New North High fitness center: An everyday healthy place for students

Trent Tucker speaking at North High (Charles Hallman/MSR News)

Since 2012, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) have been awarded Hennepin County grants for capital improvement and to acquire new equipment for the district’s athletic facilities.

North High School is the latest to receive a Hennepin County Youth Sports grant — $150,000 to remodel and install new equipment for the school’s new fitness center. District Athletic Director Trent Tucker announced that all seven MPS high schools now have new or updated fitness rooms.

“One of my goals when I started in April 2013, was to upgrade facilities in all of our [high schools] and we have been able to do that,” he told the MSR at the March 30 grand opening.

Nearly $20 million in Youth Sports grants over the past seven years have been distributed to 122 capital improvement projects [facilities] and 221 equipment and small projects, including urban and suburban athletic fields and playgrounds. Facility grants ranging from $10,000 to $300,000 are awarded once each year; and equipment grants, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 are awarded each year in the fall and spring.

Each year, sales taxes from the Minnesota Twins downtown ballpark (up to $4 million) funds the Youth Sports grant program, as well as additional hours at 15 Hennepin County Library locations, including Sunday hours.

North received the Hennepin County grant in 2016. The other grants awarded to MPS schools for their fitness centers were:

  • Washburn $150,000 (2016);
  • Henry and Edison $172,000 (2015);
  • Southwest $84,600 (2015);
  • Roosevelt and South $325,000 (2014);
  • Edison $2,300 (2014);
  • Roosevelt got over $6,700 in 2013 for equipment grants;
  • Washburn received $220,000 for new stadium turf in 2012; and this year (2017);
  • South received $250,000 for synthetic turf and track surface.

Minneapolis School Board member Kim Ellison noted: “I am so happy we were able to partner with Hennepin County to make this [fitness center] happen for our students.” She added that it is not only important for the school’s athletic teams but for the “everyday health for our students.”

“Our physical education classes can come in here,” stressed North High Athletic Director Leo Lewis. “Our dance team can come in, and our cheerleaders can come in and practice as well.  Not only is it for lifting weights but also for conditioning and a practice area when the weather is not too good to go outside.”

For T’Nia Riley, who runs track, the fitness center serves as “another place to call home.”

“It is important to keep all the teams together,” added North High football player Davonte (Leon) Haynes, a junior.

Teammate Antonio (Menchez) Simmons, also a North High junior, added, “We want to make the North Side proud. I can get stronger.”

North is the district’s smallest high school in terms of enrollment (around 350 students grades 9-12). Lewis noted: “We were able to take advantage of the space” and install a fitness room. “The [other MPS] high schools had one.”

Director Tucker commented, “Our goal, as we move to the future, is to continue to upgrade all of our facilities. Not just on the inside but on the outside as well.”


Read more on North’s new fitness center and MPS athletics in “Another View” in this week’s MSR sports section.


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to