First ever Madden tournament well attended

Normally, a group of 50 kids playing games would cause a bit of noise, but those entering the Worthington High School Gym Saturday found the noise level not only acceptable, but remarkable as well.

Normally, a group of 50 kids playing games would cause a bit of noise, but those entering the Worthington High School Gym Saturday found the noise level not only acceptable, but remarkable as well.

"They are just really intent on what they are doing in there," said Worthington Police Officer Bob Fritz with a laugh.

Fritz was handling the concession stand during the first-ever Madden Playstation 2 tournament, sponsored by the Youth Leadership for Vital Communities (YLVC) group. The event was a fundraiser for the new YMCA.

Forty-eight students of various ages registered for the tournament, which began at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. While Fritz handed out slices of pizza and bottles of pop, Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey manned the brackets. Student members of the YLVC announced upcoming matches and kept things running smoothly.

After months of planning, the YLVC members, both student and adult, were relieved at how well attended the event was.


"It turned out way better than we thought," said Anthony Kellen, a junior at Worthington High School who was heavily involved in the planning of the event. "Everyone I've talked to wants this to be an annual event."

Inside the gym were 14 TVs, Playstation consoles and games, most of which came from the YLVC members or the school. In front of each station were a few chairs where the two players and observers could keep a close eye on the action.

"I'm just here to observe," said Mitchell Shreiner, a fifth-grade student from St. Mary's who was there with a couple of friends. "I've never played, except for at a friend's house, but it is fun to watch."

Shreiner was especially looking forward to his two friends going head to head in an upcoming match.

Tanner Rogers and Dan Wetering, both eighth-graders at the Worthington Middle School, were a little disappointed to lose in the first round, but were looking forward to playing again in the consolation bracket. Wetering ended up taking first place on that bracket.

Wetering has the game at home, but Rogers contents himself with playing the game at friends' houses.

"They haven't done anything like this before ever," Rogers said, looking around the gym. "It is cool that they are doing it to raise money for the YMCA."

"It's also a cool way to hang out with friends," Wetering added. "And for a good cause."


When asked if the players were handicapped to level the playing field, Wetering laughed.

"No, if (your opponent) plays more and is better, they will beat you," he explained.

Both teens said their favorite part of the event was all the door prizes and having the chance to play against real opponents, rather than against a computer.

Each game lasted 25 minutes to a half hour, which didn't faze Annie Ektnitphong, who was there to watch her fifth-grade son Troy play. Troy's sisters Vickie and Nicole were also there to watch. Neither of them were Madden players, but both had a suggestion for a different kind of video game tournament.

"Guitar Hero," they said.

"They are experts at that," Annie added with a smile.

One has to wonder what that would do to the noise level.

While they watched Troy play, the Ektnitphong ladies visited with people and watched the other games by players they knew.


In the end, Kellen faced and defeated fourth-grader Blake Schroeder to win the tournament. In the consolation bracket, Wetering took first place, while Jacob Dagel took second. Jared Kinley was named as best-dressed fan.

"I'm impressed with the way the kids came together to pull this off," Fritz said of the YLVC group. "It took a lot of planning, and they did a great job talking to area businesses to get door prizes."

Fritz, Cumiskey and Leticia Rodriguez, the three adult advisors of the YLVC group, were all pleased at how the members worked together to organize the tournament.

"It is amazing how they have come together," Fritz stated. "We are just here to guide them and point them toward resources in the community."

Although the kids were there to play Madden, most of them took the time to stop and visit with YMCA board member Pete Suby, who was on hand with a display of what the future YMCA will look like.

"We are hoping to break ground this year," Suby said, pointing out the highlights of the facility. "It is very exciting."

Of the YLVC choosing the YMCA as a fundraising target, Suby was pleased.

"It is wonderful of them," he said. "We can use all the help we can get."

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