Assefa stays involved with basketball through Minnesota Heat team


Submitted by Simon Assefa

Sophomore Simon Assefa goes up for a contested layup. Even as the SPA basketball season ended before spring break, Assefa is currently playing with the Minnesota Hear through the The Amateur Athletic Union.

As the spring sports season has progressed, students in their off-season have been looking for a way to stay active and involved in athletics. For sophomore Simon Assefa, that means finding a way to play basketball throughout the spring and summer seasons.

The Amateur Athletic Union is an organization in the United States that hosts a number of sports leagues and opportunities for athletes who are looking for further competitive experience within their sport. Assefa is playing for the Minnesota Heat in the boys basketball league, which not only travels within but also outside of Minnesota.

“Out-of-state tournaments… are super regulated because the team wants to stay safe. It takes away from the community a little bit because we have to room with our family and stuff, so you don’t get the same team culture,” Assefa said.
Even with the loss in team culture, the benefits of playing a sport outweigh the drawbacks of playing with COVID-19 for Assefa.

We also have to play with a mask which of course isn’t ideal and it’s a lot harder, but it’s worth it.

— Simon Assefa

“We have to select specific gyms that are big enough to hold all the team members and also meet COVID protocols. We also have to play with a mask which of course isn’t ideal and it’s a lot harder, but it’s worth it,” said Assefa.
Since the AAU and Minnesota Heat is doing the best it can to keep COVID numbers down within the program, and with vaccinations becoming more available to people within the teenage age range, it is becoming more safe for these out of school programs to thrive again.
Boys head varsity basketball for St. Paul Academy Coach Brent Kinder is the coach for Minnesota Heat, and recommended the opportunity for Assefa and other teammates who felt they could benefit from the opportunity.The league has a competitive culture that requires a set of tryouts to make a team, so there is an expectation that players would be committed and ready to take on the season.
Overall, the AAU is a way to improve athletic programs and shape the training of athletes who can then excel in their athletic abilities, a great opportunity for athletes who want to continue to train throughout their off seasons.