Farmington group will honor memory of youth-sports pioneer
Louis Schmitz always believed in the importance of giving kids the opportunity to play sports. Now that he's gone, the people he reached over the years want to make sure those opportunities continue.
To do that, Schmitz's family and some of the many people he coached over the years have teamed up to start the Louis Schmitz Foundation. For the first time this spring the group will offer a scholarship to two seniors -- one boy and one girl -- graduating from Farmington High School. It will also offer help to youth athletes whose families are unable to pay participation fees.
"A bunch of those (former players) wanted to do something to keep his memory alive and help the youth of Farmington like he used to do," said Randy Schmitz, one of Louis' sons. "We talked about kind of keeping in with his philosophy of kids having the opportunity to participate in activities."
A committee has formed to evaluate scholarship applications and applications for help with youth athletic fees. Though Schmitz was most closely associated with hockey and football in Farmington, his son said the foundation will offer help to athletes in all sports.
The foundation is accepting donations, but much of its funding comes from a golf tournament held in Louis Schmitz's honor. The first Louis Schmitz Foundation Golf Tournament took place last summer. Schmitz wouldn't say how much the event raised, but he called it a big success.
"It was just a great social event," he said. "We had a lot of people that knew dad or that dad coached when they were young.
"It was a really well-organized and well-attended event."
Louis Schmitz came to Farmington in 1954 to take a job and was instrumental in the formation of the city's first youth hockey program. He started the city's first girls hockey program in 1965, 30 years before the sport was recognized by the Minnesota State High School League. He was inducted into the Women's Hockey Association Hall of Fame in 2005.
Schmitz was also involved in the creation of youth baseball and softball programs in Farmington and continued to run the city's youth football program into his 80s. He died last December from complications related to stomach cancer.
Randy Schmitz said it has been humbling to see how many people have stepped up to carry on his father's legacy.
"It makes you feel great that people that he helped are giving back to the community," he said. "He always believed that no matter what community you live in the young people deserve opportunities that you had."
Application forms for the Louis Schmitz Memorial Scholarship are available now on the foundation's website at louisschmitzfoundation.org. Contributions to youth athletes will be handled through each of the city's youth sports organizations.