Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Essentia Health has been brought on as the first-ever platinum sponsor to the Duluth, Minn.-based Gitchi Gummi Soccer Club, it was announced over the weekend. Founded in 1991, the Gitchi Gummi club has grown exponentially over the past decade and now has more than 500 players ages 5-17 playing in development programs and on competitive teams. "It's been a massive shift, and I think for the most part we've managed to stay on the front end of it," Gitchi Gummi coaching advisor Barry Chastey said. "We'll continue to try and give the players what they need, which is quality coaching and an opportunity to learn and develop." It will be a three-year partnership between Essentia Health and Gitchi Gummi, with the specific dollar figure associated with the partnership being kept private. "It is exciting to be associated with a rapidly growing soccer club and this unique opportunity to support youth development in our region," Essentia Health vice-president of marking and communication Kristi Schmidt said. "Their vision and commitment to youth athletics and development are consistent with our mission of giving back to the communities we serve by partnering with organizations that want to make a healthy difference in people's lives." The partnership is a second piece of good news for Gitchi Gummi to come in 2013, with the first being a new affiliation with West Ham United of the English Premier League. West Ham coaches will be in Duluth this May to hold an identification camp for area players, with some of the best there expected to be invited to a national camp. The English coaches will also help implement some new training tactics for the Gitchi Gummi staff, with Chastey already have accompanied three other club coaches to England this past winter to start learning the new curriculum. Posted by Zach Schneider Bio - Facebook - Twitter - E-Mail