The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 4, 2012

The right thing

The Register-Herald

BECKLEY — Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing.

That’s what Beckley-area officials connected with hosting the West Virginia high school state soccer tournament did last week.

With 16 inches of snow dumped on the grass fields of the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex in Beckley, thanks to Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm, tournament directors faced a difficult task of assessing the damage and an even tougher decision.

They conversed multiple times with officials from the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, overseers of high school sports in our state, and handed over their findings on Wednesday.

Despite losing a prestigious event into which months of hard work had already been poured, tournament officials recommended to the WVSSAC that the games be moved, citing that the natural grass fields in Beckley would be unplayable anytime soon.

Instead, the games will be played on artificial turf fields in Charleston (Class AAA) and South Charleston (Class AA-A) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tournament director Dave Laraba stated, “In all fairness to the youngsters who will be participating in the state tournament, they need a venue that will not impact the outcome of the game. It is in the best interest of our sport to move the tournament.”

Those had to be excruciating words for Laraba to muster up. Laraba has personally invested a ton into the event and youth soccer in general.

Gary Ray, WVSSAC executive director, said in a statement, “We hate having to move the tournament from Beckley because of the effort by David Laraba and Tim Carrico, athletic director at Woodrow Wilson High School, but we trust their judgment and recommendations.”

Hosting the state soccer tournament means hundreds of spectators driving into the area, spending tens of thousands of dollars in hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other retail outlets. That’s a benefit of holding the event here.

But with their priorities being in check, tournament officials did the right thing for the kids involved. Safety and fairness rose above everything else.

Now, many who have volunteered and helped locally are in the process of assisting those in Charleston to stage this year’s event. Many of the area businesses that made financial commitments have told local organizers to keep the funds and use them to help out in Charleston.

That type of attitude and commitment is what makes Beckley one of the top sites among those that host high school state tournaments in West Virginia.

Our area has been a great host.

Beckley has hosted the soccer event since 2004 and is currently in its first year of a new four-year commitment with the WVSSAC.

We believe the WVSSAC could not have found a better soccer city to partner with, with Beckley providing adjacent fields at a premier facility that features two soccer-only stadiums, combined with a strong volunteer base and solid leadership.

All of the folks involved with the planning and organizing of the state soccer tournament in Beckley should take a bow.

They’ve demonstrated the very definition of being a team player.

A great example, played out in front of the kids.

Even though the games won’t be played here this week, because of your unselfish actions, you’ve scored a game-winning goal.

One of which everyone in our surrounding area can be proud.