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Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch Volunteer Scott Miller works the grill during the 2019 US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships on Saturday, June 29, 2019, at the Barboursville Soccer Complex.

BARBOURSVILLE — On Sunday evening, many families from the 15 various state associations left Barboursville Soccer Complex with pool play at an end.

Many were headed back to their homes after completing the tournament while others were making plans for travel to Shawnee Sports Complex after their teams advanced to the championship rounds.

But long after the soccer matches ended, there was a core group of individuals who were still at the fields tearing down the tents and getting items ready for transport to Dunbar for the remainder of the tournament - a task that took them long into Sunday night.

"I've said it hundreds of times," WVSA President Len Rogers said. "I've got the best volunteer group that anybody could ask for. It doesn't matter what is needed. They go above and beyond every time, which is what makes the tourney special."

There are many behind-the-scenes elements that go into making sure that a tournament of this magnitude goes off without a hitch - things that, unless they go wrong - are often unnoticed.

In Barboursville, getting the natural grass fields cut properly and lined prior to game action is one major undertaking, while the infrastructure of getting everyone in place is another large task.

On-site during tournament play, there are many duties needed, as well - everything from parking lot attendants to those who prepare food for the referees and volunteers, those to assist with trash detail to make sure the park remains clean and those who offer golf cart transport for injured or disabled persons to get out to the various fields.

Amanda Wyatt, the WVSA Olympic Development administrator, is also at the helm of making sure field marshals - who are also volunteers - are in place prior to each match so that play can move along accordingly with proper personnel.

Rogers said the interesting thing about a tournament of this size is that it is never the same and there are always moving parts, which makes it vital for those volunteering to work to have a working relationship with each other.

That is why the group chooses a night during each tournament to gather for dinner at the fields, which is prepared on-site.

This year, that took place on Saturday with the home-cooked food giving a personal touch to the event while those who are normally bustling with tasks during the day got to relax for a bit and enjoy the camaraderie.

That camaraderie and family-type feel is what Rogers feels makes transitions - such as sudden changes of venue or unexpected happenings - easier. For Rogers' volunteer group, it isn't just about a working relationship, it is about the friendship aspect.

"The people who volunteer, they generally care about the well-being of the tournament and making sure that we put our best foot forward as a state," Rogers said. "They all have the same goal and all work together for that goal. That personal touch is what makes it special in West Virginia."

Throughout the weekend, visitors spanning Maine to Virginia and everywhere in between approached Rogers and the other volunteers to thank them for the extra personal care that they put into a tournament.

It is one of the reasons why Rogers feels U.S. Youth Soccer has repeatedly kept the West Virginia Soccer Association on its radar as a candidate to host tournaments of this magnitude.

Village of Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum agreed with that sentiment earlier in the weekend when he took in action while meeting with visitors from the Eastern region.

"I'm not sure that people really realize the amount of time and planning that goes into something like this," Tatum said. "For something of this magnitude, it truly takes a village."

As action ended Sunday in Barboursville, the volunteer group said their thank-yous and bid their farewells.

With the tournament returning to the Village of Barboursville in 2020, they know they will see each other again soon.


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