Local group sponsoring Madden NFL event

WORTHINGTON -- With a hint of spring in the air, people are thinking about track and tennis and tuning in to baseball games. But for those involved in the Youth Leadership for Vital Communities (YLVC) group, everything is about football this week...

WORTHINGTON -- With a hint of spring in the air, people are thinking about track and tennis and tuning in to baseball games.

But for those involved in the Youth Leadership for Vital Communities (YLVC) group, everything is about football this week -- Madden football, that is.

The YLVC is hosting a Madden NFL Tournament Saturday, with all proceeds from the video game event going to the Worthington YMCA.

The YLVC consists of high school students and adults who work together on service projects.

"It teaches the students how to take charge of things and get things done," said Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey. "In the first three years, there was a ton of training for kids on how to become leaders."


The group started as a grant from Minnesota Extension in 2001. A similar year-long program was just ending when the group was approached by someone from the extension office who was looking for candidates for a new project.

Since the YLVC formed, it has completed several large projects, such as a "Who is Worthington?" video and End Racism buttons. The group works at the International Festival and the Children's Fair.

"This year we were looking for something, and the students came up with the idea of a video game type thing," Cumiskey said.

Anthony Kellen, a junior at Worthington High School, said when the thought first came up, it exploded into a big idea.

"The theater had just closed, and we were looking for something that kids could do," Kellen said. "To be honest, there are a lot of kids in our group, me included, that are big Madden fans."

Because it is a video game, anyone can play, Kellen added.

Before they chose which video game to play, they tossed around a few ideas, such as Guitar Hero, Halo 3 or Dance, Dance Revolution. They decided against Halo because of the violence. One of the deciding factors was the availability of the Madden game.

Coming up with 16 Play Station 2 consoles was a challenge, as was getting the games and the TVs. The group is getting systems and games from video stores in town, from students and from Max 493, and the TVs are coming from the school and from group members.


There were plenty of other hurdles to jump through to get the tournament up and running.

"One challenge was that it got so big so fast," Kellen stated. "Right now it is a little hectic, and we are down to crunch time."

The group has been planning the event since October and has had to make decisions that ranged from entry fees to background music.

"It has been a monumental task, but a very good learning experience for all of us," Cumiskey admitted. "Everyone has really been sharing the weight of getting things done."

One of the things they had to decide was what to with the funds raised.

"The kids said, 'What about the Y?'" Cumiskey said. "I talked to (YMCA Executive Director) Andy Johnson, who said it sounded like a good idea."

Because this is the first event of this kind the YLVC has organized, there are still a lot of unknowns, Cumiskey said, but the group would like to see it become an annual event.

"If all goes well, maybe next year we could do it during Super Bowl," Kellen stated.


The students who play the video game regularly helped decide the rules of the tournaments, such as how long the quarters of the game will be. It was decided to have three-minute quarters, which would make each game last approximately a half hour.

There is a fee to enter the tournament, which varies by age group and whether the player signed up in advance. For those who just want to watch, a small fee will get them in the door and make them eligible for door prizes.

"The community has really come forward," Cumiskey said, gesturing toward the boxes on his office floor. "As door prizes, we have basketballs, soccer balls, coupons and certificates for food, car washes, 12-packs of pop and more."

"Once we got started, the sponsors helped us out a ton," Kellen added.

Anyone interested can register in advance by contacting the Worthington Police Department at 372-2136 or registering at the door at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Worthington High School Gym. The tournament is open to people of all ages.

"I'd love to see one of my teachers come out," Kellen said.

There will be concessions available, plenty of door prizes, a prize for the best dressed-up fan and a $100 prize for the first place winner of the tournament.

For now, Cumiskey joked, his goal is to survive the week and the tournament.


"I really just want it to be a success," he said. "I want the YLVC kids to be able to say, 'Wow, can you believe what we just did.'"

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