Minnehaha Academy Blog

Basketball: Minnehaha Academy v. Sierra Canyon [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jan 4, 2020

What an amazing night of basketball at the Target Center! Minnehaha Academy defeated Sierra Canyon 78-58 in the ESPN Clash of Champions exhibition game.

View full gallery slideshow.

The Redhawk Boys' Basketball team played a fast-paced and exciting game to a crowd of 17,378 people - one of the highest attended at the Target Center in the last six years. It was also broadcast to more than 17,000 people on ESPN3.

A huge congratulations to our student athletes for the way they represented Minnehaha. We couldn't be more proud of all they have accomplished on the court and in the classroom.

We were fortunate to also have our very talented student Grace perform the National Anthem to begin the game. She truly shone in the spotlight on a national stage!

Students Grace, Prince (also on the basketball team), Zac, and Danyelle were featured on the big screens at the Target Center when our new Upper School video was shown during halftime. It was fun to share what life is like at Minnehaha to our basketball fans.

A huge thank you to all of the Redhawk community who came out to support the team. Your energy was palpable in the space and made the night so much fun.

Thank you also to the coaches, staff, the Target Center, ESPN, Paragon, and everyone else who made the night such a success!

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Topics: Upper School, Athletics

Matt Pryor '11 on Coming Home to Basketball & Minnehaha Academy

Posted by Amy Barnard on Nov 6, 2019

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It’s not often that someone sees a sports injury as God’s providence in their life, but when Matt Pryor (‘11) tore his UCL while pitching during his baseball career at Bethel University, he came to deem the event as just that.

   “I threw a slider, I felt it pop, and it was one of those moments where I knew right away: I just blew my arm out,” Matt says. It was only his second year at Bethel, and he saw the door closing on his baseball career.

   Pryor went on to have the unfortunate but well-known Tommy John surgery. Unfortunate because it means taking a tendon from another part of the body and using it to repair a damaged UCL. Well known, because it addresses one of the more common injuries among athletes who play throwing sports, made famous by the first pitcher to ever have the surgery, MLB All-Star pitcher Tommy John.

   While some UCL injuries allow players to eventually return to the mound, this was not the case for Matt.

   “That was really tough, because my identity was so wrapped up in being an athlete,” Pryor says. “It was definitely a soul-searching time of my life.”

   He turned his attention to obtaining a degree in physical education, but even still he found himself wrestling with God and his own heart over his future.

   “Once I stopped trying to open up all of the doors myself, once I finally started asking [God] to lead me down the path that he had set up for me…[and] I started following what I felt was his will, I found that a lot of those doors that were being shut in my face opened up to me.”

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The 2A Quarter Finals, which the Minnehaha girls won against St. Peter with a score of 56-37.

Coming Home

A pickup game of basketball led to a job offer coaching JV Girls’ basketball at Concordia Academy. That role paved the way for him to step into the varsity coaching role, even as his job in physical education set him up to be the Athletic Director at St. Thomas More.

   Then, in March of last year, Matt answered the phone to discover MA Athletic Director and former Girls' Basketball coach Josh Thurow on the other end.

   “He literally said, ‘It’s time to come home.’ And here I found myself.”

   The rest, as they say, is history. After a shaky start, Matt and assistant coach Scott Scholl led the Redhawk girls straight into the State championships where they took home the title for 2019.

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Also from the 2A Quarter Finals. The girls took the 2A Semi-Finals against Albany with a score of 70-67 and ultimately took the State Championship in a game against Caledonia with a score of 72-63.

Stepping Up to the Role

When Thurow invited Pryor to “come home,” this was no flip turn of phrase. Matt had spent 13 years at MA, playing baseball, basketball, and studying. As a student he felt known and cared for by both his peers and teachers, and he welcomed the possibility of re-entering the MA community.

   Part of coming home was also stepping back under the wing and mentorship of Thurow. “He was my teacher, he was my coach; he really invested in me as a player.... So from the moment I started coaching I would go to him, seeking advice; he would always make time for me to talk basketball, give coaching advice, give life advice, whatever it might have been.”

   That’s not to say Pryor immediately felt comfortable in his new role.

   “Josh’s record as a coach speaks for itself, so there were definitely some nerves coming in and trying to fill his shoes,” the young coach admits, laughing. “At the same time though, I was so incredibly excited.”

   Matt knew he was stepping into a space rich in talent; he had previously coached against and lost to Thurow and the Redhawks Girls’ team in previous years.

   “Knowing that we were coming into the season and had a chance to compete for the State Championship, the competitor in me, I mean, that just gets me going...To be able to take over a team that has as much talent as we had, that was incredibly exciting,” he says.

   And while he acknowledges that winning a State Championship right off the bat definitely set the bar high, the nerves he feels about the coming year are less fear and more “nervous excitement” about going out and defending their championship.

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A Matter of Identity

So, is Matt Pryor disappointed that he isn’t in the baseball world today? Not really.

   What you might not know is that basketball was actually Pryor’s first love.

   “I loved everything about it. I loved the intensity, I loved the fact that the fans are right there on top of you court-side and you can hear everything that they’re saying…[but] I was a better baseball player.”

   And so, in a roundabout way, as Matt surrendered control over his path to God’s leading, he found himself back in the world of basketball, in a very different role but also with a very different perspective on life as a whole:

   “I’m so glad [the injury] did happen, because you quickly begin to realize what’s important. Once you get your priorities straight, it's kind of amazing how everything else falls into place.”

   And herein lies the challenge: To continue forward from that foundation of trust, constantly remembering that all else is shifting sand.

  “When you wrap yourself up in an identity with something that can be taken away like that,” Matt says, “that’s not a solid base.” A good reminder for us all.


Join Minnehaha Academy! Learn how your child can shine at Minnehaha Academy - request Admission information today!

Topics: Upper School, Athletics, Alumni Stories

Chet Goes Viral: Dunks On Steph Curry

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Aug 8, 2019

It's always fun to see Minnehaha Academy students recognized for their achievements!

Student-athlete Chet set the internet ablaze when he dunked on NBA player Steph Curry at basketball camp. ESPN (watch at 17:37), NBC, Star Tribune, WCCO -- the Internet can't believe Redhawk Chet's moves. Check it out for yourself!

Topics: Upper School, Athletics

Minnehaha Seniors v. Faculty Basketball Game [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 10, 2019

The annual seniors v. faculty basketball game is on the books! The competition was fast and fierce and all teams had plays that brought fans to their feet in excitement. 

There were a few fast breaks, airballs, and and jump shots - but lots of laughs and cheering teammates.

Seven senior teams brought their "A-game" as they competed against Mike "The Situation" Dinardo, Nicholas "Buddy Holly" Freeman, Ryan "Ringo" Larson, Nathan "Picasso" Stromberg, Rich "Parabola" Enderton, Nathan "The Historian" Johnson, Dante "Great" Britten, Karen "Adele" Lutgen, Jason "The Human Eraser" Wenschlag, Anne "Bird Dog" Calvin, Josh "The Intern" Agrimson, and Kris "Not Sweet, But..." Sauer. 

Way to go, class of 2019!

Topics: Upper School, Athletics

Basketball, Swim Pep Fest

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 5, 2019

Yesterday, our Lower and Middle School students gathered in the gym to celebrate the recent Minnehaha Redhawk state championship titles earned in boys' and girls' basketball and boys' swimming.

The Upper School Boys' and Girls' Basketball teams and swimmer Andrew K, welcomed the students into the gym with a high-five tunnel before the fun and games began.

Athletic Director Josh Thurow introduced each team member and recognized their accomplishments. Jalen Suggs was also awarded Minnesota Player of the Year.

Lower and Middle School students competed against Upper School students in a contest where the Upper School student shot a basket and then the younger student had to copy the move using a smaller hoop.

All age levels competed against each other in a fast-paced game of knock out, with Girls' Basketball team member Mia winning the game.

Jalen and Chet competed in an entertaining dunk over contest, showcasing how much air they really can get!

The pep fest ended with everyone linking arms - Lower School students, Middle School students, Upper School students, teachers, and staff - for a time of prayer.

It was a great event and a fun way for our students to build community across age groups.

Special thanks to Steve Ramgren, Jim Nelson, and Carrie Johnson for sharing videos and photos.

Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Lower School, Athletics

Academics, Athletics, and the Arts: Junior Andrew Gives His Perspective

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 27, 2019

2019-Andrew-Karpenko-Minnehaha-Academy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-6 copyWhat is it like to be an academic, an athlete, and an artist at Minnehaha? We talked to one Minnehaha student about what it is like to pursue a variety of interests at MA.

AP Courses, Fine Arts, and Championship-Level Athletics

Junior Andrew certainly has a full schedule. He currently takes four Advanced Placement courses - Latin, English, biology, and calculus II. You'll also find him playing oboe with the symphony orchestra and playing the trombone in pep and jazz band. He's also a championship swimmer. This season he broke the all-time Class A state record in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breastroke.

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(Photo by Annika from 2018 State Swim Tournament.)

Andrew has attended Minnehaha Academy since second grade, and says it's the community and the teachers that have made a difference for him.

"One thing that has been constant at Minnehaha is the community. Despite anything the community goes through, we go through it together. We support each other. If anyone is in need of anything, people are there to help. It's a really close knit group."

Balance and Supportive Teachers

So how can a student succeed in academics, the arts, and athletics? Andrew says that for him sometimes there are a few late nights, but it mostly takes time management.

"As long as you put in the work, everything else is going to fall into place," said Andrew. "Teachers are willing to work with you. If I have a swim meet one day and I can’t get an assignment done on time, teachers will let me turn it in the next day. Teachers are very accommodating."


Feeling at Home with Minnehaha Students

When asked what advice he'd give others who were thinking of transferring to Minnehaha, he talked about how welcoming the other students are - and how they collaborate, rather than compete.

"If you’re worried about a small school - don’t be," said Andrew. "While the school can be a little small, the ability to know everyone in your grade by name and personality is much more of a blessing than a curse. You may feel that you'll stick out more in a small school, but everyone is going to have your back and there’s no reason to worry about being left out or left alone because everyone will support you and make you feel at home."

"The students here work together a lot. You can always ask someone for help with homework or studying. The environment is supportive, really safe, and I personally haven’t experienced anything with bullying or fighting or drama between students."

A Faith-Focused School, Without Being Pushy

At Minnehaha, Andrew appreciates the faith-driven learning. "It is comforting that the teachers will help you with your faith journey, and whatever step that may be [for each student]. You can go to a math teacher, you don’t have to just go to a bible teacher with questions."

"One thing that I have liked is that not every student here is a strong Christian or even would regard themselves as a Christian at all. The school, while faith focused, isn't pushy about anything. I've found teachers to be extremely respectful about different viewpoints, whether that is about religion or politics."

"Being in an environment that is both a welcoming Christian environment and is also open to a variety of different viewpoints is a great space to be in."

Senior Year at the Re-Imagined Upper School

Andrew's class is the only class that spent their freshman year at the Upper School before the explosion, had two years of school at the Mendota Campus, and then will be returning to the re-imagined Upper School for their senior year. 

"I’m excited about the new campus. It looks amazing just from a physical standpoint. It will be nice to get some breathing room and be able to find quiet places during a free period or flex, small meeting spaces where you can hang out with friends. It is going to be a fun learning environment and conducive to collaborative and stimulating learning."

"I know for my class especially, the senior class, we will be the only class to be in all three campuses, so that sense of coming home is going to be really strong. It will be fun to pick the new senior hang out spots. My classmates are going to have a fun time coming back, even though some spaces will look a lot different."

Topics: Upper School, Athletics, Fine Arts, Cultivating Potential, Exceptional Academics

Shining in Golf: Katie Detlefsen ('07)

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jan 31, 2019

katie-fMeet Katie Detlefsen ('07). At age three she picked up a golf club. By age six, she was competing in local junior tournaments in Minnesota. 

Today Katie competes on the LPGA tour, and she teaches the finer points of golf as a top-ranked LPGA instructor to her students in Bonita Springs, Florida.

In the summer she spends time in Minnesota teaching young girls how to play the sport, while imparting wisdom she learned in Minnehaha's classrooms while a student.

Shining In Academics and Athletics

At Minnehaha she learned how to compete at a high-level in golf while simultaneously achieving in academics. She attributes her success in the classroom and in golf to the support of her teachers and their interest in helping her achieve her dreams. She wasn't just growing her golf game while at MA, she was also growing in her faith walk. 

"MA gave me tools, especially the classes that were specific to reading the Bible and digging into the Word. It answered some of the really tough questions of life."

Katie remembers Rev. B (Bergstrom) being a significant influence, and Rev. Elliot helping his class to tie threads together between the Old and New Testament, such as Old Testament prophecy that was fulfilled in Christ. She was surrounded by teachers who passionately lived out their faith, no matter what subject they were teaching and that made a deep impact. 

Sharing the Gift of Golf

Katie sees her time in the summer running the girls' golf club as her opportunity to pass on the gift of the game she received as a young child. Life lessons abound in golf, and Katie sees how valuable the game can be. She's passionate about growing the game, getting more people involved, and having fun.

God Using Gifts for Good

Meeting people of all ages around the world, has given her opportunities to share her faith with those who have never heard about Jesus before.

"When I was little, all I wanted to do was be a champion golfer and win all the tournaments. My dad said, 'I think God is going to use your golf to help other people.'  It’s funny how God has directed my path--now I get to use golf to help other people, and to have an impact on young people. I’ve gotten to have some success, but go figure-- using golf to help others has been the best part."

Join Minnehaha Academy! Learn how your child can shine at Minnehaha Academy - request Admission information today!

Topics: Athletics, Alumni Stories

Minnehaha Academy's Nordic Team Meets Jessie Diggins

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 13, 2018

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It was a fun afternoon for Minnehaha Academy's Nordic Ski student athletes at the State Capitol. 

Students met Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins and were able to get autographs, hugs, ski secrets, and even hold her gold medal. They also talked to Representative Jean Wagenius about a snow making project that is a part of an upcoming bonding bill.


Topics: Athletics

We have a State Champion!

Posted by Melissa Mortenson on Mar 7, 2018

Sophomore Andrew Karpenko swam his best at the State Meet in early March and placed first in the 200 individual medley, and second in the 100 breaststroke!


In a recent Pioneer Press article https://www.twincities.com/2018/03/03/class-a-boys-swimming-minnehaha-academys-andrew-karpenko-wins-200-im/ Andrew commented, "This is something special… especially after everything that’s happened this year, I mean this is just for the school.”


He and his family are grateful for the opportunity to swim competitively, as he is the sole swimmer representing Minnehaha Academy, and practices with the team from Breck and Blake. “We still can't quite believe that he achieved all his goals,” said his mother, Karen Karpenko.“  It would not have been possible without a huge collective effort. We are especially grateful to the coaches and athletes at Breck and Blake who treat Andrew like a true member of the team.“


It's a unique arrangement that ended with a successful year for all, as the Breck/Blake Swim team earned top team honors at the Class A State Meet. Karen added, “Throughout the season, the level of sportsmanship and camaraderie shown to Andrew by many other teams in our Section was quite touching and truly remarkable (Fridley, St. Thomas Academy, and Columbia Heights especially).”

Topics: Upper School, Athletics

Learning to Cross Country Ski

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Feb 23, 2018

First and second grade students had the opportunity to learn cross country skiing this week! Lower School teacher and Nordic ski coach Ms. Britt Guild led the students in an hour long lesson on the basics of skiing. Students learned how to glide, how to fall, and how to get up through a variety of fun games. Middle and Upper School Nordic ski team members were on hand to have fun with the younger students and help them learn! 

Special thanks to head Nordic ski coach Anne Rykken. Ms. Rykken began the Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL) in the early 90s. The organization is still around today and instills a love of cross country skiing in children. Ms. Guild is an MYSL coach, and the skis used by Minnehaha students this week were donated to MYSL for coaches and members to use as outreach. A fun tidbit, Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins learned how to ski through MYSL in Afton, MN! 

Special thanks to Ms. Guild and students in the Nordic ski team for their work to create new opportunities for Minnehaha students. Thanks as well to Ms. Rykken!

Topics: Lower School, Athletics

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