A group of 14-year-old athletes from Cass lake make the journey often to the Twin Cities, Mike Max reports (1:42). WCCO 4 News At 6 – June 7, 2021
MIKE MAX: They love to play basketball. It’s a way of life for the Leech Lake Reservation. And they have a coach who is the head coach for really both teams.
They kick the floor and they turn it on. High octane, highly entertaining basketball. A group of 14-year-old athletes from Cass Lake make the journey often to the Twin Cities, and that is saying something.
FERON JACKSON: Their families do a great job of driving four hours for an hour and a half practice and coming all the way down here for games. They’re very dedicated.
MIKE MAX: It’s part of the culture, so much so that the Leech Lake Tribal Leader Feron Jackson serves as one of the coaches.
GIL ZAMORA: Basketball is a key denominator for these young kids, you know, it keeps them active and keeps the academics where they have to be and also they know there’s requirements that going with playing sports, and they’re all on board. They’re fully committed.
MIKE MAX: What they do is fun to watch because they play together so long because they play so well together.
– We know how to pass the ball, and we’re very tall, and we rebound and put it back up.
MIKE MAX: Do you love to pass the ball?
MIKE MAX: Up near Leech Lake, they, too, were surrounded by the conditions of Northern Minnesota. And this game has suited them well as a way into a warm gym.
GIL ZAMORA: That’s the tradition up there, and it’s like everybody loves to play ball, and these kids are following in the footsteps of many others that have created a path for them.
MIKE MAX: As vaccinations in their area have gone up, they’re starting to set in a feeling that they will again be back where they want to be. Open. And normal will include basketball. Always does, no matter the circumstances.
FERON JACKSON: Getting back on board here. And, you know, we’re going to be opening up on the rez, on Leech Lake Reservation, July 1, and all the staff will be back to work. And we want to get back to a normal way of living.