Youth football: Cottage Grove starting flag football leagueThe Cottage Grove Athletic Association is starting a flag football league, at the mite level, for the first time this year.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
This summer, kids in Cottage Grove won’t need to go to Oakdale to play football.
The Cottage Grove Athletic Association is starting a flag football league, at the mite level, for the first time this year.
The fun, but competitive, introductory league will run from early August to the middle of October. It’s for first and second graders and open to kids from Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport and surrounding communities.
Last year, three Cottage Grove and eight East Ridge Athletic Association flag football teams were formed and competed in the Oakdale Athletic Association’s flag football league. However, this year, the new CGAA flag football program will replace the mites clinic, which was done in years past.
The league will be managed by Dan Smoot, the mites director for CGAA football.
Smoot graduated from Park in 1994 and went on to play college football at St. John’s University for coaching legend John Gagliardi.
“Last year we had 30-35 kids play in a league out in Oakdale,” Smoot said. “I was born and raised in St. Paul Park and there’s 30,000 to 35,000 people who live here in the area and felt we shouldn’t have to drive out to Oakdale for this type of league.”
In some metro area communities, flag football is becoming what t-ball has been to baseball for decades. Neighboring Woodbury has had a flag football league for many years and had 16 teams in its league this past season.
The new CGAA flag football league will be a seven-on-seven format on a shortened field. Each team will have roughly 10 players. Smoot is hoping 80 to 100 kids will take part in the league. Each team will play each other once and there will likely be an end-of-the-year tournament.
“It’s not a crazy, technical thing, but more about getting experience for the kids and teaching them a little about the game,” Smoot said. “I think it’ll help the kids as they move into the Wee Pee (third-grade) level, give them the basic fundamentals about snapping the ball, getting in and out of the huddle and that kind of stuff. I just think the experience is the biggest and best thing.”
Smoot said he played flag football in St. Paul Park when he was little and said his two boys, Will, 7, and Emmet, 4, will each play in the league. Will played in Oakdale last year. Emmet is too young to play this year, but will play when he’s old enough.
“The kids like to be part of a team, they have fun with that,” Smoot said. “We’ll get them working on the fundamentals and have some fun. At this age, nobody remembers the score of a game, we just want them to get exposed to the sport and give them a positive experience so they want to keep playing.”
At the former mites clinic, CGAA coaches and Park High School players worked with the kids for one hour on four Saturdays on specific aspects of football through a variety of stations. Also, a portion of the mites clinic was devoted to scrimmages. The cost of the clinic was $25. The new flag football league will cost $75, but will include roughly seven or eight games and weekly practices.
“At last year’s clinic they had 80 to 100 kids, so the numbers were there,” Smoot said. “I think we can get it to happen. I know that in the past it was only $25, but that was just for the four hours. Now, it’s going to be a league with practice and games and we’ll be playing twice a week. I hope that additional cost doesn’t scare anyone away.”
According to its website, the CGAA football program is for all individuals in grades 1-6. The primary goal of the program is to teach the game of football in a way that emphasizes the fundamentals, creates a competitive atmosphere and allows the players to have fun learning the game. CGAA football is a nonprofit volunteer organization serving over 350 youth football players.
Interested parties can register for flag football at the CGAA youth football registrations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 23, and Saturday, April 30, or from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, at the Youth Services Building.
For more information visit www.cgaafootball.org or contact Dan Smoot.
“We’ll get out there and do the same things over and over, get the kids into a routine and give them structure,” Smoot said. “Last year they really liked it and had a good time. Part of this is trying to create a buzz around the program, starting at an early age so we can win some more football games throughout all the levels.”
MITES FLAG FOOTBALL
Register for Mites flag football at the CGAA youth football registrations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 23, and Saturday, April 30, and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, at the Youth Services Building. For more information visit www.cgaafootball.org or contact Dan Smoot.