Red Wing's girls golf team will take its annual road trip this week, playing today in Elk River and Wednesday at the Alexandria Invitational. The overnight adventure will get a little twist this time around -- coach Mark Herzog will not be driving.
Minnesota's Department of Transportation passed a new law last summer that raised the testing standards for drivers around the state, focusing specifically on those transporting students. Herzog, who was born with a lazy left eye, failed that test despite getting a clean bill of health in a standard physical a few months earlier.
Herzog calls the law "ridiculous." He's not the only one.
Brad Johnson, Red Wing School District's director of finance, has direct insight into its monetary affects. With a recent school trip to Welch costing nearly $200 and another to Byron topping $300, Johnson's books could be hit with unexpected expenses from the athletic department.
The golf trip this week could have cost almost $1,000. Finding a coach who can check the master cylinder, the power steering pump and the brake slack adjusters (among other things) -- as the new law requires -- is a daunting task.
"We'd need mechanics plus a set of dirty overalls and an hour to do the testing," Johnson said.
Those details can be glossed over, however, if the initial test can be passed. Herzog failed because he can't see out of his left eye.
"If you can breath you can pass it -- unless you have a lazy eye," he said.
Herzog doesn't have an assistant coach. Pam Herzog can breath, however. Beginning Tuesday, the husband-wife combo intend to tag team the coaching duties whenever possible -- Pam at the wheel and Mark at the course. She's volunteered her time despite having two young daughters at home.
Has the law done its job? Are the student-athletes really more safe?
Herzog scoffs at the notion. He hasn't been in an accident or received a single ticket in 33 years at the wheel, including 26 years driving his golf team.
The Legislature is discussing an amendment that likely would allow Herzog to resume full driving responsibilities next season.