Youth football is alive and well in Mountlake Terrace, and has been for many years thanks to the dedication of many supporters and parents and especially two very dedicated Mountlake Terrace residents. Whether the community realizes it or not, Mountlake Terrace is actually a hotbed for youth football in the area, with one of the oldest, and currently largest, youth football programs in the county.
Mountlake Terrace Youth Athletic Association (MTYAA) was formed in 1972 to provide organized youth activity in soccer and baseball. While football existed at that time, it was under the South County Football League, which was comprised mostly of the Snohomish county areas of Brier, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds and Lynnwood. Teams that played in this league primarily came from these areas. While the league continued successfully for years, it was not without disarray organizationally, and with very little of the needed equipment for proper play and safety, so its potential and success was never fully realized until 1998.
In 1998, Kelly Dougan and Bill Taylor entered the scene. Long time childhood friends, the two desired to share their own positive experiences in youth sports that they had as kids, and found the South County Football League. Both men joined the league as coaches for the Junior division that year, and by 2000, Kelly was managing the league. Kelly’s first goal was to make the league into something manageable, safe, and fun for all the kids, as well as grow it into a competitive and positive organization for youth in the community. Kelly, in his new role, started by joining the football portion of local youth sports with the very successful MTYAA, which at that time, was very solid in the community through baseball. This union provided a solid foundation and respected name for the league, as well as a non-profit status. Thus, the MTYAA Trojans were born.
Kelly and Bill’s philosophy in building the league was to do it right: build the teams with quality coaches that would provide a positive experience at all levels of play. As such, the league grew slowly, as Kelly says “If I didn’t feel like I had a good strong coaching staff, I wouldn’t start a new team”. When they started, there were only three teams, where today, there are eight in just the MTYAA organization alone. The teams went from disorganized to highly organized with quality equipment and practice gear. Gone were the early days of all different colored uniforms and sub-standard equipment.
The next few years brought positive change to the league as Kelly and Bill’s leadership and philosophy garnered respect around the area. Soon, the Edmonds Cyclones and Stanwood Spartans organizations joined the league, and together, created what is now the WESCO Junior Football league, which is loosely based on the High School league of sports in our area. The MTYAA organization then released the Meadowdale and Lynnwood areas of their coverage to allow for the growth of more teams under the WESCO umbrella. Over the last few years, WESCO has grown to twelve team organizations in four age divisions, covering Stanwood, Snohomish, Marysville, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Meadowdale and of course Mountlake Terrace. As of 2010, the league has also added Glacier Peak and Cedar Park.
MTYAA represents the largest organization in the WESCO league with two teams on each of four playing levels. Each level of play has a RED team and a WHITE team, where the White team represents the major area of Edmonds that is still a part of MTYAA, and the red is Mountlake Terrace proper. Peewees, are the youngest of the players representing the 5 to 7 year olds. 89ers, take the next age group at 8-9, and Juniors the 10-11 year olds. The Seniors fill in on the remaining age group right before the kids enter high school, and is widely considered the premier level of play as it feeds into the Mountlake Terrace High School football organization. With all those teams, still more than 75% of the kids on MTYAA Football teams reside in Mountlake Terrace. The WESCO league does not discriminate on locale, allowing kids in different areas of the league to play on any team they wish. Despite that freedom for local players, MTYAA has maintained the greatest number of players even above the larger area of Lynnwood.
In recent years, many MTYAA Football alum have had successful years at the High School and even college level of football proving MTYAA as a successful developmental football organization for young athletes.
When asked why Kelly has devoted so many years to MTYAA, he states very simply, yet with a sparkle in his eye, “(it’s the) satisfaction of watching the kids grow and learn.” To him, it seems, it’s his chance to give back what he and Bill got from their childhood coaches: a positive experience that allowed them to learn the spirit of competition, the payoff of hard work, and physical activity in a structured team sport.
While the season may be halfway over, there is still time to support our community Trojan teams in the regular season, and, hopefully, into the playoff season. All age levels are having fantastic seasons thus far, and it should be a great post-season. Information on all games, information about camps and joining, and photos, can be found on the league’s official website: http://www.mtyaajrfootball.com, and on Facebook (MTYAA Jr. Football).
Photo Copyright Mark Hopkins – Used with permission