High school’s essay received the most online votes out of three finalists

    Families, local celebrities and athletes of all ages gathered at  SCHEELS in Grand Forks Wednesday evening to kick off the upcoming school year and sports season. The family-friendly celebration marked the store’s first-ever Back to Practice event outside the Columbia Mall, where three local athletic departments won donations, training experts conducted demonstrations, and attendees enjoyed a complimentary meal and music, inflatable games and an autograph signing.

    The event highlighted a SCHEELS essay contest and vote that ran through the summer and gave area elementary, middle and high school athletic departments the chance to win gift certificates, with prizes totaling $10,000. Three finalists took home donations on Wednesday; Crookston High School won first place, Holy Family-St. Mary’s second place and Valley Middle School third place, each receiving $6,000, $3,000 and $1,000 respectively in SCHEELS gift certificates. All prize dollars will go to improve local student athletic experiences, equipment and programming.

    CHS Activities Director Greg Garmen says the money will be spent on weight room equipment.

    Young athletes also got to hear advice and encouragement from University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey Coach Brad Berry and former UND men’s hockey player and Winnipeg Jets Rookie Tucker Poolman. Both celebrities were happy to spend the evening signing autographs and taking pictures with their fans.

    The Grand Forks store was one of only two SCHEELS locations to hold the first Back to Practice events. The entire SCHEELS team aims to help kids in surrounding communities feel informed, inspired and active as the school year approaches and fall practices begin. All 27 SCHEELS stores across 12 states host and support community-based events throughout the year to further this mission.