The crunch of the pads. The dew on the grass. The sound of the whistle.
Football and all its trappings are almost here in Faribault.
Opportunities abound for football players grades 2 and up.
Faribault players get an intro to the game with flag football, which is reserved for grades 2 and 3.
The program meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at Jefferson Park. A coaches meeting is 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Community Center. The first practice is 6 p.m. Sept. 10.
Players graduate from flag football to tackle starting in fourth grade.
Grades 4-6 are eligible for Cub football. Training camp is Aug. 12-14 and practice starts the following week. All practices are at the high school practice field.
Cub football players play in the Southern Minnesota Youth Football League. The league includes teams from Alden-Conger, Bethlehem Academy, Blooming Prairie, Byron, Cannon Falls, Grand Meadow, Hayfield, Kasson-Mantorville, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Kingsland, Le Sueur-Henderson, Randolph, Tri-City United, Waseca and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
Faribault joined the league in recent years.
“I was a little hesitant at first,” said David Pribbenow with Faribault Parks and Recreation,” because traveling has had the connotation as elitist. But they have a really good philosophy of safety and learning.”
Without other communities to play, it would be difficult to stick to a strictly in-house league more prevalent in Twin Cities metro communities.
At least one Faribault team will be made per grade level.
The league coordinates with the Trusted Coaches program, which dedicates to educating coaches on best practices as well as screens coaches. Pribbenow compared it to the coaches program through USA Football.
Kyle Murphy heads up player safety with Faribault football. He and other coaches help teach correct blocking and tackling as well as making sure equipment fits properly.
Volunteer coaches are still needed to coach across all youth levels. One park to coaching is his or her kid plays for free.
Prior to the season, some players participated in the Building a Football Player summer camp.
This was for grades 5-8 and led by Kevin and Alexis Palacios of CEPA Boxing Club. This camp was formerly the football agility camp.
“He’s coached youth football for me for several years and started (this camp) last year,” Pribbenow said. “It’s a non-contact program that works on conditioning, footwork, attitude, things like that. Kevin’s got a really grasp on that.”
Pribbenow estimated between 12-15 participated in 2018 and over 20 in 2019.
Faribault Football Association there to help
Helping players and football in Faribault as a whole is the Faribault Football Association.
Every third Friday of July, the FFA hosts a golf fundraiser tournament.
“We started it 13 years ago because the school needed a new blocking sled and didn’t have it in their budget to buy one that year,” said Andy Louis with the FFA. “So eight or nine of us thought to put together a golf tournament to help buy one.”
The blocking sled is just the start of where the FFA’s fundraising has gone to in the last decade-plus.
Both the middle school and high school have received sleds. An end zone camera for the varsity team was purchased. As were wireless headsets for coaches, new middle school jerseys, bus transportation for football summer camps and expenses for the varsity year-end banquets.
“We don’t want any kid to not play because of money,” Louis said of another destination of funds raised. “We’ve set up kids with full uniforms, helmet and everything.”
The FFA also helps run the chains at ninth grade and JV games and runs the scoreboard for youth games on Saturdays.
Community Football Night
A night to celebrate football in Faribault will be Sept. 5 for Community Football Night.
The Faribault High School football team will wrap up practice at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Afterward, the high-schoolers will stick around to help out with and watch middle school scrimmages between Faribault and visiting schools.
Families and players of all ages are encouraged to attend the event, which will feature a cookout.
“There’s a lot of passion for football in Faribault,” said FHS varsity head coach Ned Louis. “We feel we offer a great program with flag football, to Cub football to middle school football and in high school. We hope kids have fun at an early age. It’s a great opportunity starting at a young age. A lot of communities don’t start organized football until seventh grade.”