When I asked Coach Ward Kaiser, of Silver Bay, how the season is going for the junior varsity Mariner Football team he said, “We’re 2-0 so far and playing decent football.” And the play-ers? “Very coachable. They’re dedicated and ex-cited. Parents are excited, too.”
Coach Kaiser had been the Mariner’s varsity football coach for quite a while. After growing up in Silver Bay and playing football for the Mariners, he went to the University of Minnesota Duluth for coaching and education. He taught for 10 years after his college graduation before he was offered a job to come back to Silver Bay 18 years ago. After a couple of years as an assistant, he became head coach for the varsity team.
Last year, the Mariner’s team combined with Two Harbors on a two-year contract. In Silver Bay, classes were coming through without many football players. This can happen in small com-munities and the local teams have all helped each other to make programs happen. The main goal of all involved is to give those who want to play football the opportunity to do so.
Five Silver Bay players, grades 10-12, have been playing for the Agates including a starting quarterback, a starting running back, and a starting lineman. One has moved to Two Harbors high school full time. “Our guys are making a big impact down there.”
Two Harbors Coach Tom Nelson and Coach Kaiser are good friends. When the need came to combine the teams, Coach Nelson offered Coach Kaiser and his assistant coach to join the Agates coaching staff. The decision was made that Coach Kaiser and his assistant coach would remain in Silver Bay and build up the junior varsity players.
The partnership has been a blessing. “Two Harbors has been very gracious,” Coach Kaiser said. “We’re on the same page and they understand what we are trying to do.”
The goal has always been to build a varsity team back up. “The community wants football here, too,” Coach Kaiser pointed out. “I think every community should have their sports teams.”
The reason for the two-year contract, as op-posed to yearly, is due to the need for classifying teams and making schedules. As this is the second year, Coach Kaiser believes that there is a strong possibility of bringing varsity football back to Silver Bay. “It would be a young varsity team, but we’ve done that before.”
Factors into this possibility include the fact that some players were unable to make the practices in Two Harbors due to the distance. “It gets to be a lot,” said Coach Kaiser. Bringing the team back to Silver Bay would allow those players to potentially return. “It would be beneficial to have it here so more kids can play, and distance isn’t an issue.”
With all the adjustments to maintain football programs in the small communities that surround our area, at least one thing remains the same for Coach Kaiser. He loves coaching. “I like the enthusiasm that the kids have. I like to be able to help them challenge themselves and achieve something they didn’t know they could or something to take pride in. Hopefully we’re able to help guide them to be good people, not just good football players.” He added that these kids are already on the right track due to good parenting, community members, and teachers. All the support leads to strong players and strong people. “It’s fun to be part of the whole thing,” Coach Kaiser said.
Keep up the good work, Mariner Football players, coaching staff, parents, and fans! We’re rooting you on and can’t wait to continue to watch you grow your skills and team!
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