Lalley: A little spot with a rich North End history

The legacy of Nusier Salem Field, named for a legendary Cathedral High School coach, lives with a new game, familiar spirit.

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Nusier Salem Field at Terrace Park has served many purposes, including junior football, T-ball and tennis. It's next life will be the site of the first mini-pitch soccer facility in the city.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

SIOUX FALLS — I had a flashback this week.

A way-back flash to 1976.

I was standing on the tennis courts at Terrace Park, talking about plans to convert the space into mini-pitches for soccer.

This area of Terrace Park, just north of the pool and nestled up against the tip of Covell Lake, has a long sports history and special place in North End neighborhood lore.

This patch of ground is called Nusier Salem Field.


Passersby may notice the Parks and Recreation Department sign at the corner of Menlo Avenue and Madison Street. Most probably don’t pay it much attention.

For me, it’s a place where memories flash like leafing through a family photo album.

This is not intended to walk you through a time-warp travel log of the North End. Rather, it’s a realization that the spirit of community and service binds us Sioux Fallsians across the decades back to the earliest days of the city.

A bit of history, however, is required for context.

Nusier Salem is a mythical figure among the old-timers of the North End.

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The tennis courts at Terrace Park will be converted to a mini-pitch soccer facility.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

He was the head football coach at Cathedral High School from 1937 to 1953. It wasn’t a real job. In those days, the small Catholic high school didn't pay coaches so it was basically a volunteer position.

The Cathedral Irish football team practiced at Terrace Park as there wasn’t room at the school on North Duluth Avenue. The Parks Department dedicated Nusier Salem field in 1976, when it was the home of the junior football program in the city.

Which is where the big wheel in my memory stopped this week.


I have flashes of the dedication ceremony (I think), mixed with cold nights under the lights playing on the rock hard ground.

Dakota Soccer Alliance, Neighborhood Soccer and the City of Sioux Falls hope the mini-pitch at Terrace Park is the first of many.

I remember a summer day when I rode my bike to the equipment shack and Mike Thurman, the coach of Terrace Park Dairy team, asked if I wanted to play.

Moments of games.

The childhood faces of players that I still know and see today.

Parents screaming on the sidelines.

My brother pulling me over backward by the shoulder pads after a game.

For many years, Nusier owned the Sportsman’s Bar near where the Sioux Falls Police Department headquarters sits today. Everybody just called it Nusier’s and it was a popular hangout for North Enders.

It was a small place filled with cigarette smoke and conversation, often about sports.


I was back on Nusier Salem Field to learn more about mini-pitches, which are playground-level venues for soccer. It’s a place where kids and adults can gather to play the international game in a fast, contained version called futsal, rather than futball.

I wrote a story about it this week that you can read here.

It’s a great idea.

But what struck me in the moment, and has stuck with me since, is the connection between generations.

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Frank Gurnick, executive director of the Dakota Alliance Soccer Club, at the Terrace Park tennis courts on Tuesday, April 28, 2023. The tennis courts will be converted to a mini-pitch soccer facility.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

Frank Gurnick, the executive director of Dakota Alliance Soccer Club, has a vision to bring soccer into the neighborhoods to serve the kids who don’t have a chance to join organizations like the one he runs.

Soccer is an incredibly popular sport in the city.

It’s also decidedly suburban.

The idea is to re-purpose little-used tennis courts and other spots to give kids and families a place to play the game and develop skills in the same way it’s been played for decades around the world.


It’s Gurnick’s job to support soccer. Dakota Alliance supports 4,000 kids as well as adult leagues in the city. But he’s not getting paid to reach into under-served, often poor, neighborhoods.

As he told me, it’s not about soccer, it’s about community.

“If you want a vibrant community, these are the things you need to do,” he said.

Several projects are underway or in the development stages, from splash parks to ice skating to mini-soccer fields, with the help of public-private collaboration.

It felt good to be back at Nusier Salem Field with my memories.

It felt better knowing that the space isn’t forgotten.

Nusier Salem died in 1991. I didn’t know him as a real person, just as that mythical figure.

I like to think that he’d be proud though, that this little corner of the North End will encourage another generation of kids to have fun, learn the game and make a few memories.

Opinion by Patrick Lalley
Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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