MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - North High basketball coaches are teaching their players a lifelong lesson.
Coach Larry McKenzie’s North High Polars are ranked number one in the state right now and just one game away from going to the state tournament.
But for one night, Coach McKenzie had his players swapped out basketball drills for etiquette lessons and he hopes what they learn sticks with them for the rest of their lives.
Trading in their jerseys for shirts and ties, the North High Polars basketball team recently sat down for a seven-course meal and a lesson on life etiquette.
"Basketball is a microcosm of life," explained Coach McKenzie. "So part of my role as a coach is not just to prepare them for the hardwood but what happens after you leave me and what happens when you’re no longer able to bounce a ball."
And coach sees one piece of that preparation being proper etiquette in social situations like dinners, banquets, and job interviews. For help with this lesson, he teamed up with an expert.
"There’s a direct connection between success and how we carry ourselves as people," explained life etiquettes expert Juliet Mitchell.
Mitchell does teach proper use of utensils, but also proper manners, actions and behaviors -- something Mitchell learned from her grandmother. "She was insistent on good manners and respect and representing your family in the community when you went somewhere. We were taught to use proper English to speak well and I saw how those things paid off for me in life."
This experience is about believing in the future of all 35 of these boys, soon to be men. If not pro athletes then coach sees his kids as doctors, lawyers, restaurant managers -- the opportunities are endless, as long as the obstacles are minimal.
"When you leave me I want to try to take away as many excuses as I can," the coach explained. "So you won’t be able to say I never heard this, I never did this I never saw this. And once you have the information you’re making a choice whether to use it or not. But at least you know."