I am quite disappointed in Brett Martin’s most recent column discussing the success of Shakopee sports.
While I agree we have many great high school programs and applaud their success, comparing professional and high school sports is apples to oranges and that is even a stretch to say it’s that close.
Last I remember professional coaches and players are compensated very well where high school athletics are part of our youth’s adolescence experience. Professional sports franchises pick their players where high school sports programs are comprised of students from the city they live in.
I understand some Minnesota high school programs have found ways around the MSHSL rules to recruit players from other cities but that is not something that should be advocated for.
For some reason, Martin decided to attack boys’ hockey and football at the end of his commentary. I am not sure exactly who specifically he is attacking and who is feeding him bad information?
I will do my best to educate him on some great things going on with Shakopee boys’ hockey. Yes, I acknowledge the past decade has not seen success in terms of wins with the high school program but there are many factors to consider and none of them have to do with the high school program itself.
As Shakopee joined the South Suburban Conference in 2014 along with Farmington, it should have been obvious to everyone the program would struggle to catch up with other schools until the facilities could offer the same necessities as its competitors. In 2010, the referendum, which included a second sheet of ice, failed which left the program with only one sheet of ice, no dry land facility for 30+ youth teams and the high school programs.
All the other south Suburban schools with the exception of Farmington had the necessary facilities for hockey athletes. Thankfully for the hockey program, Shakopee finally opened a new venue during the 2016-2017 season which now includes two sheets of ice and an off ice training facility.
However, lack of ice and facilities to train in the seven years between 2010-2017 saw many players leave Shakopee prior to ever reaching the high school program. Even through these challenges, the high school coaches and players sacrificed sleep and precious ice team to try and help the youth program survive.
I am not sure what is worse, having your high school player need to practice at 6 a.m. most mornings or your 12-year-old not finishing practice until 10:30 p.m. on a school night. Unfortunately, that was the reality in Shakopee for both.
I have stated many times since the new facility opened that we should be able to measure the success of the program in 10 years. Why you might ask? Simple, if you build it, they will come.
The numbers in the youth program are up; teams at all levels are getting training that equals that of their competitors. For example, the Shakopee Squirt A team is having the most success we have seen of any team in the past decade. The team currently is 16-5-3, in fourth place in their district behind teams like Edina and also ranked in the top 20 in the state.
Furthermore, our B and C teams are also competing and in the middle of the pack in their districts. These are the same kids who were mites just getting into hockey when we finally got the facilities which were desperately needed to compete.
My children are older and not part of the youth program any longer but I couldn’t be happier to see the trend starting to turn in the right direction. I really hope the youth association can keep these kids in Shakopee and they eventually end up in our high school system.
At the high school level, there are exciting things happening as well. We hired Calvin Simon who is in first year with program which everyone should be extremely excited about. The team has already surpassed its conference win total of last year, equaled its total wins of last year while playing a full SSC conference schedule which was not done in previous seasons.
Also, the JV team is competing very well against other conference teams, which is exciting for the future of the program. So I close with this: Mr. Martin, I would love the opportunity to better understand why you decided to attack the program and coaches vs. focus on root cause of the problem. Look me up, I’ll meet you at one of our awesome Shakopee establishments and buy you a beer. Go Sabers!