July 29, 2004 at 1:35 p.m.

Comparing Notes-

-A look at how two local districts are tackling traveling football
Comparing Notes-
Comparing Notes-

Forest Lake High School-

What’s the situation

Like Chisago Lakes, the Forest Lake district was introduced to traveling football last year for the first time. The traveling team football program ran a seventh grade team last year. This season, Joel Olson, Activities Director at Forest Lake, expects to see a seventh and eighth grade team, in addition to their middle school programs.

“We’re running into the same issue. Kids are not going out for school ball and are going with the other program,” said Olson. “We’re not in support of it. We feel that school ball can provide more opportunities, but some parents feel that it’s better for their kids to play traveling team.”

What does the

future hold?

The similarities can been be seen across the board. Olson believes that the trend will continue, and the battle for bodies will be as competitive as ever. Can the two programs co-exist? Can the Middle School program survive?

“From parents, I guess they just thought that their kids weren’t getting a good experience in school ball,” replied Olson. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. With budget cuts, anything is possible. From our standpoint, we really can’t go anywhere. We can’t raise fees to make that money back. We’re already charging enough, we really can’t charge anymore. It’s going to be interesting.”

What’s the solution?

The topic is brought up almost everyday. How can you make both programs work?

At Forest Lake, although they have by no means solved the problem, they are currently trying to come up with some solutions, hoping the answers they come up with will lead to a solution that will make everyone happy.

“We’ve worked so that our head coaches have the say in what we do. They have a say in what goes into the program, what we run in terms of plays, they have control over the hiring of personnel,” said Olson. “Our varsity head coach is behind this all the way. Some parents wanted us to run the same systems at the Middle School level that they do at the high school level, so we decided to do that. Having the varsity coaches involved is important.”

North Branch H.S-

What’s the situation

No question, North Branch is in an entirely different boat, which is what makes it so interesting. To this point, the only traveling team they have is a sixth grade squad. From there, players filter into the Middle School program. In short, the programs are not competing, but that’s not to say it will be that way forever.

“I think it’s the nature of the beast,” replied Becky Leuer, North Branch Activities Director. “I think that eventually, we’re going to come to that bridge. In my opinion, I think it needs to be supported by our coaching staff. Right now, I don’t think they’re in favor of something like that so we really haven’t even thought about it.”

What does the

future hold?

But that’s not to say they won’t be thinking about it in a year from now, or two. Leuer admits that eventually the program will most likely be faced with the issue. She also admits that anything can happen.

“If we end up with budget cuts, where programs need to be eliminated, we’ll need something to fill that void,” remarked Leuer. “But, we want to keep our school program. I think everyone is on the same page right now and that’s important when dealing with something like this.”

What’s the solution?

While it’s not priority number one, Leuer has thought about some of the solutions that need to be set in motion, when and if the Vikings are presented with this controversial issue.

To her, it’s simple. Like in Forest Lake, putting the ball in the hands of the coaches seems to be the popular choice.

“I think what makes the success or failure of a league anywhere, whether it’s within the school system or in the community, is the quality of the coaching staff,” said Leuer. “You have to trust your coaches. Our coaches do a great job with the kids and I think for the most part, everyone is happy with the direction things are going.”

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