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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Woodfill Boosters, Campbell County Youth Soccer Work Together To Support Kids

CCYSL Woodfill soccer players and their coaches walk onto Highlands Soccer Field at Tower Park on a misty morning in September, 2017. Photo by Jana Albritton.

For many families, late August means cleats and shin guards, practices and games, lawn chairs and water bottles, and Saturdays spent at the soccer field. Campbell County Youth Soccer League (CCYSL) is one of the largest recreational clubs in Northern Kentucky, teaching soccer skills to more than 1,400 players each season. This year, several Woodfill Elementary teams are benefitting with paid uniforms and new equipment, thanks to the generosity of Woodfill Boosters. And children across Campbell County are benefitting from the many hours of volunteer time given by parents, coaches and community members each week.

Several northern Kentucky soccer leagues exists, and this can cause confusion, especially with younger families whose children have just begun to express interest. So we asked Adam Trice, CCYSL Woodfill sub-group rep, to break it down for us.

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• CCYSL is a recreational soccer club (non-profit) and registered member of the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association (KYSA). "It's main purpose is to provide affordable recreational soccer to Campbell County residents," Trice says. "As a recreational soccer club, teams are formed according to rules that comply with KYSA guidelines." A focus is placed on teamwork and commitment, while also working to advance soccer skills. Almost everyone associated with the league is a volunteer.

• As a recreational organization, CCYSL holds no tryouts for team placement. "All Campbell County residents who meet the birth year requirements are eligible to participate," Trice says.

• CCYSL strives to group players by their geographic locations if possible (in short, so players can be on the same team as many of their friends). As such, the organization has adopted the use of sub-group representatives that align with the local elementary and middle schools in Campbell County, Trice says. "This position is generally filled by each school individually through their boosters organization or PTO board," he adds.

• Other local leagues include Northern Kentucky Soccer Academy (NKSA) and Kings Hammer Soccer Club. "These are both select organizations that hold yearly tryouts for new participants," Trice says.

Shelley Frey has served as assistant coach and head coach for both her son's and daughter's teams for three seasons. The fall 2018 season will mark her fourth season coaching. "The league does a fantastic job of making soccer accessible," Frey says. "It allows kids to play and learn the sport without eclipsing all other activities. The non-competitive atmosphere fostered by the league enables players of all abilities to be included."

To ease the cost for students who wish to play recreational soccer, Trice worked with Woodfill Boosters, a parent-led organization focused on supporting students who participate in extracurricular activities, to secure funding for the purchase of 100 new uniforms for the soccer program. As such, beginning with the fall 2018 soccer season, Woodfill Boosters has offered to provide Woodfill soccer uniforms to all participants who play on a Woodfill team at no additional charge to parents and guardians. Uniforms cost $30 in previous seasons.

Eric Neufarth, Woodfill Boosters president, says the Boosters also supports Woodfill students by providing their field trip and district field day t-shirts, purchasing equipment for the playground and gym, paying for and dressing up as the Wildcat mascot, and providing an iPad used for PE classes and sporting events. The organization has also made donations in support of Woodfill's The Leader in Me program, has sponsored events like the Turkey Trot, and has provided food and entertainment at the back-to-school picnic, which is now incorporated with Woodfill's Readifest.

Neufarth says the Boosters raises money for these student benefits through a few key events during the school year. "Some funds come through community-building events, like the mother/son and father/daughter dances, but the largest producers for our organization recently have been the volleyball league, clinics and basketball events we host in the school's gym," he says.

In addition to the uniform donation, Woodfill Boosters now also supports the fairly new Campbell Cup Tournament, a league tournament created in 2017 that is open for CCYSL teams only."No select teams can register," Trice says. "Many of the other soccer tournaments in the area are open to all teams meaning that select teams are able to participate as well, which increases the number of teams as well as registration fees collected. The CCYSL board made the decision to keep the tournament closed to only league participants to try and promote a fun atmosphere where teams are more evenly matched as only recreational soccer teams are permitted."

Woodfill Boosters' donation of pop-up tents and benches are a welcome addition to CCYSL Woodfill teams. 

For the past two years Woodfill Boosters has supported this tournament by covering all registration fees ($100 per team) for Woodfill teams that have participated in the tournament. The Boosters also provided pop-up tents and team benches.

"My daughter's team was able to use these items during the Campbell County Cup tournament at the end of the spring season," Frey says. "With fields in full sun and 90° temperatures, the tent and availability of extra water made an amazing difference."

Through these donations and support, Woodfill soccer players are now able to play for CCYSL with only the league fees charged to parents, which is currently $60 per season for U8-U10. "With uniforms provided and the league tournament feeds covered, there is no additional charge for participation, which was not the case in the past." Trice says the goal is to increase participation without addition additional unknown expenses to the parents after they have registered.

"We typically identify needs through requests from the teachers and staff at the school, but occasionally we are contacted by Woodfill parents coaching in the leagues our school recognizes in the Fort Thomas community," Neufarth says. "This is how we were presented the opportunity to support the CCYSL teams this past year in the [Campbell Cup] tournament. Adam Trice, who not only serves on our board, but is also a coach and the school's representative for the league, approached us with the request to support our Woodfill teams in some way. After considering the impact and ability the board voted in favor of not only covering the cost of the entry for the tournament, but also purchased a collapsible bench that will continue to be used by the teams in coming seasons."

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Neufarth is currently serving his second and final two-year term as president of Woodfill Boosters, but notes that the organization is also "very well led" by three additional board members, Chrissy Barlow, Andy Raaker and Adam Trice. "In addition, we are strongly supported by some amazing parent and teacher committee members and volunteers," he says. "Matt and Mandy Gessner, Rebecca Neufarth, Carrie Skirvin and Amanda Kramer, who had been a longstanding board member for several years until just recently."

Like CCYSL, Woodfill Boosters exists thanks to countless volunteer hours. "We're excited to have another great school year in front of us, and we have a new event we're just beginning to plan for later this fall, but as strong as we are, we still need support," Neufarth says. "Changes are coming as many of the existing teams' children grow older and move to middle school." Neufarth says Woodfill Boosters is actively looking for support from some new parents who are interested in getting involved at the school. "We will have opportunities to chair or support committees like our new fall event, social media, mascot scheduling and staffing, T-shirt captain and others." Meetings are currently held in Woodfill's cafeteria on the second Wednesday of every month during the school year at 6 p.m. All are welcome.

CCYSL has benefited hundreds of Northern Kentucky families. "As the Woodfill sub-group rep, I have been to nearly all of the monthly meetings for CCYSL since taking the position in 2017," Trice says. "In that time, I have seen and heard many positive examples of how the league is involved in the community that might not be seen or heard outside of those meetings."

Trice says the league has generously donated soccer goals and nets to many of the practice fields used by the teams. "This is a huge benefit in that many of the old goals owned by cities themselves were rusting and in disrepair," Trice says.

Additionally, the CCYSL offers discounted soccer tickets to specified FC Cincinnati games and has also provided opportunities for players to be the official "ball boy/girl" for matches. "This means the players selected get to be on the field with the FC Cincinnati team before the game, which is a great opportunity for aspiring soccer players in a recreational soccer league," Trice says.

Trice adds that the Campbell Cup itself has promoted a more-engaged soccer community in Campbell County, with schools able to play against one another for trophies and medals.

CCYSL Woodfill U10 team at the Campbell Cup tournament, May 2018. Volunteer coaches, including Andy Uhl, Adam Trice, Matt Albritton and Shelley Frey, all shown here, focus on building teamwork, confidence and good sportsmanship, as well as teaching soccer skills.

"As a parent, I believe that this league has instilled in my kids the importance of teamwork and working together to achieve a goal," Trice says. "These skills can be applied far beyond the soccer field. However, the fact that they ware able to do so while also making new friends and having fun each weekend during the season is a blessing in disguise."

Frey agrees. "Each game, each practice gives the kids the opportunity to grow their soccer skills but also their life skills," she says. "Participating can instill confidence, encourage resiliency, inspire teamwork and good sportsmanship, and serve as evidence that the experience is what matters, not the outcome. It can definitely be an uphill battle but watching both soccer and life skills grow during each season in amazing."

(Registration for CCYSL's Fall 2018 season is now closed, as teams have been formed and games are currently being played. For information on registering for the Spring 2018 season, go here.)

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