Are South High’s Tigers Being Kept Caged?

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Every high school athlete’s dream is to proudly represent their school by defeating their rivals at their home field. There’s nothing compared to the support and enthusiasm stirred up at a home game or track meet. Unfortunately, South High’s field and stadium have seen better days. The track is ripped up and spotty where pieces are missing. The grass where football and soccer games are played is bumpy and uneven, and there are spots where no grass even grows anymore. Our stadium seats are weathered and uncomfortable and there’s often trash littered all over it. There also isn’t enough room for athletes to use the field to practice on because there’s almost always a game going on, forcing coaches to bus athletes to various parks miles away.

So what could we do? These insurmountable problems seemed unsolvable, and for a long time they were, until rumors surfaced of tearing down our stadium and rebuilding two new fields, one for practicing and one for games. It’s the perfect solution to our problems, so why haven’t we done it yet?

Money is always an issue. In order to make room for the fields, South would have to buy out all the property on 21st Avenue and Lake as well as 22nd Avenue and Lake. The property includes several homes and a few auto repair businesses, who may not be so willing to get up and move, no matter how much money South may offer them.

There’s also the cost of demolishing the existing stadium and rebuilding the two new fields parallel to each other running north and south. In 2008 here in Minnesota, Minnetonka High School renovated their school’s sports fields and it costed them around 5.8 million dollars. All said and done, this could easily end up being a multimillion dollar project.

Although it’s true that this project would cost a lot of money, there are lots of ways to acquire the funds we would need.  Just last year a few high schools here in Minneapolis received a very generous donation from the Target Field to remodel their weight rooms. Mike Kazuba, a writer for the Star Tribune, estimated that South High ended up getting around $250,000 worth of training equipment and fitness machines. South didn’t have to pay anything for it.

There’s also a nonprofit organization called HYSP or Hennepin Youth Sports Program that makes grants to local governments to improve youth athletic facilities. If HYSP became aware of South’s current field situation, they would most likely be willing to donate some money towards the new fields. Student education is just as important as student fitness, and a lack in physical stimulation could lead to a lack in mental stimulation.

“As far as the track goes, that thing definitely needs to be replaced,” says Malachi Lossow, a sophomore at South, who’s a member of the varsity sprinting team. “It sucks because we can’t host track meets here at South. We have to go to other schools to compete because there aren’t enough lanes and there are tons of holes in the Track. It’s just not big enough.”

Like Malachi, many of the track athletes have the same story to tell when it comes to describing their experiences with South’s field. The field has become an embarrassment to the high standards South students hold themselves to. The lack of maintenance has even proved unsafe for a number of athletes.

Sam Danke, a sophomore at South and a member of both the varsity hurdles team and the varsity distance running team describes his experiences with South’s equipment: “All the hurdles are like 50 years old and falling apart. You get splinters easy because they’re worn and made of cheap wood. My coach got a splinter just trying to pick one up and move it. I hate it because when we go to other schools to compete, they have all nice, new equipment made of plastic with their school name and colors on it. I don’t feel like I’m asking for much, just something I don’t get thigh splinters on.”

Some athletes rarely get to use the field at all. Roy Palmer, a sophomore at South High and member of the sophomore soccer team for the past two years, speaks out about his problems with the field: “There’s no room to practice at South because the Football teams are already practicing there. We have to practice at this park a few miles away called Bosson. We have four soccer teams and Bosson is the only place we can all practice together. It’s really badly kept, we really only use it because it’s big. There’s random sewer drains in the middle of the field, there’s often glass in the grass, and spotty dry spots where there isn’t any grass, only dirt. Honestly it kind of impacts the way I train for games, I’m not training as well as I could be. I’d rather be practicing at South, I wouldn’t have to take the bus and it’s a lot closer.”

Although each student tells a different story, they all share one main point. South High needs a major upgrade to it’s equipment and space, as soon as possible.

South High needs your help to give student athletes the tools they need to achieve their full potential. No longer should any student athlete feel embarrassed to face their rivals in their home field or fear for their safety when training. Anything you can do to show your support for South’s Athletics will be greatly appreciated. Donations or grants towards the field renovations are spectacular! Please direct any sort of payment to the Athletic Office and hopefully, with each and every bit of community support, we will reach our goal and put plans into motion. You’ll be helping kids reach their goals for years to come.

 

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