An all-state bowler, standout student and community leader, Spring Lake Park senior Immanuel Reynolds was honored with the Minnesota Adapted Athletics Association Russ Bakko Outstanding Bowler Award for the 2019-20 school year.
The award recognizes athletic excellence, in addition to high levels of character and service, among bowlers throughout the state.
“Immanuel has been a great ambassador to Spring Lake Park High School and represents our school and community about as well as you could ever ask a young person to,” said Doug Potthoff, Spring Lake Park teacher and adapted athletics coordinator. “Participating in the SLPHS activities program is often a great experience for many of our kids. None more so than for Immanuel! His enjoyment of competing, growth in confidence practicing and leadership development in and out of the classroom continually evolved throughout all the years I’ve known him, from his time at Westwood Intermediate all the way through his four years at SLPHS.
“He’s a special kid to me and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. And I’ll say this is a huge credit to his parents for doing such an outstanding job in partnering with all of us teaching and coaching him in SLP Schools. I’m sure they are incredibly proud of him like all of us are in our school district!”
Reynolds picked up bowling competitively upon entering high school. It didn’t take long for him to begin experiencing success, leading up to his performance at state a year ago in which he earned all-state honors and a spot in school history.
“I started getting into bowling my freshman year when I went with Mr. Potthoff’s group to go bowling,” Reynolds said. “My sophomore year I started getting into tournaments and my junior year I got 10th place in my ASD group at state. I don’t think I hit my best score, but it felt good to get the medal and get on the wall of fame in my school.
“I didn’t know about the (Russ Bakko) award until Mr. Potthoff told me he nominated me. I wasn’t expecting to get it, so it was nice. It also feels great to be the first one to get it too from Spring Lake Park.”
Achieving new personal records was the best part of the sport, Reynolds said, as well as competing against the top bowlers in the state.
“It’s a good opportunity for kids to have a chance to compete in bowling and get in the state (tournament),” Reynolds said. “There’s different groups, they have just as much of a chance to get all-state and become all-state and win something. I feel like that’s a good program for them and for those who want to go bowling during the day.”
Reynolds also made a mark at Spring Lake Park in the classroom and was a multi-time earner of the PE Student of the Month Award. His work ethic, volunteer efforts and consideration for other students were noted by several teachers in his nomination for the Russ Bakko Award.
“Immanuel was my TA this year in our Developmental/Adapted Physical Education classes,” Potthoff said. “He was extremely mature and reliable to have as an assistant and incredibly patient with his peers and the younger kids in class. To say that Immanuel is a good addition to a classroom, a team or part of a workforce is a huge understatement. He’s just a good person and leads well by example. For Immanuel to be considered in this process and let alone be the recipient of this award is just outstanding. ‘High Expectations, High Achievement for All. No Excuses’ – this is our school district mission statement in ISD 16 in all entities of each of our jobs in the school district. The goal as educators in our district is to try and know each student in Spring Lake Park Schools by name, strength, interest and need, leading to personalized student work and learning experiences. Immanuel made this very easy to help all of us adults get to know him and help meet his interests and needs to develop as a student.
“My MSHSL purpose statement as a coach is to communicate and lead others by demonstrating commitment, compassion, integrity and perseverance, so that they develop into a better person. And in all my years working with Immanuel, I feel like I was able to do that in and out of the classroom with him. He bought in early on because he’s got a pretty good internal drive, work ethic and has always been a mature young man. It may sound cliché, but the body of work, his development, participation, developmental progress and his ability to fit in and be a great teammate with every group he’s been a part of is truly remarkable!”
In addition to being an all-state bowler, Reynolds was active in the school’s track and field and weightlifting programs, leaving a far-reaching legacy in multiple facets of the school.
“There are numerous memories, having known Immanuel as long as I have as a teacher and coach,” Potthoff said. “Having fun in my experiences spending so much time with him and seeing his incremental development in the classroom, in the weight room, competing and leading as a TA has been very gratifying as a 30-year educator.
“When Immanuel received a medal at the state bowling tourney in 2019, that was awesome, and now he has his photo with his medal up on our wall of fame of our outstanding athletes forever. And that will serve as a great conversation piece for others as to what can be achieved with some desire, discipline and dedication in a pursuit to be your best.”