Wallowa Valley joins state's soccer leagues

<I>Hector del Castillo/Chieftain</I><BR>Andy Gebhardt, 6, and his sister Rachel, 8, pass a winter night at the little gym in Enterprise.

The local soccer season expands out of its autumn shell.

Youngsters will soon find more opportunities - summer games, faraway tournaments and instructional camps - as Wallowa County's league has officially joined to the Oregon Youth Soccer Association. The OYSA recently accepted Wallowa Valley application for membership, chairman Nils Christoffersen informed local directors at the March 5 board meeting in Enterprise.

"With the Oregon Youth Soccer Association," Christoffersen noted, "we'll have chances for more competition. We can travel to tournaments in Boise and Bend, and there will also be camps for kids and clinics for coaches."

Immediately, the board discussed soccer for this summer. The effort is to assemble two teams of youngsters under age 15 and another group under 19. They will represent Wallowa Valley during July in game organized by the Union County Youth Soccer Association. The schedule runs throughout the month, four night games each week, Monday through Thursday, starting at 7 p.m.

All games this upcoming July will happen in Union County. The league has about 30 fields scattered as close as Elgin and as far as Cove, La Grande and Union. Already, Wallowa Valley Soccer Association has budgeted rentals of a 12-seat van.

"It's a short, very intense season," Christoffersen said. "I've heard that their kids are really excited about new competition."

Youngsters must sign up for the new league by April 30. Shortly after spring break, forms will be available at local schools, post offices as well as Wallowa Resources in Enterprise. Registration costs $25 for the summer, separate from an individual fee for the existing fall schedule. Fees pay for the various league expenses: membership in the OYSA and the UCSA, equipment, field rental and travel among others. Summer teams will begin practicing when the school year ends in late May, early June.

Also, new summer teams need coaches. Positions are open to all volunteers. For more information, contact Caio DeMelo at 398-2241.

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