Extra care to soccer fields pays off
BARBOURSVILLE -- Organizers of the 2010 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships described this year's six-day tournament as a "well-oiled machine" after addressing issues that sprung up during last year's tournament.
Len Rogers, president of the West Virginia Soccer Association, said he has been hearing nothing but positive comments after five days of tournament play. Rogers said organizers and volunteers have been pitching in to make the event a success.
So far, Rogers said, their hard work has paid off.
"It's all running like a well-oiled machine," Rogers said. "We already had everything in place from last year, so all we had to do this year was perfect it."
Tournament organizers were criticized by players and coaches during last year's tournament because they felt the fields weren't befitting of such an important event. The playing fields in Barboursville and Huntington have been leveled out, seeded, reseeded and watered continuously since last year.
The result of months of seeding and watering, Rogers said, are playing fields that have satisfied the 4,500 soccer players. What's also satisfied the 16,000 soccer players, parents, coaches and referees visiting the Tri-State have been the sights of West Virginia.
Rogers said he's gotten calls from tournament participants who have chosen to extend their stays in the Tri-State even after getting bumped out of the tournament. Craig Warner, chairman of the tournament host committee, said lots of people have been asking about local attractions.
Last year was the first year the tournament was held in the Huntington area. It had an estimated economic impact of about $12 million.
Warner, who has a tent full of volunteers stationed at the fields, said visitors have asked about Beech Fork State Park in Lavalette and the Heritage Farm Museum and Village in Huntington. While some spent their time visiting downtown Huntington shops and stores at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville, other visitors wanted some physical activity.
This year, Warner said, they are directing people to local hiking trails and bicycle paths. A number of visitors, Warner said, brought bicycles and rode around the Barboursville Soccer Complex at Barboursville City Park.
When they weren't touring the Tri-State's local attractions, Warner and Rogers said tournament-goers were looking for places to eat. Warner said volunteers guided visitors to restaurants based on the location of where they were staying. Popular destinations included Rocco's Ristorante in Ceredo and Tascali's Decades Pasta & Grill in Barboursville.
"The visitors have been soaking up the local sites," Warner said. "We've only heard positive comments from visitors."
While the tournament has brought plenty of money into the local economy, the one activity that everyone has been asking about was whitewater rafting. Warner and Rogers said tournament-goers planned trips to go rafting either during or after the tournament was over. Warner said other visitors were asking about activities in other West Virginia towns like Beckley and Morgantown.
"It seems that they're are in love with West Virginia and the folks in West Virginia," Warner said.