The sun shone, the breezes blew, and the municipal field behind the Enterprise Safeway was filled with over 50 kids kicking, heading and shooting during the 2004 combined Wallowa Valley Youth Soccer League (WVYSL) jamboree and Elks Soccer Shoot.
Nils Christoffersen headed up the WVYSL effort and was happy with the turnout.
Christoffersen reminded parents entering children in the WVYSL that registrations have to be in by Sept. 3, as the league is trying to start earlier this year than it has in the past. Last year the league had about 175 children registered, Christoffersen said, with three teams in the 11-13 age class, seven teams in the 8-10 bracket, and six teams in the 6-7 age group.
Are there good opportunities for children interested in soccer in Wallowa County?
"There isn't a whole lot of opportunity besides the fall Wallowa Valley Youth Soccer League," Christoffersen said. "We are looking at trying to create more opportunities. That's one of the reasons we have John Hanna here." Hanna, a member of the Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA), has many years of coaching experience. Hanna stressed that most kids who drop out of soccer do so because they aren't having fun. His drills are based on classic children's games like "red light, green light" or "simon says," to keep young players interested in learning.
"We like to keep it fun," Hanna said.
Christoffersen and the other coaches and volunteers of the WVYSL used the presence of Hanna as a way to develop new ideas and explore ways to create more opportunities for youth soccer, Christoffersen said.
Christoffersen thinks there is a place for expanded soccer in the county. The WVYSL pickup games, held on Sundays at 5 p.m., often see older players.
"Some Sundays we have a lot of 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kids who clearly enjoy soccer." The increase in the numbers of younger players have stretched the ability of the 25 or so volunteers, and has made it hard to put together a league for teens, Christoffersen said, "... but we're going to try to get something going for them. If not this year, then next."
The WVYSL is considering joining the OYSA, which would provide additional coaching, youth soccer clinics and the ability to participate in regional and state tournaments, as well as liability and secondary medical insurance.
Costs would be based on the number of children involved, Christoffersen said, and might be as much as $10 per child. If the WVYSL does join, the league would try to find business sponsorship, so as to alleviate some of the burden on parents, he said.
2004 Elks Soccer Shoot results
Boys, age 12-14: 1, Alex Josephy, 25. 2, Daniel Croghan, 16. 3, Jacob Misko, 15.
Girls, age 12-14: No contestants
Boys age 11-12: 1, Matthew Perren, 25. 2, Cole Sajonia, 24. 3, Steve Carter, 21.
Girls age 11-12: 1, Shelby Mortui, 24. 2, Miriam Bashon, 13. 3, Lindsay Martin, 7.
Boys age 9-10: 1, Pierce Millar, 27. 1, Wesley Conrad, 27. 2, David Lewis, 24. 3, Derek Kolbaba, 22.
Girls 9-10: 1, Marta Stangel, 23. 2, Silje Christoffersen, 22. 3, Jill Morton, 19.
Boys 4-8: 1, Michael Pendarvis, 16. 2, Nikolai Christoffersen, 15. 3, Joseph Pendarvis, 13. 3, Caevan Murray, 13.
Girls 4-8: 1, Shayna Cooper, 33. 2, Carsen Sajonia, 25. 3, Karianne Zollman, 20.