Soccerfest all played for fun

GARDNERVILLE - A determined look crosses the young girl's face as she brings the ball on a run up the field.

Suddenly, the red-clad Brianna encounters two defenders near the sideline. The 9-year-old defenders collide with each other, and as they tumble to the ground the ball strikes a foot and stops dead ... All three stop, look down at the ball. Then they begin to giggle.

"It's still in play," the field referee says, flashing a grin himself.

This was the 10th annual John Warner Soccerfest, an American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) event that attracted 139 youngsters for two days of co-ed games at Lampe Park. The young players competed in four age groups ranging from 5 to 14 years of age and came together from Carson City, Lake Tahoe, Smith Valley and the Carson Valley.

They got together to see friends and AYSO teammates, make some new friends, have some fun ... and, of course, play soccer.

The event actually began in 1984 and was renamed in memory of John Warner, a former Carson Valley AYSO commissioner who was involved with the program for eight years before he passed away from cancer in 1990.

Players are placed randomly onto co-ed teams which played a minimum of four games on Saturday and Sunday.

"This is loads of fun,"said Ralph Johnson, the current Carson Valley AYSO commissioner who spent his Sunday afternoon working as a referee. "Basically, this is a chance for the kids to get together and have fun playing soccer."

In addition to the regular games, there were special activities such as goalie wars to keep the players busy.

"We couldn't pry the kids away from the goalie wars," said Soccerfest director Terry Krout.

The youngsters also had a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Carson Valley Swim Center Saturday evening. And while the kids were busy, a silent auction was held that raised $1,042 for Carson Valley AYSO, according to Krout.

Lisa Christen, 9, played for a team called the Orange Tigers and had orange-colored hair to go with red cleats. What was the most fun about all of this?

"Playing soccer," said Christen, who has participated in the Soccerfest every year since she was in kindergarten. "I'm getting to play different positions. I've been practicing so I can play goalie."

Soccerfest teams were coached by players from Douglas High School's program. Many grew up playing at Soccerfest, including Karen Lucas and Ericka MacCabe, who are 10th graders at Douglas and teammates on the school's junior varsity girls soccer team. On this weekend, they coached on opposing teams.

"I really enjoy it," MacCabe said. "Kids actually listen to us, which is fun because I want to help them become soccer players."

"Usually we're listening to our coaches, now, we're the ones doing the talking," Lucas added with a smile. "It's fun being out here with them."

Lucas and Dara Harris coached a team called Millennium, and to show their team spirit, wrote "Go Navy Blue" on their arms and legs.

"We started spray painting the kids' hair last year ... it caught on fast," Lucas said.

There's no pressure to win, just to have fun.

"We don't do standings, we don't do championships," he added. "You see parents yelling for players on both teams because a lot of these kids play together during their regular season."


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