News and Events
A group of 65 excited Fridley Middle School (FMS) 7th and 8th graders ran onto the field of TCF Bank Stadium on December 7, 2018 after a pep talk by none other than University of Minnesota (U of M) quarterback Seth Green. The moment was part of the Gopher Experience, a program that invites middle school students to campus to learn from U of M student athletes. The experience allowed FMS students the chance to connect with collegiate athletes and hear what it takes to become a Division I athlete and the hard work required for success in the classroom.
Students toured TCF Bank Stadium, the U of M’s major sports facility, and learned more about the history of sports at the school. The University’s student athletes led the tours of the athletic facilities, including the stadium locker rooms and sitting in the President’s suite. The athletes also led group break-out discussions which focused on race and gender integration into collegiate-level sports. The event was capped off with a pizza party and running onto the football field. The Fridley students also received backpacks filled with coupons and snacks.
U of M history department professor, Tim Hoogland, who is co-credited with starting History Day throughout Minnesota, started the Gopher Experience with the aim to inspire students with stories of U of M athletes who broke through racial and gender barriers. Students also learn about how college athletes balanced school, athletics and academic studies to get to where they are today.
“Opportunities like this provide extra motivation to go to college,” said FMS Dean Josh Thurston, who organized the trip. “The Gopher athletes talk about the academic work they had to do in middle and high school. They talk about the time commitment and having to set up their routines and habits of managing their time in middle school.”
The Gopher Experience trip is sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota.