Why I love Albert Lea

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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Mollee Tscholl resides in Albert Lea with her husband, Joe, and their three sons, Andrew, Seth and Zack. She works in youth ministry at Crossroads Church.

I was born in Albert Lea, at Naeve Hospital back in 1976. That sounds ancient now, but as I look back it’s all gone really fast. I remember growing up on Elm Street out by the Stables Restaurant, which is no longer there. It was a great place to grow up; I could climb trees, play outside with the neighbor kids, and within biking distance was the country club pool. I spent long days swimming there.

My grandma Donna (Ingvaldson) was also born and raised here, and later she and my grandfather, Art Ludtke (a native of Kiester) raised my dad and his siblings just outside Albert Lea in Clarks Grove. They still attended Albert Lea for school. So, I guess for me, to say Albert Lea means family is an understatement. And along with family, the word “roots” also comes to mind. Roots tied to relationships that have stood the test of time and crossed over generations. It’s a beautiful thing, really, because roots keep you grounded. They help you stand firm and regain your bearings when the rest of the world seems to be spiraling out of your control.

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Back when I went to school a lot of kids would say “there’s nothing to do here”; “I can’t wait to get out of here” — that sort of thing. I think that’s still a common complaint. And when I look at how I ended up back in Albert Lea; I don’t think it was part of my plan, but I also don’t think I had any sort of plan. God brought me back here shortly after college. I found my way to the Lakeside Café where I worked for five years and met some amazing people who had a profound impact on my life and faith. I got to see the people of Albert Lea every day as they came and went getting coffee or lunch, checking in with each other, loving each other, being a community in the best ways. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were reminding me of my roots. Albert Lea is full of amazing people.

At that time, I also began coaching at Albert Lea High School. Sports had always been a huge part of my life, and suddenly I found myself coaching three sports a year: volleyball, basketball and track. God led me there, too. I got to spend time with the students in Albert Lea and become part of their lives. Albert Lea is full of amazing students.

Fast forward to today. Twenty years have passed since those days I spent working at Lakeside. I’m back coaching again after a 13-year hiatus to raise our three boys. My husband and I own Snap Fitness here in town, where we meet so many wonderful people on the daily. Acquaintances and strangers who eventually become family. I’m also currently coordinating FCA at the high school, and because of that I am blessed to be a part of students’ lives again and point them to Jesus. This past fall, as we were getting ready for our second annual Fields of Faith, a night of worship and testimonies under the field lights, I couldn’t help but be amazed at just how our God works. I would never have imagined 30 years ago, a teenager who spent hours running and dreaming around that track, that this is what God would have in mind for me one day. That this is what he was preparing me for.

I love Albert Lea because it’s my home; it’s my family; its full of amazing people, and it’s where God has called me. There’s no better place to be!