Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park youth football programs nearly end affiliationLeaders of the Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park youth football programs hope to draw up a game plan to salvage their strained relationship.
By: Patrick Johnson, South Washington County Bulletin
Leaders of the Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park youth football programs hope to draw up a game plan to salvage their strained relationship.
The two youth football programs hope to resolve a number of issues that nearly led the organizations to sever ties with one another.
The affiliation was jeopardized after the Cottage Grove Athletic Association’s football board recently sent a letter to the St. Paul Park Athletic Association announcing it intended to cut the ties between the programs.
Representatives from the programs said they did not want to comment on any specific issues that led to Cottage Grove’s letter, but the issues are believed to include hard feelings over St. Paul Park players’ photos being left out of an annual area football program and contentious e-mails sent back and forth between individuals in the two programs.
The problems came to a head just as a new football coach was named at Park High School. For the most part, kids playing for St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove go on to attend Park High School.
The groups plan to begin discussions this week on how they can remain affiliated.
“We know in Cottage Grove it’s in our best interest to keep them with us,” said Tony Young, Cottage Grove Athletic Association football vice president and Pee Wee director. “But, there is a mentality that it’s us against them and it can’t be that way. We need to work together. The thing we have to come up with is a solution to figure out how we can.”
Young said a meeting was planned for Friday, March 4, among members from the two programs and possibly new Park head football coach Darin Glazier.
Marshall Freeman, St. Paul Park Athletic Association’s football director, said there is no new agreement yet and that his organization still is in talks with Cottage Grove and Glazier.
“Hopefully, we can hammer it out,” he said.
The Cottage Grove Athletic Association football program, a nonprofit volunteer organization serving over 350 youth football players, is for individuals in first grade through sixth.
The program includes three levels — Mites (grades 1 and 2), Wee Pees (grades 3 and 4) and Pee Wees (grades 5 and 6). The Pee Wee program is full-contact, 11-man football played on a regulation size football field and is the final step before junior high football. Pee Wee games are played between Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Hastings and Prescott, Wis.
The St. Paul Park Athletic Association has roughly 30 to 35 kids in football at the Wee Pee and Pee Wee levels.
Freeman said they are trying to find a way to play together next fall.
“Hopefully, with the new coach, we can get those (issues) ironed out and become one again,” he said.
Young, a 1991 Park graduate who played high school football, has been with the Cottage Grove Athletic Association the past five years. He said there is “absolutely no bad blood” between the two youth organizations.
“I think coach Glazier coming in and help set standards and guidelines and put a vision out there for both programs will help immensely,” Young said. “I’m hoping we can find a common ground, build a better relationship and, in the end, set up a strong foundation for our high school football program.”