By Charles Hallman
The Minneapolis City Conference once was considered the jewel of high school conferences around the state. Unfortunately, various factors over the years have contributed to its slowly decreasing luster. The new MPS athletic director would like to bring that lost luster back.
“Once the job was open and I went through the formal application process and the interviews, I just felt like being a part of an athletic structure like this would be a right place to be,” said new Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Athletic Director Trent Tucker. He succeeds John Washington, who retired last fall.
MPS has “a rich tradition,” Tucker said in a recent interview with the MSR. “There are so many things that are positive.
“I think that first and foremost, the one thing that you want to do in a new position is to sit down and have a conversation with all the people who are involved so that we can share ideas and thoughts,” he said. “This includes meeting individually and collectively with the athletic directors of the seven city high schools “to come out with the right kind of plan [and] share ideas so that all of our kids can be successful.”
When asked if this plan includes how to keep kids from leaving the district because of better facilities elsewhere or its current 2.0 minimum grade point average for eligibility, Tucker responded, “I think we all have to come together to look at the things we need to do as a group. It’s not about one person — it is about the team of all the athletic directors, coaches and everybody coming together to see how we can build a stronger athletic program for all of our kids.”
The City Conference is the only league in the state with a strict 2.0 rule, a standard that some feel has hurt the league because other conferences aren’t as rigid.
MPS, however, should have strong academics as well as strong athletics, said Tucker. “I think those goes hand-in-hand. When you have good, strong athletic teams, you build a strong community.”
Tucker, a Flint, Mich. native and a University of Minnesota graduate, proudly pointed out, “I am a product of the public school system. I understand the importance of having a strong public school system.”
“Trent was selected as the next MPS athletic director because of his dedication to the importance of education, his varied experiences, his philanthropic activities on behalf of children, and his desire to empower youth through academics, athletics and social skills,” said MPS Chief Administrative Officer Mark Bollinger in a press release.
Tucker surmised that, after assuming his duties earlier this month, collaboration between all stakeholders “on what would be the right plan to bring back that lost luster and those glory days” will be needed. “I’m a team guy. I always believe that working as a team and working as a group is the best way to always come up with solutions to the challenges you’re facing.
“I’m just enthusiastic about being able to be a part of something I think is very special,” he said.
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