How immigration is changing high school sports in Greater Minnesota

Aaron Haqen/The Globe

Aaron Haqen/The Globe

From MinnPost.

On a field outside of Worthington High School, a teenager who just came back from Guatemala for the summer asks the school district’s activities director, Josh Dale, if he can join the boys soccer team, which is gearing up for practice.

Dale gives him the rundown — he must first fill out paperwork before participating — while head coach Juan Flores tells the kid, in Spanish, to come back the next day to begin the process.

Practice is still on for this late-summer weekday afternoon, despite barely escaping a rainstorm that passed through this southern Minnesota city of 13,000 people in the last few hours. Nearly 60 teenage boys are already here, stretching and getting ready to begin. The school’s girls soccer team, of which about 50 students showed up for today, is wrapping up its practice.

Of all of the students on the field, just a sliver of them — less than half a dozen — identify as white. The vast majority are Latino, while students of Laotian, African and African-American ethnicities also make up a sizable portion.

For Greater Minnesota, this kind of racial makeup is increasingly becoming the norm. Though Worthington’s rapid pace of change may be more dramatic than most places’ — the city saw a big influx of immigrants over the past few decades thanks largely to available jobs at a nearby meatpacking plant — more and more school districts outside of the Twin Cities have become majority-minority. The state projects Minnesota’s non-white population will grow by more than half a million people over the next two decades.

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