GREENVILLE — They may be blanketed in snow now, but come spring the newly constructed soccer fields behind Greenville Community Church will be covered by the footsteps of dozens of young soccer players.
“The fields will be ready to go come spring,” said Chuck Elliott, project coordinator for the church’s athletic fields development.
Three years ago, the church teamed up with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) to construct a new community athletic complex on a previously undeveloped 10 acres of land behind the church. The first plan called for a new softball field, but soon later the project added another softball field, eight soccer fields a skate park and a pavilion and picnic area.
Now around half of the eight planned soccer fields will be in service this spring as AYSO Region 1471 kicks off the 2014 season.
“Field space is at a premium and this helps us in getting all of our people in one place instead of scattered all around,” said Matt DePauw AYSO Region 1471 director, who noted previous years have seen teams play at several different locations throughout the community. “It really is getting the community together and saying this is where the AYSO fields are and this is where AYSO plays.”
Not only does it establish a location for the organization, which offers a youth soccer program for children ages 4 to 14, but it also means better facilities.
“The church has allowed a portion of the pole barn for storage, which means we can have permanent goals out there. The kids can use nets instead of just cones, which means they know what size goal to protect and to shoot at,” DePauw said. “It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it really does make a big difference.”
The partnership between the church and AYSO raised tens of thousands of dollars for the project, which should be completely done by 2015 with the addition of a parking lot and nine-hole disc golf course.
In 2013, the groups installed a well, a $30,000 sprinkler system and finished the south field with reseeding and fertilizer, Elliot said.
Planned for this year are finishing one of the softball fields, install horseshoe pits, youth activity areas and a beach volleyball court.
For the North Field (five acres), Elliot said the hope is to excavate and level it off, install a sprinkler system, and seed and fertilize the area for play in 2015. Elliot said in order to accomplish that phase, an additional $60,000 needs to be raised.
“We are currently in need of an excavating company willing to donate equipment and time for this major endeavor,” he said. “We are also in need of fencing for the backstops and foul lines of the two softball fields.”
When complete, the north field will encompass a permanent softball field, additional soccer fields, playground and picnic area.
Softball Field No. 2 will be named “Kenneth D. Elliott Memorial Field” in honor of Elliot’s younger brother, who passed away last year during a work-related accident.
“Kenny was an avid softball player and soccer coach back home in Missouri,” Elliot said.
The softball field isn’t the only place to don a name come spring, the entire athletic complex has been given a new moniker. It will be called the “Integrity Sports Complex.”
The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Region 1471 Greenville will be holding registration for its youth soccer program from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 20 at Greenville Community Church. The program is available for children ages 4 to 14. Registration is $55 per child. Forms can be found at www.aysoregion1471greenvillesoccer.org online. The organization also has a free app you can download on your phone, titled AYSO Region 1471.