Leonard Neiman was a pilar of Southwest Minneapolis with a legacy of being a coach, mentor and giving back to his community throughout his lifetime.
Lenny was brought up by a single parent and graduated from Washburn High School. As a hockey player at Washburn, he developed the nickname "Coach Neiman" on the ice from his teammates and coaches. He went on to play hockey at the University of Minnesota and then went into Marine Core Officer Training at Notre Dame.
As Lenny was always passionate about working with youth and youth development, he began his career in creating youth summer camps. As he went on to working in wholesale clothing sales, Lenny continued volunteering and coaching in the Southwest community. In 1957, he led the Audubon 6th grade boys football team to a city championship. "Len’s Boys" was the nickname in the community for the football teams Lenny coached that fed directly into Southwest’s competitive football program. Lenny loved coaching! Lenny’s wife, Dolores, developed "D’s girls" right alongside for cheerleading when female sports were not yet accessible.
Lenny was involved in the early formation of the Southwest Activities Council (SWAC), LARC (Lynnhurst Activities Council), and PIRC (Pearl Activities Council) that still serves the youth in the Southwest community for organized recreation today. As Lenny believed in sports for everyone, he helped fundraise and organize sports for the Native American community, King Park (formally Nicollet Field) Football team and was an early supporter of female sports (specifically softball) prior to Title IX. Lenny continued to coach, solicit sponsors, and serve on the SWAC board until the early 1990’s.
Lenny’s legacy grew as he was elected Commissioner of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board from 1968 to 1976. During this time, Lenny continued to be a passionate supporter of youth sports and programs, where he was instrumental in developing youth wrestling into the local park’s sports offerings.
Lenny had a long legacy of giving back to the community that he loved. He was a builder of people, wanted others to have success, and inspired those around him by giving them confidence to succeed. In 2001 the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board named their state-of-the-art sports facility after Lenny in honor of his service and dedication to youth sports.
Lenny and Doroles’ six children were strongly encouraged to engage in their community. Five of their children graduated from Southwest High School and went on to work with youth in many capacities and served on the City Council, Park and Recreation Board and developed the Southwest Community Ed program that continues to thrive in the community today. Lenny and Dolores’ children, 11 grandchildren and great-grand children continue to carry on Lenny’s legacy of making their community a better place today.