The Brooklyn Park Pirates rolled into Illinois and Indiana this weekend for the Monsters of the Midwest Tournament.
"To tell their friends back home they are going to Chicago to play football, that was a dream come true for them," said John Green, who has two kids on the Pirates.
Passionate Pirate fans flocked to the heartland, to see how Brooklyn Park would fare against the top eight-year old teams in the region.
"It was a lot of fun," said Levi Audette, a Pirates player.
There was certainly plenty to cheer as the Pirates dug in against the competition.
"It says a lot just about the overall program at Brooklyn Park," Green said.
For the kids and parents this was a special snapshot in time.
"My favorite memory was probably staying at the hotel, playing in the pool and sitting in the hot tub," said Preston Nelson, who plays for the Pirates. "I got to play with all my friends."
There were countless highlights from the games and the road trip.
"We went swimming in the hotel," said the Pirates' Jusu Kromah.
"We were in a hotel," said Pirates coach Adam Audette. "We were in a different city. We got to travel together. We had dinners together. We got to play in the pool together."
"I'm just happy that we didn't burn down the hotel," joked Green.
The journey was a unique chance to build team chemistry and forge lasting friendships.
"The cost was actually marginable to what the kids actually learned," Green said, "and the confidence they received in playing football."
The Pirates lost a couple close games on Saturday, but finished with a flurry on Sunday as they galloped by the Chicago Broncos.
"We came in and hit 'em hard," Audette said. "They weren't expecting the way we were gonna play. We ran over the top of 'em."
When the Pirates left Indiana on Sunday they had many positive takeaways from the trip. One of them was proving that they could play with the top teams in the Midwest.
Eric Nelson, reporting
November 13, 2017