Eagan High football looks to the future

     Eagan High School football has developed a long-term strategy to bolster its program, in part by appealing to younger players and their parents.
     At a meeting with parents of children in youth sports, Eagan High football coach Benjamin Hanson stressed the need to introduce and develop young players, with particular emphasis on safety. Hanson discussed the program’s concussion protocols in an effort to address one of the major obstacles to recruiting young players—parental concerns about concussions and other injuries.
     Eagan’s program has experienced a dichotomy. While some Eagan alums have managed to reach the NFL, Eagan High is the only 6A school in the state never to appear in the state tournament. Hanson is hoping to change that by building a stronger program, with more prospects in the pipeline.
     “To be competitive in high school, we need to start at the youth level,” Hanson said.
     The high school football program is working with the Eagan Athletic Association to connect with younger players and their parents. Last year, youth football teams were featured during a half-time presentation at a high school game, where they were introduced and allowed to run on the field.
     Hanson told parents there could be other opportunities to introduce young players to the Friday night games, such as offering free admission and allowing young players to serve as water boys.
     Hanson, like coaches across the country, is facing competition for players from other sports – particularly those perceived as safer for athletes. To help address parents’ concerns about concussions, Hanson passed around one of the new football helmets, which contain substantially more padding than the old.
     Another obstacle to building a strong program is cash. Most of the program’s budget comes from fundraising and booster club activities. There, too, the program hopes to involve parents of younger players.
     Eagan Football will be hosting a youth camp for players in grades 3-8 from June 26-29. Further information is available at www.eaganfootball.com.