Cloquet youth soccer starts fall seasonTeams in U-6, U-8, U-10, U-12 and U-13 divisions are off and running, with interest as high as it has ever been.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Quick quiz: Which community has the most players in Minnesota’s biggest youth soccer association?
Quick answer: Cloquet, which boasts approximately 550 players who started Arrowhead Youth Soccer Association lower division play this week.
Teams in U-6, U-8, U-10, U-12 and U-13 divisions are off and running, with interest as high as it has ever been.
“There are three divisions in the AYSA,” longtime local organizer Jon Waugh said. “The lower divisions, which are U-13 and below, play in the fall. The upper divisions, which are U-13 and up, play in the spring and summer at the same time as the competitive divisions, which are mostly older kids.”
Cloquet and Carlton place players in leagues together; Esko has a separate program with about 250 kids.
“For a community of that size to have that many players in the fall leagues is outstanding,” Waugh said.
The whole Cloquet Youth Soccer Association organizational effort is voluntary. The main organizers are Leigh Rahkola and Bobbie Conway, but everyone involved with CYSA (Cloquet Youth Soccer Association) helps.
“It’s a lot of volunteer work,” Waugh said. “It goes from lining the fields to moving goals to fertilizing fields to organizing clinics to handing out jerseys.”
And then there’s organizing those 500-plus players into teams.
“That takes from 50-100 hours alone,” Waugh said. “We try to pair kids with a few friends so there are people they know on their team, but we try to avoid asking for a specific coach or putting players on the same team year after year so they get ‘stacked.’”
“What we don’t want is for people to ask for a certain coach or team because they win all the time,” Waugh added. “We are a recreational association at this level.”
The exception to the player-pooling rule is Carlton. The CYSA will try to pair Carlton players together to lower travel costs and encourage car pooling where possible.
The CYSA has fielded teams in AYSA competition for about 15 years. The program boasts about 5,000 players in the region, which generally makes the AYSA the largest youth program in Minnesota.
“Cloquet is the biggest program in the AYSA, especially in the fall leagues,” Waugh said. “Eventually, we would like to pair with Esko to field competitive teams in the spring and summer competitive season. At the present time, Cloquet and Esko field a cooperative boys team while the girls play as separate schools. We would like to eventually field a ‘Carlton County United’ team but it’s only in the talking stages at present.”
For additional information on the program, the CYSA’s website can be found at www.cloquetyouthsoccer.com.