September 1965 was a big month on the Bloomington sports scene. The Minnesota Twins were getting close to clinching their first World Series berth, the Minnesota Vikings began their fifth year under head coach Norm Van Brocklin and a new high school on the corner of 98th St. and Nicollet Ave. began its first season of varsity athletics.
When students throughout Minnesota return to class on September 2, Bloomington Kennedy will begin its 50th year. In the first of a continuing series about Kennedy's first season, a look at what the high school sports landscape was like and where Kennedy fit in.
Kennedy's first principal was Robert Vinatieri and the Eagles first head football coach would later become the city's athletic director, Sonny Carlson.
Turn back the clock almost 50 years and the high school athletic scene was a lot different back then. There was no such thing as a muticlass tournament. Everything was conducted in one class. Opportunities for female athletes did not exist until the passage of Title IX seven years later. Wondering who the state football champion would be that year? There wasn't any. It would be seven years before the five class (now seven) playoff system would be implemented. Also, the first state soccer tournament would not take place until 1974.
The state basketball tournament was played at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus and the state hockey tournament site was the St. Paul Auditorium (now Roy Wilkins Auditorium).
Now where did Kennedy fit in as a newcomer in high school athletics? They were a member of the Lake Conference. In 1965, Kennedy was one of 11 schools in the Lake. Four of the five current conference members were also in the Lake. Wayzata, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Edina-Morningside. The fifth member, Eden Prairie would not join the conference until 1986. Kennedy's city rival the Lincoln Bears was also in the conference. Robbinsdale, Cooper, Richfield, St. Louis Park and Mound rounded out the conference field.
The inaugural football season for Kennedy would begin September 10 as the Eagles would open on the road at St. Cloud Tech. Their first season on the gridiron will be coming up in the next article.
Special thanks to Vonda Kelly of the Bloomington Historical Society for her guidance and support. The Minneapolis Tribune and wikipedia.org were sources used in this story.