I'm just back from visiting Fairview Park and doing a story on the Minneapolis Reign. One of the players on the team facebooked me and invited me over. When kids take the effort to reach out and invite me to event I try to make it.
I had not been to the Park since my son attended a Clyde Turner camp back in the day. The visit brought back a lot of good memories. Clyde had taught my son at the Brooklyn Center camp and invited him to attend the fairview camp so "he could have some competition," so we attended.
Mike was the only white kid at the camp and when he dunked in the championship game he earned the camp MVP. I remember little kids tuggin on his shorts and looking up and calling him Dirk. Those are good memories.
There was another shooting yesterday in the area and way too many gunshots every week in the neighborhood. That's seems to be what defines the North side.
But here is another part of the story. When I visited today I took lots of pictures and video and I showed a lot of it to the kids as I shot. The coaches and the kids all made me feel very welcome.
I was sitting on the bleachers looking at some of my shots as the kids walked by lined up doing their drills. A player I knew stopped and thanked me for coming by and I told him he was welcome.
The practice was both 17U's and 14U's. I continued looking at the camera and checking the settings and exposures when I felt a hand patting me on the shoulder. I looked up and saw one of the little guys giving me a big smile as he withdrew his hand. This was one of those little moments of pure kindness that often go unnoticed.
Well, I noticed it - and it made my day. That's the other side of the North Side. Kids living their everyday lives playing ball at the neighborhood park. And, making old men who look very different from the people they see every day, feel welcome.