Cottage Grove's Vikings of Tomorrow
Cheers echo a little differently in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome than they do on Cottage Grove athletic fields.
Or at least they did when area fans celebrated touchdowns from their own Cottage Grove Athletic Association Pee Wee football players last Sunday in Minneapolis.
The CGAA's fifth- and sixth-grade football players were selected to participate in the Vikings of Tomorrow, an inaugural program sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings that showcases youth football teams in pregame scrimmages before Vikings' home games this season.
About 80 CGAA football players took to the field for 30 minutes, scrimmaging each other on one half of the turf while Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders warmed up on the other end.
And even though the contest between the Viking and the Raiders was still hours away, Cottage Grove football players had at least 300 fans -- local supporters who signed up to watch the outing in advance -- on their feet during the 10 a.m. scrimmage.
"It's a huge deal," said CGAA Pee Wee director and coach Brent Cuttell. "Obviously not every community gets an opportunity to do this. We're bringing more people to the game than any other community that's done this before."
The Vikings of Tomorrow program is new this season, launched as a way to give youth leagues the
chance to introduce the fundamentals of the game in a professional atmosphere. CGAA players were also given free lunches and game tickets.
The CGAA, a program that boasts over 350 youth football players throughout its Mites, Wee Pee and Pee Wee programs, was chosen for last Sunday's honor via the efforts of Shane Eckes, one of the Pee Wee coaches.
Eckes heard about the program last summer and submitted an entry form stating why Cottage Grove should be selected.
"I had to put in a paragraph, 500 words or less on why the Pee Wee program of Cottage Grove would benefit from this; why they deserved to be chosen," Eckes said. "Cottage Grove's Pee Wee football program was drawn out of a five-state area."
Highlights from the scrimmage were posted on the video board during the game and a video tape of the scrimmage will be available for purchase.