The Southerner

The Minnesota Vikings support the South football program

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The Minnesota Vikings support the South football program

Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Elvis Tores, Staff Writer

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The beginning of the season started off with a tragedy for South High’s football team, with the loss of Sophomore player Sha’kym Adams. “The loss was tough. Everyone was affected in different ways. Some players held it in, some felt blame,and some felt pressure to win for Sha’kym,” wrote head coach Leonard Sedlock in an email.

Sha’kym Adams, a sophomore, drowned while swimming in Lake Nokomis with his teammates this Summer.

Sophomore Jonathan Magati emphasized the impact coach Sedlock made on the players morale. “It was hard but our coach, he brought us through. We talked about it a lot before the beginning of each of our games and before practices. A lot of our teammates were there so it was hard for us. We all knew Sha’kym, that was the hardest part of getting over it. We were always there for each other and we all went to the funeral and that was good for the team.”

Appropriately, Sedlock was later named the Minnesota Viking Coach of The Week. “It was an honor to be selected. It was the second time while here at South, but this time it had more meaning. I think it’s due to what all our team has been through,” Sedlock responded.

Following this tragedy, the team was matched up against last years state champion team, Eden Prairie, for their first game and the first high school football game in the state. It was an intimidating face off. Eden Prairie brought a large fan base along with their marching band and helped pay for lights and food trucks during the game. Senior and captain Anthony Hockett touched on how the season started off rough in more than one way, “It started off kind of bad, because we lost to the best team in state by a whole bunch.” The tigers didn’t let this get them down.

South Football has had a close relationship with the Minnesota Vikings for a long time. Sedlock noted, “The Minnesota Vikings have treated us very well for years, giving us donations for equipment, and our concession stand out at our football field. Its an honor to have such a great relationship with them.”  In recognition of the South football programs’ hard work to overcome obstacles, the Vikings invited them to visit Winter Park, their training facility.

At Winter Park, the players watched the Vikings practice and learned from them. They also toured the weight room and the practice field. Finally, they got to meet some of the players. “The [South] players met just about everyone on the team. Pictures were taken, videos were on T.V and now on Viking homepage,” explained Sedlock. “It was good for the team,” said Junior Elerson Smith.

Vikings players have also visited a few practices and games, which has inspired South players. “A couple of their guys are coming to our games and watching them. We use that as motivation,” added Hockett. EJ Henderson, Vikings linebacker and Vikings youth football manager, visited South multiple times to talk to them about their season and to help them overcome the bad start. “He’s really involved with us, and it’s kinda cool to see that,” said Hockett. “He talks about football and school, and the future and what you have to do to plan that just to stay on the right track.” The visits have pulled the players through a tough season. “The Vikings have been here many times, they talk to our players, just good time. Our players love it, it’s motivational and a great feeling for our players,” Sedlock commented.

In addition to their time spent with South players, the Vikings donated $1,000 to the South High football program. They presented a check at one of the teams’ practices. Sedlock said it will probably be used next season and the first priority is new helmets.

The Vikings have not only been making a difference in the South football community, but around the Twin Cities. Athletic trainers came to 13 different high school football teams in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This all came from a $50,000 grant from the NFL foundation. Certified trainers are provided from TRIA orthopaedic center. Trainers are present at all games, and twice a week at practices. Sedlock added, “[It’s a] big help to know our players are well taken care of.” Magati noted, “They help us out with whatever we need, whatever problems we have.”

Over the season the Minnesota Vikings supported the South football program in many ways. Their continued encouragement helped the team pull through. Sedlock added, “The support benefited the most, I feel, by giving our players a time to have fun and enjoy something outside of South. Going to the Viking practice was so awesome. Lots of smiles.”

 

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