Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories featuring the Summervillle Soccer Club.
Since 1981 the Summerville Soccer Club has provided a place for athletes to enjoy football played on a pitch rather than a gridiron.
The club was founded by a small group of soccer enthusiasts but it has grown into a nine-field facility in Oakbrook where thousands of soccer players compete year-round. Over the past few years the number of youth players participating in programs at the club has doubled, from an estimated 650 six years ago to an estimated 1,300 this fall.
“I think it has to do with economics, parents wanting to get away from other sports and things like that,” Bob Hasenstab, president of the Summerville Soccer Club Board of Directors, said. “Those things and a little success are driving our numbers. I’m proud of that but I would say at about 1,500 we start to burst.”
In anticipation of further growth, board members are looking into lighting more fields or even opening a second facility in a different part of town. Currently four of the clubs fields are lighted, which allows more teams to get in practices and games.
“Hopefully we can find some more sponsors to help us light up the fields and accommodate more players,” Hasenstab said.
The club has played a large role in soccer becoming a tradition for many families.
“We have some third- and fourth-generation kids who play here,” Hasenstab said. “That’s what I really like about our club. Despite there being some competitiveness, this is still a Summerville club. I would say 90 percent of the kids who play here live within a 15-mile radius. Who would have thought we would get more than 1,000 kids to kick this round ball around basically out of just this town.”
Last weekend, Summerville Soccer Club host its annual Labor Day Academy Cup tournament that brought approximately 15 teams from out of the area together with around 50 local teams for two days of games.
“These tournaments provide opportunities for kids to have a great experience,” Hasenstab said. “They get to travel, stay in a hotel room and maybe jump in a swimming pool. My son is 22 and when he and his friends get together they don’t talk about the games they won; they talk about the fun they had and the funny names of some of the teams and being in the lazy river in Myrtle Beach. To me, that is the purpose of any community sport.”
The club is a 501(C) nonprofit organization.
“Basically 95 percent or more of our funds come from member fees, but we do have some sponsors,” Hasenstab said.
It is governed by a six-person board elected by the membership. Board members serve two-year terms.
A director of soccer, director of coaching, recreational program director and a few others run the day-to-day activities with the help of volunteer coaches.
In addition to its youth programs, the club offers an adult league and buddy soccer program for special needs players.