Brumfield feels right at home with tourney
HUNTINGTON -- Dennis Brumfield is a man of many hats this week during the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships.
And he enjoys wearing them all quite well.
Brumfield, who lives in Point Pleasant, serves as the national treasurer for US Youth Soccer and is also one of many volunteers helping out his home state this week.
In his role at US Youth Soccer, he has seen many national tournaments but never one so close to home.
"It's a unique perspective seeing us have soccer at such a national level because there was no soccer around when I grew up here (in Chesapeake, Ohio)," Brumfield said. "Even when I went to Marshall, the only people who played it were foreign students and sometimes the fraternities."
According to Dave Laraba, the West Virginia Soccer Association's executive director, there are now 18,000 youth soccer participants in the Mountain State -- a 60 percent increase from the numbers just over a decade ago.
While the state's involvement has grown, it still pales in comparison to other states. Region I is the biggest of the four regions in the United State with more than 1,000,000 members.
So out of a pool of 15 state associations within 13 different states, what was it about West Virginia that enabled it to grab such a prestigious tournament?
Brumfield said the answer goes well beyond the game itself.
"We have the most beautiful state in the United States. I've been to all 50 states through soccer," Brumfield said. "It's the most beautiful and the people go out of their way to make you feel welcome."
That was part of the allure of being a volunteer for Brumfield.
After this week, there will be several more tournaments for him to work -- including the nationals later this month in Overland Park, Kan.
However, there will be nothing like being able to work a tournament that took place just right over the river from where he grew up.
"What an honor to get to work with these people," Brumfield said. "Like I said there was no soccer when I grew up, but these people sacrifice their time to help the game grow. It's just wonderful how far it's come, how far its grown and how people around here accept it.
"In West Virginia, people want to give and when you give, you get back. When you do something kind, goodness comes back. This is part of that goodness and it's exciting to see them rewarded."