Team activities start June 7. The first official practice is scheduled for Aug. 15. And the regular season for the Minneapolis North High football team begins sometime after Labor Day.
Charles Adams III can’t wait. The Polars head coach will be back on the field with his players, preparing them for the season while being the mentor they can lean on for advice on everything from college recruiting to social justice to moving forward following a year of protests and violence after the killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright by police officers.
“Last season was face masks and pods and you really couldn’t be close to the kids,” Adams said. “It’s going to feel good to have normal, regular football practice this season with them.”
He was speaking while standing outside the Twins dugout at Target Field. After spending 20 years on the Minneapolis police force, Adams, 40, stepped away in October and accepted a position as the Twins’ director of security. Major League Baseball is requiring each team to add the position, so Adams now has bigger kids to look after.
“Charles has been great, coming into a baseball situation after a career in law enforcement and still coaching,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He came in eyes wide open and wants to just bring not just what he’s doing in his job to the table, but to add to the culture here. And he’s helped in a lot of ways.”
The 2021 football season can’t come fast enough — not only because the country is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, but because the community continues to heal following Floyd’s death last May. Adams was in a delicate spot then as a Black police officer who was passionate about his job. He dealt with criticism of his department while helping his players make sense of it all. He had to leave his position as the school’s resource officer after the Minneapolis Public Schools ended its decadeslong relationship with the city’s police department in response to Floyd’s death while in the custody of its officers.
With the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death approaching this week, Adams said his team has other challenges that aren’t going away any time soon. Some players live in violent neighborhoods, so their friends and family members are at risk daily.
“That’s the stuff my boys worry about every day,” he said.
Even as racial justice has taken center stage in the national conversation and former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of Floyd’s murder, there’s little time for the Polars to exhale. It was during the Chauvin trial that Wright was shot by former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop. Adams’ players are watching the aftermath of that shooting play out too.
They can’t wait to get back to playing games.
“Right now, I think a lot of our players want to keep moving forward,” Adams said. “This time last year, I was working in the school and not knowing what was going to happen a week from now.
“My kids don’t really talk about it much just because there’s already enough going on in the neighborhood. So they are glad to have an opportunity to move forward and get back to normal, but they have to worry about the bullets flying over their head on the way to the weight room or to practice.”
Adams’ work with the Polars has brought him national attention. He has turned the program into a consistent winner in his 10 seasons at Minneapolis North, including a Class 1A state title in 2016. In April, Adams was named the Positive Coaching Alliance’s 2021 Coach of the Year for winning while having a positive impact on his players and community. Adams stayed back while the Twins went on a road trip to Southern California to take part in the virtual presentation — unaware that he was winning the award. Former Holy Angels star Larry Fitzgerald even taped a speech for the event. The award came with $10,000, which Adams used to purchase new uniforms.
“Those are the best awards to get,” Adams said, “because it’s not all about the X’s and O’s.”
Blame to go aroundIt’s hard to blame one person for Monday’s kerfuffle, when White Sox outfielder Yermin Mercedes swung at a 3-0 pitch by Twins emergency righthander Willians Astudillo and homered.
So let’s blame everybody.
Mercedes was wrong for swinging at the pitch while ahead by 11 runs. And the take sign was on.
Astudillo was wrong for flipping up 47 mile-per-hour pitches. Mix in something in the 60s, will ya?
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was wrong for voicing his disapproval of the swing. That was a hint there was going to be retaliation.
Tyler Duffey was wrong for throwing behind Mercedes the next day. Again, why didn’t the Twins let it go?
Home plate umpire Todd Tichenor was wrong not only for tossing Duffey but having to discuss it with his crew first.
Nothing happens if Mercedes takes on 3-0. When decisions like that are made, there’s going to be someone in the other dugout with sore feelings. And you saw the consequences.
Wrapping up the WolvesWhat did the Wolves just do?
They were sputtering right along, losing games and improving their chances of landing the top pick in NBA draft. Then they decided to play well, going 16-20 after the All-Star break and 9-7 over their last 16 games. Now the chances increase that they might end up outside the top three spots in the draft, which would mean Golden State gets the pick, based on the parameters of the Andrew Wiggins trade.
I’m not here to knock them for it. They were 11-9 when Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell played together. Anthony Edwards averaged 23.8 points after the break. Jaden McDaniels also impressed in his rookie season. Naz Reid looks like a capable backup center. There’s still plenty of work needed here, but the Wolves hit the offseason with some optimism that the program is trending upward.