ESCANABA - Joe Gorecki is becoming quite the world traveller, and soon he will be doing it from the comfort of one of the industry's finest cruise ships.
The Bark River native came home recently for his 22nd birthday party between figure skating gigs, with a trip to South America next on his agenda.
He leaves soon for a two-month skating tour of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. He was offered the Principal role in the show Mystery.
After a brief visit home following that tour, he leaves for the Caribbean where he will be aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Sea from June 11-Jan. 28.
He skated in Europe last year for Holiday On Ice, including Lebanon, Poland, Germany, Holland and England. He started the tour in the semi-principal role, then was promoted to Principal when the featured skater was injured and returned home.
"It was very exciting because it has been my goal to be Principal with Holiday On Ice," he said in a recent email. He is one of the youngest principals for that tour.
"It felt like my dreams were coming true because they announced my name at the beginning of the show as 'Joe Gorecki from the USA.' That is what I always dreamed about when I was competing, so it was very exciting to hear that every day."
After the tour, he visited Thailand and Cambodia. "It was the trip of a lifetime. I had a great time," he said.
Another Escanaba skater, Angie Vandermissen, is also on a cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Sea.
* What a memorable winter sports season for Upper Peninsula high school players and teams.
Nicole Elmblad of St. Ignace is Associated Press Class C player of the year in basketball, and the Saints won the state title.
Jordan Chartier of Superior Central is AP Class D co-player of the year in basketball.
Ben Johnson of Calumet shares Mr. Hockey honors in Michigan.
Calumet hockey and Bark River-Harris girls basketball are runner-up in the state tournaments in their divisions.
* Wrestling did not exist when Robin Ersland first attended Menominee High School. That did not stop him from becoming a successful college coach.
In fact, he has done so well that he recently was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in Omaha.
Ersland has been head coach at Central Missouri State for the past 15 years. He has coached at three other schools, including Northern Michigan University, and 15 of his 21 teams have finished in the top 20 at the national championships. He has been D-II Coach of the Year seven times and has more than 200 dual meet victories.
Seven of his wrestlers have been national finalists, with two winning titles.
Wrestling became a sport at Menominee in 1973, when Ersland was a senior. As a junior, he practiced with the Marinette High School team. His dad, Gene, began the Maroons' program and is in the Luther College athletic Hall of Fame.
The younger Ersland is starting a new job next year as he begins the wrestling program at Minot, N.D. State, which is switching from NAIA to NCAA D-II.
He said tuition is just $9,500 and with no returning lettermen, spots on the team are wide open and he is hoping Upper Peninsula wrestlers may be interested in joining the new program.