Minnesota Youth League Earns Gold Level Status in USA Football Program

By Jacob Letourneau | Posted 10/7/2021

The Junior Wolfpack Football Association in Cottage Grove, Minn., located in the Twin Cities area, has earned Gold Level status through USA Football’s League Excellence Program (LEP) for the 2021 season.

The USA Football program is a way for youth football organizations to earn recognition for a commitment to raise operational standards and provide a great environment for athletes and their families.

The Junior Wolfpack is a leader in setting winning standards for kids across grades 1 to 8. Through the leadership of its board, previous president Dan Smoot, and current president Brad Pederson, the association has maintained or grown participation numbers each year dating back to 2013 with 400 youth athletes taking part in the Junior Wolfpack this season.

The organization is at the forefront of promoting limited contact play as an option to help its kids develop skills and have fun. The Junior Wolfpack recently began playing Limited Rookie Contact using TackleBar™ harnesses. The game type is a form of limited contact that allows kids to practice the fundamentals of tackling without going to the ground.

“We were one of the first to bring TackleBar into Minnesota,” Pederson said. “We have put systems in place for our kids so that the progression is consistent and benefits the kids in the long run.”

The association emphasizes player development, however, being a member of the Junior Wolfpack is more than experiencing the fun of football.

Cottage Grove Jr. Wolfpack
“Obviously, as coaches we are competitive and want to win, but our biggest goal is to develop our players into great young men and women. If we’ve done that, then we did our job as coaches,” Pederson said.

And the culture doesn’t stop there. The Junior Wolfpack also has a great relationship with its local high school. This relationship has led to high school players coming to the younger kids’ practices and helping on the field, making a strong and positive culture even better.

The Junior Wolfpack has created a community that doesn’t see football just as a game, but a chance for kids to grow in all facets of life, as well as an opportunity to gather, build friendships, and play a sport they love.



Trusting another set of adults with your child takes a leap of faith. USA Football’s League Finder helps parents find leagues nearby that are working hard to improve the athlete experience.

Find a league near you that puts athletes first.