Lanesborough Tigers coach Jason Pause, middle, poses with the team's captains, from left, Mitch Waynick, Damon Pause, Aiden Macpherseon, Judge Martin and Dominic Carnevale.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The life of a young athlete can get pretty hectic, especially when his or her team is so good that the season never seems to end.
When the Lanesborough Tigers two weeks ago wrapped up a Northeast Regional football championship on Saturday in New Jersey, some of the players had no time to enjoy their triumph.
"Basketball travel team tryouts were that Monday," Tigers coach Jason Pause recalled this week. "Some of the kids have a basketball game on Saturday this week."
And somewhere in between juggling football practice, basketball games and schoolwork, the 20 boys and one girl on Pause's team need to make some time to pack for next week's trip to the World Youth Football Championships in Canton, Ohio.
Last month's 26-6 win over Essex County, N.J., qualified the Berkshire County champions to face some of the top teams in the country in their age group at the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It will be the crowning achievement for a group that has gotten used to wearing crowns over the years.
"This team has been pretty much together since 2015," said Pause, who started as an assistant coach with the youth football program in 2013 and has been a head coach the last five seasons. "They've all pretty much been playing since second grade.
"In 2017, we won the [Berkshire County] Super Bowl, when we went 9-0. As Pee-Wees, we went undefeated, and I don't think anyone scored on us. This team only let up like two touchdowns in the three years we've been together. In New Jersey, it was 26-6, but they scored in the final minute. It definitely wasn't against the first squad."
Pause does not know what to expect in Ohio. He likely will not even know the team's first opponent before he checks in at the site on Wednesday.
But even if he did know who the Tigers are playing, he probably would not have had much time to do any scouting. He is too busy making plans for the trip and fund-raising to make it happen.
"For the duration [of the tournament], I think we budgeted $12,000 to stay with the whole team until Sunday," Pause said. "If we just want to cover the cost of hotel rooms, I think we're about 75 percent of the way there."
Almost immediately the win at the regional championship, the team set up a Gofundme page to collect donations for the trip. Pause and parent Carol Newberry subsequently sent a letter to area businesses to seek support.
The team had considered chartering a bus for the nine-hour drive to Canton, but the cost was prohibitive.
"Now we're trying to make sure everyone has a ride because some of the parents can't make it that night or that day," Pause said. "We're trying to figure out who has extra room in their cars.
"Registration is 9 to 5 on Wednesday, the 11th. We'll probably leave very early Wednesday morning, like 3 a.m."
The team is guaranteed at least two games in Ohio. It will play its opener on Thursday at a time to be announced. If it loses, it will play a consolation game on Friday. If it wins — and keeps winning — it would go all the way to Sunday's title game.
Except for one Pittsfield resident and one Dalton resident, most of the players attend middle school at Mount Greylock, which, ironically, was forced to play in a cooperative with Drury this fall after deciding in the spring that it did not have enough players to sustain a varsity football team.
Pause said his players hope to change that as they move up to the high school over the next two years.
"That's really the hope, that this group will help bring football back to Mount Greylock," he said. "That's one of the hopes for all of us.
"For our kids, I don't think [the lack of a program at the school] impacted them much because they had the option to play on the youth team. Talking to some of the older kids who went up, they were disappointed. But it's just a game of numbers these days."
The high school football question is for the future. Of more immediate concern is gearing up for the world championships and acknowledging those who help the Tigers make the trip.
"I just want to thank everyone who has supported us," Pause said. "I think the Gofundme is over $2,000 now. People keep sharing it and liking it, and it keeps chugging along.
"We've gotten a lot of phone calls from people wishing us luck. It's good for the area."
To donate to the team, contact Carol Newberry at 413-441-7298 or Jason Pause at 413-281-1696 for details.
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