By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Sometimes, even the best laid plans go awry.
The West Virginia High School Soccer Tournament, held in Beckley the past eight years, has been forced to move to two Charleston-area fields.
Originally set for Friday and Saturday at the YMCA’s Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex, the two stadiums and six practice fields are filled with snow from Hurricane Sandy.
Event organizers said they cannot get the fields in playable condition, even by late next week.
Tournament co-director Dave Laraba said, “The youngsters who will be participating in the state tournament need a venue that will not impact the outcome of the game.”
Even if the snow was to be removed, the fields would quickly become a quagmire.
“There’s too much moisture. It is not warm, and there’s rain in the forecast. The players need a good surface to play on, and we couldn’t say with confidence we could give it to them next week.”
A lot of planning and hard work, by the Beckley soccer and business communities, will go by the wayside.
“It was an agonizing decision to make,” Laraba said. “A lot of people — the committee, sponsors, workers and businesses — were involved, but everybody felt we owed it to the players.
“We felt we had to tell the SSAC if they had another place with a surface that will be good, they should move the tournament.”
SSAC executive director Gary Ray accepted the recommendation and announced the games will be played Tuesday and Wednesday at Schoenbaum Stadium and Trace Fork Complex in Charleston.
“We hate having to move the tournament from Beckley, because of the effort by David Laraba and (Woodrow athletic director) Tim Carrico, but we trust their judgment and recommendations,” Ray said.
George Washington High School will host the Class AAA games at Schoenbaum. Charleston Catholic High School will direct the Class AA-A tournament at Trace Fork.
This was the first year of a four-year contract to host the state tournament in Beckley. The city has hosted the tournament 12 times in all.
“This is very hard for all of us, and for me personally,” Laraba said. “I have a real strong feeling for the tournament. A lot of people have worked hard over the years to make it happen.
“But we know what it means to play in the state tournament, and to be able to show your skills in an appropriate manner.
“We asked the coaches from Woodrow Wilson and Shady Spring at the meeting what would they want to do, and they all said play somewhere else.
“It’s in the best interest of our sport to move the tournament.”
— E-mail: dstillwell@