Soccer: 45 youth teams from Minnesota and North Dakota compete in Detroit Lakes tournaments

Nine Detroit Lakes youth soccer teams came to the Detroit Lakes Rotary soccer fields over the weekend to compete in two-day tournaments. Tournament director Ben Aastuen spoke about the importance of summer league for the growth of young players.

DL U19 Celebration.jpeg
The Detroit Lakes U19 soccer team celebrates its Roatry Tournament championship on July 9, 2022 at the Detroit Lakes Rotary soccer fields.
Contributed / Courtney Tracy

DETROIT LAKES – Soccer players from Minnesota and North Dakota congregated in Detroit Lakes over the weekend for a massive slate of youth tournaments.

Hundreds of people lined the sidelines at the Detroit Lakes Rotary soccer fields to watch local and traveling teams compete in a two-day soccer extravaganza. The tournaments were hosted by the Detroit Lakes Youth Soccer Association, a local youth sports program for kids of all ages.

“We had 45 teams of kids anywhere from 8-18 years old,” tournament director Ben Aastuen said. “It was super fun to have all of the teams come out. It was a two-day tournament that started on Friday afternoon that went through all day on Saturday. It brings so many people to the community. There were parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins–everybody. So many people came from all over the place to be at this tournament. It was fun to look down the sidelines and see them packed two rows deep.”

Two Detroit Lakes teams captured first-place finishes. The U12 boys beat Fargo 5-3, while the U19 boys beat ISC Fargo 1-0. Detroit Lakes had nine teams in total compete throughout the weekend.

The Detroit Lakes U12 team posed after winning the Rotary Tournament in Detroit Lakeson July 9, 2022.
Contributed / Coutrney Tracy

Most kids stay near the fields between games. It’s a chance for the younger players to watch the high school-level kids compete up close and in person.


“I coach the U12 girls in the summer, and there was one point where there were five of them sitting and watching the U19 boys play,” Aastuen said. “They were saying stuff like, ‘Wow, they can kick really far,’ or ‘Look how far they can throw.’ It’s awesome to show younger players that higher level. It gets them excited to stick with it so they can grow up to kick it as far as the older kids can.”

Last Fall, Detroit Lakes boys head soccer coach, Justin Wegleitner, finished his 25th year at the helm. He was instrumental in kick-starting soccer in Detroit Lakes. Now, two and a half decades later, the community is a summer soccer hub.

“I’ve heard Justin Wegleitner and Dave Carter tell stories. To think there was zero soccer here 25 years ago is crazy when you see how big it is now,” Aastuen said. “One thing we’ve really been working on is making Detroit Lakes soccer really competitive. We want to have fun and get kids excited. Now that we have all of these kids let’s get competitive. I think that’s where soccer is going in our community after how far it’s come in 25 years.”

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Youth soccer players from DLYSA welcomes teams from around Minnesota and North Dakota to the Rotary Tournament in Detroit Lakes July 8-9. Teams participated in a two-day tournament at the Detroit Lakes Rotary soccer fields.
Contributed / Courtney Tracy

Aastuen is gearing up for another Detroit Lakes girls soccer season this coming fall. After a good run in 2021, he’s hoping a decent-sized core of returning players can help take the program another step forward.

For that to happen, Aastuen hopes current and future Lakers use summer soccer programs as a necessary tool to develop.

“(Summer soccer) does incredible things,” Aastuen said. “To become a great soccer player, you have to touch a soccer ball with your foot constantly. You also need to run. What the summer soccer program is doing is allowing kids to do that. Just the skills they get from the coaches we have too are so important…All of those things we teach them in the fall get hammered back in during the summer.”

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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