RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s a big weekend for athletes from age six to 75. Over 1,300 of them are filling Rantoul’s new sports complex for two big events. Teams are competing in the Midwest Youth Football Classic and National Softball Association’s Senior Tournament.
Some are traveling from as far as Texas for the chance to play here in Champaign County. 55 teams showed up for football alone, and Visit Champaign County said many came from states like Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and more.
“So there’s two good reasons to play in this tournament. Because the top three in each age group – they move on to Pittsburgh next year,” Mid-State Seniors left fielder Richard Carlson said.
On one side of the park, 14 teams of adults over 40 competed for spots in the next National Senior Olympics. Nearby, over 50 teams of kids up to 13 played for championship football titles. But they all shared the same goal – to have a good time and win.
“It’s been a great experience for me and our boys, so we’ll come back next year,” Indy Broncos head coach Quinnthony Sample said.
The Indy Broncos were one of many youth teams that traveled from out of state. Rank Up Midwest Classic Tournament Director Frank Bermudez said bringing them all together is the fun part of his job, and watching how the kids look up to each other.
“A lot of times, I have families after these events that next thing you know, a kid from Chicago is going to a camp in Indianapolis and he’s going to stay with a kid that he met here at the tournament. It’s just fun for kids to have that experience and that opportunity to do that,” he said.
It’s the first time the tournament was held in Rantoul, but he’s already hoping to use all the fields in the complex next year. And the players say they’re excited to come back – but not without a win.
“If we win this game, we’re going to get those rings and go back home,” one Broncos player said.
The games will continue Sunday. Visit Champaign County estimates an economic impact of over $1 million to the area this weekend.