Prairie Island Indian community scores big with new basketball court courtesy of Lynx, T-Wolves

ÎLE DES PRAIRIES — There’s nothing like having good partners to help build a community.

That was the message Monday as representatives from the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves organizations — WNBA and NBA — traveled to Prairie Island to dedicate a newly renovated outdoor community basketball court and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

“This field is built for you and you,” Lynx and T-Wolves broadcaster Marney Gellner said, pointing to the kids in attendance. “And all those little hoops over there.”

The court, a synthetic tile outdoor court with height-adjustable hoops at both ends, is the result of a 20-year partnership between the Prairie Island Indian community and the two basketball organizations.

“We deeply appreciate your friendship and thank you for your commitment to bettering our community,” Tribal Council Vice President Lucy Taylor said. “And your long history of supporting youth development.”

Ryan Tanke, COO of the Lynxes and Timberwolves, said he was thrilled to be on Prairie Island to celebrate the day with the tribe and the dedication of the new court.

“It means so much to our entire organization,” Tanke said. And what started as a marketing deal has turned into a more inclusive relationship. He said he hopes the children of Prairie Island will use the court as a tool to “learn about life through basketball.”

Tanke also announced that while the Timberwolves have previously celebrated Native American Heritage Day each year, this year the team would dedicate the entire month of November to celebrating the Native American community at every Timberwolves game.

After the groundbreaking, the T-Wolves and Lynx held a basketball clinic for the children in attendance. Joining them are Lynx player and former University of Minnesota star Rachel Banham and former Timberwolves player Troy Hudson to teach some basketball skills.

Darrel Taylor, who saw two of his three children attend the clinic, said he played on the new ground days before the grand opening.

Darrel Taylor

“We had a little taste,” he said. “I loved.”

Taylor said the new pitch was an improvement over the old pitches he used to play on, and he was happy to see his kids enjoying some outdoor exercise. His daughter, he said, has played on some teams and probably will again.

“It’s going to be really cool, because you have to go out and enjoy the weather and shoot everywhere,” he said.

Also in attendance were Tesha Buck, a former star of Red Wing High School and a member of the Prairie Island community, who played at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the University of New Mexico before playing professionally at the ‘foreigner.

New basketball court.JPG

Tesha Buck, a former Red Wing High School and college basketball star, speaks during the grand opening of the newly renovated Prairie Island Indian Community Basketball Court, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Prairie Island. The land was donated to the community through a partnership with the WNBA Minnesota Lynx and the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves. Post Bulletin / Brian Todd

“It would have been nice to have that pitch when I was little, to be outside when the weather was nice and to play with friends, cousins, family,” Buck said. “That would have been pretty cool.”

Buck, who started playing with her father when she was very young, said she hopes the next generation of Prairie Island basketball players can use the court and eventually use basketball to achieve some of their own. dreams.

“Basketball has been so important to me all my life,” Buck said. “It gave me so many opportunities to meet new people, to see the world, to see new places. It can be very important for you too. I think this court here is a good start.”

As for her own plans, Buck said she hopes the warm fall weather will hold so she can gather friends and family for a game or two before winter sets in. installed.

“I think it would be cool to get some people to come and play,” she said.

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