Vikings, NFL/LISC Grant Helps Local High School

Posted Sep 15, 2011

On a historic field in south Minneapolis on Tuesday, neighbors, students, staff, fans and football players gathered to celebrate another generous program-changing donation from the NFL/LISC Grassroots Program and the Minnesota Vikings. For the seventh time in recent years, the Vikings put their mark on a community through the donation of a state-of-the-art playing surface for a deserving complex – this time helping Washburn High School.

The $200,000 grant as part of Minneapolis Public Schools’ Team Up For Turf will help the installation of a synthetic turf surface at Washburn’s historic MacQuarrie Field – the home of the Miller football, soccer and lacrosse squads. The new field will allow Washburn and the surrounding community to make better use of the facility without worrying about maintenance issues, overuse and changing field markings for different sports. The new surface also allows for better use of existing practice fields and physical education classes to make more use of the playing field.

“Education is always at the forefront, but we can’t underestimate the importance of learning that goes on through playing sports,” said Lester Bagley, Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development. “You learn teamwork, you learn respect, you learn to overcome adversity- all skills valuable in life.”

The grant, awarded by the Vikings, the NFL Youth Football Fund and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), will be used to replace the natural field at Washburn as part of the MPS Team Up For Turf campaign, a commitment to raise $2.2 million to convert the athletic fields at Henry and Washburn high school to synthetic turf.

Funding for the future turf field will come from additional grant opportunities and individual donations that do not take away from the funding of student instructional needs. By 2013, MPS hopes the Team Up For Turf campaign will raise supplemental funds to cover the cost of additional synthetic turf projects. All fields would be available for use by schools, parts and Minneapolis youth organizations. The new field will support athletic activities that engage students academically and promote fitness and healthy lifestyle choices in schools and the community.

Following the dedication program, flanked by the Washburn football and soccer teams, the Miller football team went through drills under the instruction of Vikings players E.J. Henderson, Everson Griffen, John Sullivan and Marcus Sherels along with Vikings cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking.

For the Millers football team, fresh off a 45-6 win over rival Minneapolis South, the field improvement enhances school pride, safety, competitiveness and a sense of community with the surrounding neighborhoods.

“This will allow us to give the students a first-rate experience and make the most efficient use of our space and time,” said Washburn football head coach, and Millers alum, Giovan Jenkins. “Being able to use the field for a variety of activities, allowing the community to put it to good use and giving the teams a safe field is what makes today so great.”

For the Vikings, the partnership with the NFL and LISC has allowed facilities across the state to benefit from grant opportunities. The team has helped deliver new projects at South High, North Commons Park, Jimmy Lee Park, Griffin Stadium in St. Paul, Parade Stadium in Minneapolis and the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.