Millions of kids in the U.S. play soccer. And now, thanks to the generosity of local community leaders, more Ashland area youth will have the opportunity to learn, play and enjoy the sport.
Lynn Prichard and his business partners at BRCP Inc. have loaned land they own near the intersection of 25th Street and Central Avenue for the use of the Ashland Area YMCA Youth Soccer League. The property is currently up for sale, but Prichard has agreed to allow the Y to use it until a buyer is found.
It’s a gesture for which Kevin Busick, YMCA sports and fitness director, is extremely grateful. More kids were able to participate in the fall soccer league, and the Y was able to offer an Eastern Elite Academy Soccer program to help kids hone their skills and learn new ones.
Previously, AAYMCA Youth Soccer played on three fields at Central Park. “We are extremely grateful to the city of Ashland and to the Parks and Recreation Department for all of their support through the years we’ve played in the park,” Busick said. But it was time for AAYMCA youth soccer to grow.
Busick also is grateful to King’s Daughters Medical Center, which donated $2,000, and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, which donated $500, to purchase the soccer goals needed for the new fields. Now Busick is looking for some additional community support, in the form of donations to build a fence around the fields. The cost is estimated in the $20,000 range.
“It’s an important investment, as it will protect the kids while they’re playing, but also help keep the fields in good condition when no one is around,” he noted, adding, “What we’re doing right now is Step 1. Step 2 is the fence, then a temporary building” that would house restrooms, storage and a concession stand.
His goal is to demonstrate both the community’s support of the soccer fields and the benefit they bring to the community. “We hope that by investing in the fields, we can make the case that the loan be turned into something more permanent and long-term,” he said.
The new AAYMCA soccer complex includes four fields, two sized for kids age 6 and under, and two larger fields for athletes over the age of 8. “The past two weekends, the place has been packed. It has been so great to see parents and families out there enjoying the games and bringing life to that location.”
Although there have been a few hiccups along the way, things have gone pretty smoothly and more than 360 kids were able to participate in AAYMCA Youth Soccer at the new fields. Next year, Busick said, will be even better.