MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — When Minnetonka takes on Wayzata Friday night in the “Game of the Week” for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally, you will note one big fan.
He is the Minnetonka mascot, his name is Michael Korn and he is to his community the ultimate friend and fan.
It is a little unusual to see a 6 foot, 10-inch mascot get into his costume, but that’s what Michael Korn loves to do. He loves to be the “Skipper” for Minnetonka. He’s.a young man who was born to do this job and a young man who was born with autism.
“Being a mascot is such an amazing honor that you can achieve greatness,” said Korn, who is a regular on the sidelines at Minnetonka athletic events.
He is a part of the fabric of Minnetonka High School, in part because his parents made sure he was in the mix and in part because he’s been embraced by his classmates.
“We never could have imagined this for Micheal,” said Janice Newman, his mother. “This was a child that didn’t speak at all until he was 5. He worked really, really hard to try to blend in as much as he could at school. It was a lot of work and we tried to mainstream him as much as we could.”
It gets better. Last week, the school paid him tribute when he was voted the homecoming king.
“Being homecoming king is such an honor, it’s way beyond awesome to have,” Korn said. “To lead the school to the greatest victory in their lives.”
“It’s a good thing all the cameras were the other way. I was a big pink blubbery mess,” said Newman. “It was really exciting and I knew it would mean a lot to him. This high school time, these last three years so far have been amazing for him.”
Maybe his love of sports comes from his father, Jim Korn, a veteran of the NHL who was not afraid to drop the gloves.
“He liked to mix it up a little bit, but I never teased him about it,” Michael said. “That would be not nice.”
And it is being nice, Michael to his classmates and them back to him that has made this journey so compelling, so endearing and so normal.
“I like it a lot just to do my part for my school. The fun part is standing next to the cheerleaders and the dance team,” Michael said.
“We couldn’t be happier with how well that’s gone for him,” Newman said. “He loves it here. I think coach (Dave) Nelson who coaches the football team said several times that nobody has more school spirit than Michael Korn. He loves that.”