Minneapolis North High basketball coach and community pillar Larry McKenzie announces retirement
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - For nearly a decade, Larry McKenzie has been the boys' basketball coach at Minneapolis North High School.
But after winning two state championships and coming in second for two more, Coach McKenzie is calling it quits.
"I've shed a few tears. It wasn't a decision I made in haste," said McKenzie.
Before he joined North, McKenzie led Patrick Henry to four consecutive state titles, the first coach in Minnesota State Basketball history to do so. He is also the first coach in Minnesota State High School history to lead two separate schools to multiple titles. Now, at 65 years old, McKenzie says he wants to spend more time with his wife and four grandchildren.
He also says changes to the game he loves over the years, like overly involved parents and the new name image and likeness policy for high school athletes in Minnesota convinced him it was time to move on.
"At this stage, I feel a little too old to be dealing with that. The game has changed. It's more about social media highlights. It's not about building teams and winning high school championships anymore. Just decided that's not the basketball I want to be a part of," said McKenzie.
But colleagues say McKenzie is more than just a basketball coach.
He teaches his athletes life lessons about everything from how to get into college to restaurant etiquette.
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They also say he's a pillar of the community who has helped students get through difficult times, like the murder of North High quarterback Deshaun Hill, who also played on the freshman basketball team, back in February.
"You can't replace his impact. People can try but there's only one Larry McKenzie. And what he does he is so impactful, both on and off the court, there are going to be big shoes to fill," Director of Boys Basketball Operations Minneapolis North and Asst. Boys Basketball coach Trent Witz.
McKenzie says he still wants to mentor young coaches and hopes to find a new role to support North High, so while he may be stepping back from basketball, he says he's not completely stepping away.
"I love North Minneapolis and I will continue to be a part of as many things as I can be a part of," said McKenzie.