Football stars thrive in Elite League
“I just love playing sports. You have just this high level of competition … and I love to compete." MSP Magazine forward Kam Kaiser, a star running back for Northfield High’s football team (he scored a combined six touchdowns in two early season games), said about the Upper Midwest High School Elite League.
“It's kind of routine … every Friday play a football game and then go play hockey the next day,” said Sit Mutual Funds forward Mason West, the sophomore starting quarterback for the Edina football team and one of the state leaders in completions. “I love it, it’s so fun.”
West, Kaiser and the rest of the football players pulling double duty this fall are, in a way, fulfilling the league’s mission. The Elite League was founded in 2002 to provide the region’s top players with an opportunity to play with and against top competition, while maintaining their eligibility to play high school hockey in their respective communities. And, of course, play multiple sports.
“People forget that this league was created so kids could stay home, be a part of their high school and do other sports,” MSP Magazine coach Chris McAlpine said. “I think it helps these kids when they are playing all different kinds of sports.”
Joining West and Kaiser as Elite Leaguers also starring as football players this fall are Sit Mutual Funds’ Will Seymour (New Prague quarterback) and Tyler Smith (Chanhassen defensive back), Sanford Power’s Cole Bies (East Grand Forks linebacker) and Kade Stengrim (Brainerd receiver/defensive back), The Base’s River Freeman (Hermantown halfback/linebacker) and MAP South’s Jackson Reeves (Hill-Murray quarterback).
These players are shining examples top athletes of making the most of the high school experience.
Both West and Kaiser said they know all about Anders Lee, a former Elite League standout who excelled in football, hockey and baseball at Edina and now serves as captain of the NHL’s New York Islanders.
McAlpine also noted that the ability to play multiple sports creates memories that will last a lifetime: "You get one chance to be a high schooler, and it’s great these players are taking advantage of it."