ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – On a warm summer night, a group of football players from varying backgrounds gather to prepare for a game. Most of these men played in college and can’t get football out of their system. In fact, they don’t want to.
Guillame Paek played for Minneapolis Patrick Henry in high school, and the love of the game has never wavered.
“Essentially it makes me feel like a kid. There’s no other place where I can go out and I can act like 15 or 14 year old,” said Paek.
Isaac Odim was a star at Minnesota Duluth, and now he’s a star for the Pioneers. He never wanted to leave the football arena.
“Really, I just wanted to keep playing football…I played for the Rochester Giants once a few years ago, so I kinda knew what the deal was. As soon as I have a summer off, I just searched online for a team in the area, and I ended up here,” said Odim.
There’s no pay to be a Pioneer – just sacrifice for players and coaches. Pioneer Head Coach Mark Heiser says it’s a labor of love, and then some.
“Boy, it’s hectic for me…I serve on the board too, so I’m doing all the background work, and trying to raise money, and then trying to keep all the guys together, and trying to organize practices and get game fields and all this stuff. There’s a lot of background stuff that really goes into it, you know, to put the product on the field on a game day,” said Heiser.
But it scratches an itch that cannot be simulated any other way. To be on a football team is akin to feeling young, engaged and alive.
“We live for the games. People work hard on the off-season, and days that we’re not practices they’re in the weight room; they’re running, doing their conditioning. We’re working hard here at practice, but we live for the games,” said Odim.
There is no shortage of interest for the participants. And the sport can make you forget about life for a few hours.
“They have a lot of fun playing. Guys take a lot of passion in the game of football. It’s competitive, and its good football and they have a lot of fun with it,” said Heiser.
As the sun sets on phases of life, you come to terms that youth can only be served so long, so why not prolong it as long as you can.
“I think at this point in my life, being 34, it’s one of those things where you can’t do it forever, and once it’s done – it’s done,” said Paek.