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Pee Wee soccer instills skills as it brings families together

FORT KENT, Maine — Children in Fort Kent are learning soccer skills and sportsmanship at an early age while their families come together for weekend bonding during the Fort Kent Recreation Department Pee Wee Soccer League.

The league consists of ten teams made up of 127 children from pre-kindergarten to second grade, all of whom are guided by volunteer coaches. The kids meet for an hour each Saturday at Jalbert Park, the first half-hour of which, the coaches teach them fundamental soccer skills. During the second half-hour, the children execute those skills by competing in matches with other teams in the league.

Members of the Eagles of the Fort Kent Recreation Department Pee Wee Soccer league display their team spirit before a game on Saturday, Sept. 29. (Jessica Potila)

“It provides children with physical activity, and this particular program really, really generates an awful lot of future varsity players,” said Fort Kent Parks and Rec Director Ann Beaulieu. “It’s often a child’s first introduction to sportsmanship, teamwork, sharing and cooperation. There’s only one ball and 14 kids out there (on the field) so they quickly learn to share, pass the ball, and play together for a desired outcome and if they want a goal they have to make it happen as a team, all together.”

Beaulieu pointed out that, along with the well over one hundred youngsters who participate in the program, there are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings, who also show up on Saturdays during Pee Wee season to cheer on the budding athletes.

“It really becomes a family social event; that’s what it does for these families,” Beaulieu said.  

Louise Harvey, maternal grandmother of Logan and Ethan Thibodeau said that watching her grandsons play Pee Wee soccer is part of her weekly routine.

“I love it. When my kids played, I never missed a game, whether home or away. I enjoy the sport and look forward to coming each Saturday,” she said.

Logan, 7, and Ethan, 5, also enjoy Pee Wee Soccer Saturdays, according to their mother, Danielle Thibodeau.

“They love it. They look forward to it every weekend,” Danielle Thibodeau said. “It’s a great program. It’s great for our kids to have this opportunity to play, especially at a young age, to start learning the sport. I hope it stays around for a long time.”

Both boys are on team Eagles, which Scott Pelletier coaches.

“He’s doing a great job teaching them skills, teaching the game rather than just running around,” Danielle Thibodeau said.

Pelletier also is the Wisdom High School boys soccer coach, and has been coaching the sport for 17 years.  

In Pee Wee soccer, he and the other volunteer coaches take on a multi-faceted role as teacher, cheerleader and occasional tier of shoelaces on the field.

“It’s a lot of fun to coach little kids. I hope they have fun and enjoy it,” Pelletier said.

On Saturday, Maddie Granatowski, 4, seemed to enjoy playing on team Eagles.

Maddie’s mother, Pamela Bouchard attends every game with Maddie’s younger sister Scarlett, and is also a fan of Pelletier’s coaching style.

“He is real good with the kids, from the importance of stretching to the foundations to explaining why they do things in the sport, and is full of praise,” Bouchard said.

Although she may be learning some fundamental soccer skills along the way, Maddie enjoys participating in Pee Wee soccer for the most fundamental reason of all.

“I like running with my friends,” she said.

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