Local Pokémon League entertains kids for over two decades

T-R PHOTOS BY SUSANNA MEYER — Top, left to right, library employee Luis Alcaraz and volunteer Logan Jay. Bottom, left to right, long time player JD Disser and volunteer Cheyenne Mull.

The Pokémon League at the Marshalltown Public Library offers a chance for fun and community for young fans of the game all over the area. Every Thursday, kids ages eight and up are welcome to come and play the popular trading card game with their peers.

This event is not a new one: according to Logan Jay, a longstanding volunteer at the library and one of the monitors for the league, it’s been going strong for nearly 22 years. For 18 of them, Jay has been attending both as a player and volunteer.

The league was initially founded in the now-shuttered Hastings Books, Music and Video Store back in early 2000, and it migrated to the library — at its old State Street location — in 2004.

Jay started as a Pokémon player, but by the end of 2006, he began to dedicate his time to volunteering and assisting with the league — not only because he liked playing but also because of the community the event created. The kids who participate reap the same benefits: oftentimes, they just come to share their cards and hang out with their friends.

“I enjoy being here. I enjoy helping out. Working with kids is a pretty big enjoyment as well,” Jay said.

Pictured are dedicated volunteers Logan Jay, top, and Cheyenne Mull, bottom. They supervised Thursday night’s Pokemon League event.

Joa LaVille, the Youth Services Manager at the library, enjoys the event because it mixes education and fun and aligns with the MPL’s mission to support learning and recreation.

“Learning about Pokémon and the person who created it is really interesting because it’s based on the scientific classification of living things,” LaVille said.

The Pokémon card game was originally created in the late 1990s and spawned numerous video games, TV shows and movies. The creatures displayed in the card game have various classifications based on their type, and they are used to “battle” against each other. Math skills also come into play as they have specific statistics used to calculate who won a battle. LaVille says it builds interest in learning because of the way it’s presented, and most importantly, it gives kids something to do together.

“Kids, more than ever right now, need a place to relax and have fun,” LaVille said.

Because it was a well-established and much-loved event before the pandemic, Pokemon League was easily one of most missed weekly events at the library when the lockdowns hit.

“When we were down, with the library not being open, there were probably about 20 or 30 people messaging me about if we were actually going to start back up again,” Jay said.

While members of the Pokémon League were unable to meet up for a while, the event is slowly making a comeback as old participants and newcomers alike start attending the event again. LaVille stressed that Pokémon League wouldn’t be possible without the committed service of the library volunteers.

“We wouldn’t be able to offer it without (the volunteers) because they help navigate it and teach the kids how to play,” LaVille said.

Pokémon League is held every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Players are encouraged to bring their own cards, but there are also decks available to be borrowed. Any questions can be directed to the youth services desk at the library.


Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or



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