Hope Academy joins Minnehaha in the latest sports partnership
Athletes to contribute to cross-country, football and track teams
Many Minnehaha athletics teams have struggled to get depth in their programs because lower numbers.
Even middle school teams are being dropped and younger kids are being brought up to fill in junior varsity and C-squad teams.
This has created a bigger gap in athletic ability, but other schools are having these problems, too. The newer athletics co-op is with Hope Academy, which is just a couple miles from North campus, for the cross-country, track and field and football teams.
The co-op helps both Minnehaha and Hope Academy with their small numbers to create a bigger and better program.
“They have been and will be very valuable to our program because of our low numbers this year and their talent in general,” said senior football captain Alex Hummel. “These are talented guys.”
Athletic director Homar Ramirez explains how the athletic department decides if a co-op is best for the team or not.
“The athletic department’s position is [to decide if] the co-op is needed so that the program continues,” said Ramirez. “You hope that by co-oping you keep the program alive and as a school you get healthier with numbers.”
Numbers were also scarce for the hockey teams, who are co-oping with St. Agnes, St. Anthony and St. Croix Lutheran,
“For boys’ hockey it’s been successful,” said Ramirez. “The co-op helped us through a period of time until we could get more numbers. Currently the boys’ hockey team could survive without the co-op, but our girls’ team would not survive without a co-op.”
This fall the access to more students athletes is an advantage for Minnehaha’s football and cross-country teams to build the program similar to the hockey teams.
“It’s a very manageable number,” Ramirez said.
There are only a few students from Hope Academy who have joined fall sports but that has made the transition easier to start off and successful.
“[This co-op] gives Hope students an opportunity to compete in sports where they may not have that opportunity otherwise because of numbers,” Ramirez said. “And it gives our kids an opportunity to be teammates and be part of a group that has dynamics that Minnehaha currently doesn’t have.”
Hope Academy junior Ephraim Bird enjoys being able to run cross-country with the team.
“The [co-op] is really helpful because last year I was by myself and it was kind of hard to score, so there is more advantage with a team,” said Bird. “The team really accepted me as their own.”
Last year the football players from Hope Academy on the junior varsity team but this year players have a chance to make varsity.
“These athletes have added a new level of brotherhood to the team, by [because of their] different experiences,” senior captain Dane Birkeland. “They also add another level of athletic skill to the team as I expect many of them to play varsity minutes.”
On the football team this year there are two Minnehaha captains and one Hope Academy captain. Abraham Norman is the senior captain from Hope Academy that played on junior varsity last year.
Even though each captain is closer with different athletes, the captains are all leaders.
“Alex and Abraham and I share the same duties,” said Birkeland, “being leaders on the team and being examples and showing the attitude that the coaches have set forth.”
“Our duties as captains are the same,” said Hummel, “although Abraham obviously has a closer connection to the Hope guys, but as the season progresses we come closer together as one team instead of two separate schools.”
Ramirez said that was the most valuable part the co-op for Minnehaha.
“I think one of the biggest benefits for our school and for our students is to welcome people who aren’t in our building,” Ramirez said.
Having the same values as Hope has helped the transition happen smoothly.
“Hope Academy and Minnehaha share a lot of the same core values as schools and our mission to educate and help prepare young people, which is also definitely Christ-centered,” said Ramirez.
But there is a downside to having this co-op.
“Communication is difficult,” said Ramirez. “There are those that would say we don’t communicate well with our internal body and now you’ve brought on an extra responsibility.”
But Ramirez is still pleased with the outcome of the co-op so far.
“I would want everybody to know that the co-op with Hope works so well because the effort being put forth by the student athletes and coaches,” said Ramirez. “They are the ones making it work, and I think that speaks highly of Hope Academy and their willingness to embrace it.”