You might remember our focus last week on Highland Hills being booted out of the Jefferson County Middle School Soccer League because of a liability concern about Louisville schools having to travel and play in Indiana.
Well, the Jaguars’ wish of more middle schools from Southern Indiana starting up programs so that a league can be started in the area seems closer to becoming a reality.
Parkview and River Valley in Jeffersonville have just kicked off new co-ed soccer programs and held their first instructional game against each other last week.
Over 50 children have been turning out for the teams over the past three weeks, ranging from travel and recreational players to those who are playing the game for the very first time.
The programs were started by Jeffersonville High School girls’ varsity coach, Scott Epley. Parkview is coached by New Albany’s assistant girls’ coach, Jason Crane, while Kevin Gibson and Randy Harris conduct training at River Valley.
Crane, who has two daughters attending Parkview, told Kick It that he and Epley talked about starting the teams during the high school season last fall.
“Our thoughts are simple: We have a very diverse group of kids in our school system,” he said. “We use the world’s most popular game to promote fair play, respect, confidence and fun.”
He said there are several types of players at both schools, ranging from children who have never touched a ball, to those playing recreational and travel soccer.
“We have a lot of work to do and I am pleased that the players are very eager to learn,” he said.
Crane revealed the aim is to get as many kids as they can involved in a sport that will help with their fitness.
“Our goal is to keep these players playing,” he said. “This will increase numbers and quality of play for the high school level.
“I would also love to see this filter down to the elementary schools one day as this is where it should have started.”
Crane said the challenge right now is acquiring the necessary equipment so that the programs can grow.
“Both schools need goals, balls, training vests and such,” he said. “All training is being done on a volunteer basis and the kids will have to pay for their own uniforms, which is a challenge for some families.”
Crane said they also hope other schools in the area can start programs, but understands the challenges involved.
“Julie (Deuser, head coach at New Albany HS) and I have talked about it often for the New Albany middle schools but I think it’s going to need the schools’ support first. After that then they need to find coaching.”