Youth Soccer finale on PYA turf

Mike Sullivan, Youth Soccer Association
“Yates County Youth Soccer continues to stress soccer skill development, and it really was on display on the turf that Saturday,” says Dan Doyle, Village of Penn Yan Director of Recreation & Facilities. He noted that turf fields are faster than most grass pitches, and they challenge players’ skills in advanced ways.

PENN YAN — Impressive last-minute efforts were made recently to save the season finale weekend for hundreds of local kids playing in the popular Yates County Youth Soccer League.

The day was a great success and a fitting season finale for an impressive grassroots soccer tradition in Yates 
County, especially given all the challenges due to the weather and the pandemic.

Due to the recent rains and excessive flooding, all games across all four divisions had to be relocated to the turf field at Penn Yan Academy on Saturday, Oct. 30 just hours before the kick-offs. The regular fields in the baseball park and even the pitches above the Elementary School were simply too soggy for the teams to use, so officials from the league, the schools, and the village decided to relocate all of the games, which included moving soccer goals, notifying coaches and families, laying out new temporary fields, mobilizing volunteers, and even firing up the grill – essentially creating a pop-up soccer festival.

Yates County Youth Soccer teams got to play their final matches on the Turf at Penn Yan Academy, thanks to cooperation between the school, the village, and the league.

“After meeting with Colby [Petersen] and Jon [MacKerchar], all three of us agreed that the village fields were unplayable,” said Dan Doyle, the Village’s Director of Recreation & Facilities. “Jon offered a quick solution to moving everything to the PYA Turf fields for that weekend. It was a seamless transition with coaches and players quickly adjusting to different field and goal sizes.” Penn Yan Central School Athletic Director Jon MacKerchar was on-site to make sure the turf and fields were ready for the spontaneous crowds on Saturday morning while Yates County Soil & Water Commissioner Colby Petersen coordinated the competition times from the announcer booth and helped coaches redesign field sizes when different age groups were scheduled to play.

U9 players compete on one of many pop-up fields created on the artificial turf during the YCYSL season finale on Oct. 30, as grass fields around town were too flooded to use.

The community’s efforts ensured that the games were not merely just rescued, but raised to a new level. Despite families having to watch from the bleachers and the fences instead of being up close along the sideline as they normally do on cozy soccer Saturdays, the crowds in the stadium were as big and supportive as ever. Complimentary pancakes and egg sandwiches added to the festive affair, as the food stand was also made available to the league just prior to the games by former YCSL coordinator and current concessions manager, Carmen Moss.

“We were super impressed with the organization and ease of having all of the U-7 teams and spectators end their season together,” said Meghan Trombley, a coach and mother on-site that drizzly morning. “The kids loved seeing their classmates from other teams playing at the same time and getting to experience playing on the turf itself was exciting for all. The free snacks were an extra fun addition and we really appreciate time spent in making it all come together so smoothly. We hope this may be the start of a new tradition-ending the season all together on the turf!”

The day was a great success and a fitting season finale for an impressive grassroots soccer tradition in Yates County, especially given all the challenges due to the weather and the pandemic. The YCYSL represents yet another aspect of community pride and passion, and regularly produces competitive teams, players, and coaches throughout the school and summer seasons – a remarkable accomplishment for such a young program. In fact, the first players ever to come all the way up through YCYSL program eventually went on to win Penn Yan’s first-ever league title for Boys’ Varsity Soccer in 2001. The YCYSL consistently brings together diverse members of the community with varying amounts of experience with the game, but yet equal parts passion, teamwork, and leadership. In turn, such efforts strengthen and sustain the league each year.

“Yates County Youth Soccer continues to stress soccer skill development and it really was on display on the turf that Saturday,” continued Doyle, noting that turf fields are faster than most grass pitches, and they challenge players’ skills in advanced ways. “The Village of Penn Yan appreciates the continued working relationship they have with the school, its athletic department, and the Yates County Youth Soccer League."