The University of Minnesota continues to reach out to its local community, as it invited three middle schools to campus prior to the holiday season. Gopher Athletics joined together with the University of Minnesota’s history department and welcomed Brooklyn Center, Murray and St. Mark's Catholic middle schools to TCF Bank Stadium. Over 140 middle school kids visited campus during that span, while 40 student-athletes greeted these groups.
Each event began with a welcome and introductions. Following a tour of TCF Bank Stadium, student-athletes held a question/answer session to discuss their introduction into their sport, how to balance school and athletics and academic majors. Following the open panel, discussions were held on past sports icons from Minnesota’s history department professor, Tim Hoogland. The topic was the inclusion of African American athletes on football teams, including Jack Trice (Iowa State) and Sandy Stephens (Minnesota). Along with including race at the collegiate level, Hoogland also included the story of former Gopher swimming coach Jean Freeman. While an athlete and a coach in her own right, coach Freeman fought for the equality of men’s and women’s sports. Student-athletes broke into six different tables and discussed integration on race and gender into the college game.
A pizza party and running onto the TCF Bank Stadium field capped off the event, while the kids were given a U of M tote bag as they departed. An additional three schools are scheduled to visit campus in early in 2018.
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