Police officer coaches basketball at Minneapolis elementary school

In the small gym of Lucy Laney Elementary, progress is about more than what’s happening on the court alone.

“I love basketball, I love the sound of the game,” said head coach Mike Friestleben.

Wherever you look, there are bouncing balls and players doing their best to improve. For many, it’s their first taste of basketball.

“I wasn’t that good, I just knew how to shoot a lot,” said one young player. 

“I feel like we are getting better as team,” said another. 

For Friestleben, also a police officer with Minneapolis police, it’s another chance to give back.

“You are looking at a school that’s in a volatile area, and to have especially a police officer here coaching and being a part of the area, it’s huge,” said Friestleben.

In their first few tournaments the team struggled, but in recent weeks improvements have shown up as wins. And while their season is wrapping up, excitement for what is still to come continues to grow.

“Not only are we learning lessons, but we’ve become friends, today – tomorrow and here on in,” said Friestleben.