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The school year ahead offers many reasons to Celebrate!

MSHSL Staff Reflection by Erich Martens

Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - 11:09 AM

Erich Martens

Erich Martens
Executive Director

The 2020-2021 school year included some of the highest hurdles and lowest moments in the history of the Minnesota State High School League.

Yet through it all, our students persevered and turned opportunities into memories. At the same time, our local hometown heroes, the coaches, teachers, administrators and officials rose to the occasion and demonstrated courage and determination as they led our students through the school year.

This school year, as members of our staff discussed the year ahead, they were asked to consider the most appropriate theme for the year. After a few minutes of discussion, the answer that quickly emerged was one word, “Celebrate.”

Each school year brings a great amount of anticipation and promise, and this year is no different. So, welcome to the 2021-2022 school year, the year that follows the most interrupted school year we have ever experienced. It is easy to look back and dwell on the challenges and losses, but we are called to look forward with optimism and with energy, and to focus on those experiences we can provide for our students and the many aspects we will be able to “Celebrate.” 

If there is one thing we should have learned from the last school year, it is to appreciate the amazing opportunities that exist in nearly every community in our state.

The cover article of this edition of MSHSL Connect announces an incredible celebration that will last the entire school year as we build toward the 50th birthday of the passage of the landmark federal legislation now known simply as Title IX. At times, this title can create frustration, yet the legislation that supported equal opportunities for all was critical to the growth of female sports and the creation of athletic experiences for our female students. 

As Title IX has evolved nationally, so too has it grown at the state level.

Last spring, the League, through its Representative Assembly, approved the creation of a girls division of wrestling within our current wrestling program. Certainly, this is a great opportunity to “Celebrate,” and it follows a rich tradition of Minnesotans that have led the charge. Minnesota’s own Dorothy McIntyre was the first female director in a state association and spearheaded opportunities in many sports.

The League encourages you to follow along this school year and “Celebrate” as we honor and pay tribute to the athletes, administrators and other trailblazers that helped shape our current Minnesota State High School League and created the path of opportunity that female students travel today.   

Opportunities create other important aspects of our Fine Arts and athletics programming like the character-building that can take place within these activities. It is through participation that our students have an opportunity to commit fully to a team and to a goal and challenge themselves to perform at their highest level. With the support of incredible coaches and leaders, they can safely risk themselves and their efforts, knowing that they will both fail and succeed, and will be better for their participation. They can face pressures and encounter challenges with their team and by themselves.

Certainly, the growth of our youth through these educational-based activities is something to “Celebrate!” 

Another celebratory milestone during the 2021-2022 school year comes in April when 12 new inductees will be enshrined into the League’s prestigious Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame class will be the 24th group to be inducted in the 106-year history of the League. With the induction of the newest class in the spring, there will be 243 individuals and one group that have received the League’s highest honor.

For our students and for many of their coaches and families, the opportunity to participate and have full seasons during the 2021-2022 school year is one of the biggest reasons to “Celebrate.” More than 200,000 students here in Minnesota are thrilled to be back participating in athletics and Fine Arts activities that energize their school community like very few things can. Our students relish the opportunity to participate with their friends and classmates as they practice and compete with passion, integrity and class. 

As a League of member schools, we embrace the re-kindled positivity that comes with the excitement and enthusiasm of a new school year. As students fill the classrooms, the hallways, the lunchroom, the Fine Arts areas and athletic venues, we smile at the vibrance of activities.

We do indeed have plenty to Celebrate.

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