MSHSL Hall of Fame inducts St. Paul soccer star

Photo courtesy of MSHSL Tony Sanneh

The St. Paul Academy and Summit School’s boys’ soccer program rose to national recognition in the late 1980s, largely on the craftiness of Tony Sanneh, a gifted scorer and playmaker. During his time at SPA, the Capitol City native was a two-time All-State selection. The school won two state titles and a runners-up finish from 1986 through 1989.

Sanneh on Sunday afternoon will be among three persons of color inducted into the Minnesota State High School (MSHSL) Hall of Fame. The 2019 class includes 11 individuals and the 1929-39 Grand Meadow girls’ basketball teams. 

“I am really honored,” Sanneh said last week in an MSR interview. “It is always nice to be noticed for your accomplishments.”

Now in his early 40s and heading his own youth services foundation, Sanneh briefly recalled his high school days. “I really remember how we worked really hard, and just how the community come together” in supporting the Spartans program. 

After high school, Sanneh went on to star in college at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he became the school’s all-time leading scorer and a 1993 All-American. He also played professionally both in the MLS and overseas, and he was one of Team USA’s top players.

On soccer then and now, Sanneh pointed out, “It’s light years [in difference]. Minnesota has a professional team now. It’s on TV all the time.”

Sanneh said he believed playing soccer uniquely prepared him for running his own foundation today. “Working as a team I think helped me understand people,” he surmised. “Working hard and not giving up helped [me] found the foundation [in 2003] that I am doing today.”

“I’m honored and surprised a little bit” by the induction, Sanneh said. The ceremony, scheduled for 1 pm October 20 at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel, is open to the public.

WNBA notes

Washington last week became only the third WNBA team to win the championship following its runners-up finish the previous season (Detroit, 2008; Minnesota, 2013, 2017). The 2019 champion Mystics got swept by Seattle last season.

Whichever team gets the most shots in the game usually comes out on top, Washington Coach Mike Thibault told reporters, including the MSR, on a media conference call. His team defeated Connecticut in five games—both clubs were vying for its first league title in franchise history.

This was only the seventh time the W’s best-of-five finals went the distance, and the Lynx participated in three of them (2015, 2016 and 2017).

“Every person, one to 12, has a role on this team,” Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud said.

Not to be overlooked, Sheila Johnson last week became the first Black owner to win a WNBA title. Since 2005, she has been team president, managing partner and governor. She also became the first Black woman to own or be a key partner in three U.S. pro sports franchises:  Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA) and the Mystics.

Globe-tracking the Lynx

Guard Danielle Robinson (CCC Polkowice) and forward Temi Fagbenie (Botas) are among several Lynx players who are playing overseas during their off-season. Robinson on Wednesday and Fagbenie on Thursday are in EuroCup games.

This season’s Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier is on the U.S. 3×3 Women’s Basketball Team. At press time the team was expected to complete its final game of Group play in Doha, Qatar.

For MSHSL Hall of Fame induction ceremony ticket information, contact the Minnesota State High School League at 763-560-2262, ext. 493