Soccer program reaches out to the youngest playersIt was organized chaos on the St. Paul’s Lutheran soccer field in Cloquet Tuesday evening as six groups of 3- and 4-year-old “Little NetBusters” took to the field with a head coach and one or two teenage helpers.
By: Jamie Lund, Pine Journal
It was organized chaos on the St. Paul’s Lutheran soccer field in Cloquet Tuesday evening as six groups of 3- and 4-year-old “Little NetBusters” took to the field with a head coach and one or two teenage helpers. Each group of nine kids was wearing a different colored T-shirt.
“Look at my pink nails,” a little girl proudly said.
“I need my shoe tied,” a little boy told his coach.
Another child wanted his mom with him on the field.
This is typical for the groups of small children, many of whom stay at home with mom and are not used to being around other kids outside the family. Most of the children were excited to participate in the age-appropriate curriculum, but every so often a child got overwhelmed and wandered off the field to his or her parent.
One of the NetBusters’ coaches, Brock Anderson, recently graduated from Esko High School and will be coaching the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys junior varsity soccer team this fall. Anderson will juggle coaching with being a student at UMD, going for a civil engineering degree this fall.
“We sought him out,” said Billie Waugh, one of the organizers.
“Why not, I’ll be a coach for NetBusters,” he said. “As long as they are having fun, I am doing my job.”
Jay Anderson proudly watched his grandson, 4-year-old Alex Gauss, on the mini-field. He has coached his daughter’s soccer team for several years and little Alex is excited to be involved in the sport.
“This is wonderful for the kids to get out and do this,” Anderson said. “It gets them off the couch and outside.”
Most of the coaches are college students who have played soccer themselves. The teenage helpers are current soccer players.
The Little NetBusters program started in the Cloquet and Duluth areas three years ago. They are part of the Arrowhead Youth Soccer Association (AYSA). However, NetBusters is different because the children from all area towns are welcome to play either at the Jean Duluth soccer fields in Duluth or the St. Paul’s soccer field in Cloquet. There are kids from as far away as Willow River participating in the Cloquet program.
The Cloquet group has more than doubled in size, growing from 50 to 113 this season. There are two sessions held each Tuesday evening until the end of August. Parents are required to stay during the practice.
“I had no idea it would be this successful,” Waugh said, noting the program began because parents of 3- and 4-year-old children were consistently signing their little ones up to play in the U-6 level as there was not anything else for younger children in the area.
The AYSA saw the Little NetBusters program had been implemented successfully at other associations and adopted the program for this area. The rest, as they say, is history.It was organized chaos on the St. Paul’s Lutheran soccer field in Cloquet Tuesday evening as six groups of 3- and 4-year-old “Little NetBusters” took to the field with a head coach and one or tw