North High School: a job well done

North wins Class 1A football championship

Congratulations to North High School for winning the state Class 1A championship in football. They have not only done North Minneapolis proud, but also the entire city of Minneapolis, as this is the first championship for the city since 1977.

North is now the only high school that has won a Minnesota championship in all six sports categories: 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A. Head coach Charles Adams III is now the first African American head football coach in the state of Minnesota to win a state title. North is making history.

Just five years ago, the Board of Education and certain political figures were ready to lock North’s doors. North was left to find students. They did: 62 of them, starting with one grade, ninth grade. Today North has over 400 students. That puts them in Class 1A.

North is now one of the few Minnesota high schools in any classification to hold state championships in both football and basketball the same year. North won the Class 1A state basketball championship for the 2015-16 basketball season.

There is tremendous pride being felt in the North High family and, by extension, the Northside community. Coach Charles Adams III, is being recognized as one of the top high school football coaches in the state of Minnesota. The job he did along with his coaching staff, which included his father, Charles Adams II, was almost a miracle in and of itself.

In Coach Adams’ first season he was lucky to be able to suit up 16 players for a game. But as North began to improve and show its ability on the field of competition there began to be grumblings. Some in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHL), the governing body, attempted to pressure North to accept re-classification in one of 4A or 5A or 6A, where they would be in competition against school three-six times the size of North high school.

Another historic market: all the players in this historic championship run all live within the boundaries of North High School. This is important because for a decade there has been a drain of African American talent to schools outside the city of Minneapolis, particularly in the sports of football and basketball. White communities particularly don’t like to talk about that.

Head Coach Adams, a 1999 graduate of North High School, began with a commitment to the development of the tremendous talent that exists within North’s school boundaries. And so it was with great pride two weeks ago that thousands were able to watch the North High Polars’ march to the state championship on statewide television. Rest assured not everyone was pulling for them but their community certainly was.

I’m reminded of some of the great athletes that came out of North High after it was allowed to be integrated in the 1930s: great names, great athletes, all of whom would be proud of the tenaciousness and spirit and the commitment of North’s current leadership, starting with the Principal Shaun Harris-Barry, Athletic Director Leo Lewis, and the parents and friends of North High school.

This is a cherished moment for an important neighborhood institution of Minneapolis. North did not give up. The community persevered and proved what I often write in these columns: given opportunity, we can use our genius to develop action plans to achieve success. May more community organizations do so.

Again, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to North High School for being state champions in both football and basketball. These young people, our future, have given strength to our community that too often has been nonexistent.

Stay tuned.


For Ron’s hosted radio and TV show’s broadcast times, solutions papers, books, and archives, go to To order his books, go to