Without much fanfare, the Carroll County Soccer Association (CCSA) started in 1989 despite very little interest in the sport in the county at that time.
Now, 25 years later, the organization’s impact can be seen all over the Twin Counties as several high school coaches in the area were introduced to the sport through the league. Over the past quarter of a century, the CCSA has grown from having less than 50 players its first couple of seasons to nearly 600 now.
“We have had many players go from our little league soccer association program to the high school program and we have had several that went on to play in college. And now we have several that are coaching high school soccer in our area,” said Mark Beck. “Corey Williams, the varsity boys’ coach at Carroll, Josh Edmonds, the JV boys’ coach at Carroll, Stephanie Wright is the assistant girls’ varsity coach at Carroll, Matthew Goad is the assistant varsity coach at Carroll, and Brad Mawyer is the varsity coach at Grayson. All these people started out with our soccer association.”
The CCSA started in 1989 with only about 50 players. Within just a few seasons, Beck said the numbers grew so much, up to about 500, the association added a spring season to the fall season. That allowed football players to play soccer in the spring, while baseball players could play soccer in the fall. For those that just wanted to play soccer, it now allowed them to play two seasons throughout the course of a year.
“Twenty-five years ago a group of individuals saw a need for soccer in our area and formed this non-profit organization. Now are numbers are up to more than 300 players in the fall and between 250 and 300 in the spring,” Beck said. “We’re pleased because we have given an outlet of activities for the kids and we have done it while keeping our costs down. We are not trying to make any money off of it. We just try to cover our expenses for each season.”
And while numbers have grown in the program, so too have offerings for the county’s youth. The CCSA started a new program two years ago for 3-year-olds. Beck explained that the program is a more relaxed environment than the other age groups. It is more of an instructional program designed to get 3-year-olds familiar with the sport, the skills necessary to play soccer, as well as chance to meet other youth of their own age.
“It’s instructional and they just do that on weekends for an hour on Saturdays and Sundays. It gives them a little bit of instruction, but also gets them away from mom and dad for a while,” Beck said. “For many kids that age, they don’t have opportunities to be around other children of the same age.”
Currently, the CCSA offers the 3-year-old instruction league, as well as leagues for the following age groups: 4-5, 6- 7, 8-10, 11-14, and 14-18. The older age groups now have the benefit of playing teams from other areas.
“Even for 8-10, we have expanded into playing teams from other areas. We play Patrick, Grayson, Wytheville, Mount Airy (N.C.), Pilot Mountain (N.C.) and even Dobson (N.C.),” Beck said. “We have grown in that aspect and it is a great learning experience for the kids.”
CCSA games in the fall are played at St. Paul and Woodlawn schools, while games in the spring are played at Lambsburg and behind the tennis courts at Carroll County High School.
The CCSA will have a soccer camp for ages 3-18 on Sat., Aug. 23 at St. Paul School from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. The camp is $15 and includes a free 25th anniversary CCSA t-shirt. Campers can register the day of the camp.
Sign-ups for the fall season will also be held during the camp, or campers can sign up at the Southwest Virginia Training Center on Tues., Aug. 19 or Thurs., Aug. 21 from 6:30-8 p.m. Cost is $30 for the season. For more information go to the CCSA website at www.carrollcountysoccer.org.
“People can go to the website to check it out or they can leave us a message there,” Beck said. “And anybody interested in either coaching or helping out financially can contact us through our website. We are always in need.”