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Wayzata is a premier suburb located 11 miles west of downtown Minneapolis. With a population of 4,500 people, Wayzata is a tight-knit community which is known for its vibrant downtown and picturesque setting on Lake Minnetonka. A popular destination for visitors, Wayzata’s downtown is home to a number of specialty shops, boutiques, professional services, and restaurants.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Catching up with the Tarpleys (part 1)


Karen, Matt, AJ & Audie Tarpley. Submitted photo.

The Tarpley family has played a large role in the success of the Wayzata Trojans football program in recent years.  Audie and Karen Tarpley email me from time to time to let me know how their boys Matt and AJ are doing with life after Wayzata.

Since the Trojans are headed back to state, and the boys played such a large role in the 2008 State Championship, I thought I would try to get as much insight into their commitment and emotion playing and succeeding at the highest levels of high school football in the State of Minnesota.

This is the first of a three part series:

1. Parents Audie and Karen Tarpley give an inside look at the 2008 Championship
2. Junior Wide Receiver for Ole Miss Matt Tarpley talks about playing at Wayzata and in the SEC
3. Sophomore Linebacker AJ Tarpley talks about his experiences at Stanford and playing at Wayzata

Audie & Karen Tarpley

Daniel Gustafson: WHERE DID YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MOVE TO?

Audie Tarpley: Karen and I moved to Dallas, TX in August of 2010.  I am not sure that the boys know we actually moved, they still return to Minnesota far more than they come to Texas! Thank god for good friends who take them in as if they never left.

DG: WHY DID YOU GO?

I had been working out of town for several years and found myself un-employed in June of 2009 prior to A.J.’s senior year in High School.  I finally found a job in Dallas and started work in February of 2010.  I commuted for six months and then we moved shortly after A.J. graduated.  It wasn’t easy moving away from our many friends in Minnesota.  I thought I wanted out of the cold weather and snow but have now learned (after 68 consecutive days of +100 degree days this summer) that maybe the cold wasn’t so bad!

The good news is that we can drive to Ole Miss in a little over 8 hours and the flights from here to the west coast are plentiful and often times on sale so we can go see A.J occasionally as well.

DG: WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU TO HAVE THE BOYS COMPETE AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE FOOTBALL WORLD IN MN?

AJ Tarpley at Wayzata High School. Photo Dan Gustafson.
AT: Exhilarating!  Proud of their hard work! It was the best of the best.  How can it get any better than having both sons starting and contributing to the large school state championship in 2008?


The level of competition that Wayzata football provides is outstanding, as are the facilities, which are as good as most anywhere. 


Competition at this level is fierce and it extends off the field as well as on it.  There is the pressure to earn your position and then to keep your position.  There are high expectations.  The competition on a day to day basis at Wayzata clearly prepared the boys for the next level.

There were friendships forged that will last throughout their lifetimes. 

Funny side note: In Ohio, youth football started in the second grade.  We did not allow Matt to participate but promised that he could start the next year in third grade…….we moved and football did not start in the WPYF until the fourth grade.  It made for a very long year.

DG: HOW MUCH PREPARATION AND COMITMENT WAS THERE ON YOUR PART AND THE BOYS PART TO PLAY AT THIS LEVEL?

AT: A.J. and Matt both made sacrifices in order to compete at the highest levels.  They attended camps, combines and competitions throughout the country to find opportunities to learn from other athletes and coaches.

They participated in prescribed work outs with their teammates but also participated in extra work outs year round at other training facilities.

Football has always been a major part of our lives.  We believe that participating in any team sport has life lessons that reach far beyond the boundaries of a football field.  The boys clearly loved what they were doing and we did all that we could to support them in pursuing their dreams.

Matt Tarpley catches a pass from Fritz Rock to win
the 2008 State Championship. Photo Eric Berg.
DG: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN MATT HELPED TO WIN OVER BLAINE WITH HIS PLAY?

AT: Matt’s TD reception to put Blaine away in the State Championship game was a dream come true! It was especially fun because those kids were a true team in every definition of the term. It was a culmination of a very long road in which Matt had overcome significant adversity, a position change and a grade 2 shoulder separation to be on the field and to be a major contributor.

DG: HOW DID AJ TAKE THE LOSS TO EDEN PRAIRIE?

A.J. was a senior and he was a Captain. He was obviously disappointed.  The team had higher expectations.   We were so proud of how the team handled their disappointment when they became supporters of Eden Prairie for their next game.   A.J. had to move on, he was diagnosed with a broken leg a couple of days after the game and his application and essays still had to be completed in order for him to be admitted to Stanford so it was a very busy time.

DG: ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

Our two sons would not be where they are without each other.  They pushed each other from an early age.  They were always and remain each other’s biggest supporters!

We miss and are so thankful for all of our wonderful friends from the Wayzata / Plymouth area who were such important parts of our son’s lives.  We did not have family in the area and moved in without knowing a single soul.  There are so many of our neighbors, teachers, friends, coaches and others, including writers such as yourself, Michael Much of MN Sports.com and John Millea of the Star Tribune who contributed and supported our boys success.

Thank you to Jamie Sherwood and his staff at the athletic office at Wayzata High School whose efforts are often not seen at all and more times than not when they are seen they are not fully understood.  You guys are awesome and we love you for it!

Matt and A.J. both had John Batalden as their guidance councilor. He provided transcripts early when Matt needed them because he graduated early and could not enroll without them.  He worked tirelessly on the numerous follow ups required by the Stanford admissions office….folks, some schools admit athletes without any real efforts…..Stanford is NOT one of those schools.   We could not have done it without you John!

There are many coaches who have helped the boys including Matt Schiedler, Ty Baker, R.J. Johnson who provided the encouragement and the work environment that allowed those who wanted to excel to just do that, excel.  Even more importantly he was also a good listener and allowed them to vent or to share complaints without judgment and be teenage boys and finally, Matt Lombardi who took the calls from the college coaches, prepared the highlight dvds and has continued to be there for them even after graduation.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Catching up with the Tarpleys as we interview Matt Tarpley, Junior wide receiver at Ole Miss.

Wayzata.com is your source for news and information in Wayzata, MN, 55391, and the Wayzata Trojans and is brought to you by Re/Max Results Wayzata REALTOR Dan Gustafson.

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