MARYSVILLE – Tyler Blankenburg should give the Seattle Mariners some tips.
He has been able to build a championship-caliber team in just three years.
To be fair, Blankenburg does coach a different sport. And his players are just 11 years old.
Blankenburg coaches the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawk Junior White football team. They just won the Northwest Regional Championship and will be traveling to the National Youth Tournament in Canton, Ohio, Dec. 12-16.
That city is synonymous with football, being home to the Hall of Fame. The local team will play on the HOF field. If they make it to the title game, they would appear on national TV.
“We don’t want to pass up this opportunity,” the coach said Wednesday.
There’s one big problem – money. Going there won’t be cheap, and since they just qualified there has been no time to do fundraisers.
So a GoFundMe account has been set up for the 30 boys and five coaches. The goal is $30,000 to pay for airfare, hotel, rental vans and food.
“We’re trying to take some of the burden off of parents near Christmastime,” Blankenburg said. “We didn’t find out until last week. This is the first time a team from Marysville has gone to Canton.”
He added the “parents are doing their best to pony up” the funds, but the hope is some of that money can be reimbursed through GoFundMe donations.
Of course, the team wants to see the HOF while they are there.
“They definitely want to see it,” he said of the boys. “How can you go to Ohio and not go to the Hall of Fame?”
As for his team’s success, Blankenburg said it all came together this year after working with the same kids since they were 8.
“It’s a team-building process,” he said. “They play really well together, after taking a couple of years to figure it out.”
Consistency is important, he added. They’ve been in the same system for three years.
“They know each other and execute well. They came together as a family,” he said.