CMS getting soccer team

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CHESPEAKE — It’s a baby step, but it’s bringing the goal of having county-wide middle and high school soccer tournaments that much closer to reality.

Next fall there will be a co-ed soccer team starting up at Chesapeake Middle School. If other schools follow suit, then a dream of the Eastern Lawrence Youth Soccer Association can come to fruition.

This season the league did offer teams for middle school age children, playing games at the campus of Ohio University Proctorville. But it would like to shift its focus totally onto the younger players.

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“We want to concentrate on our league up to sixth grade,” Steve McCloud, vice president of the league, said. “Our vision is that that group will feed middle school teams from county schools … to set up a base in place for feeding middle and hopefully high school. What we would like to see happen is for our middle schools to have teams and eventually have a county championship. We have kids right now who are going to different schools out of Lawrence County in order to play soccer. We want to get those kids back.”

Begun about three years ago, the soccer organization primarily holds its games on the land at the Lawrence County Airpark. That venue is open to players starting at 4 years old.

However, middle school teams need a larger playing field. That’s when the league moved those games to OU Proctorville this summer and early fall.

“We were utilizing it every night of the week,” Jason Stephens, president of the association, said recently.

However, if other middle schools follow Chesapeake’s lead, the football fields there could be used. Right now, St. Joseph School in Ironton has an upper level soccer program along with one for South Point area students, which is not affiliated with the school district.

Stephens said he sees the addition of a soccer program as a way of making schools more attractive by allowing them to play a school-sanctioned sport.

“It opens the doors potentially for scholarships for our Chesapeake kids,” Stephens said.

Recently, Dr. Scott Howard, superintendent of Chesapeake schools, applauded the efforts of the league in promoting soccer in the county.

“This is an opportunity for kids to enjoy an extracurricular activity,” Howard said. “We have already gotten four matches scheduled next year.”