By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Beckley’s soccer community has been hard at work, preparing for the state high school soccer tournament, Nov. 2-3 at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex.
Most volunteer positions have been filled for the tournament, which will celebrate its 14th year in Beckley, and ninth consecutively.
“It’s going well, although we still need some volunteers for team hosts,” tournament co-director Dave Laraba said. “We need 16 families to host the teams.”
Team hosts are the link between eight girls and eight boys teams, and the community. Whatever a team needs, the host will try to accommodate them.
“They’ll contact their team the week before, find when they’re coming in, if they need reservations to eat and if they’re coming to the fields for practice,” Laraba explained.
“When they arrive, the host will welcome them, take them to their motels and stay with them during the games.”
If someone needs a drug store, a laundromat or a pizza, the host will see they get there.
“It’s an important job, and the teams appreciate it,” Laraba said. “Many teams request the same hosts again.
“Of all the staff spots, the hosts are where we have the biggest turnover, because kids graduate and people move on.
“You don’t have to know squat about soccer to be a host. You have to be a people person.”
Anyone interested can contact Laraba by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Carrico, Woodrow Wilson High School’s athletic director, serves as co-tournament director with Laraba. He will coordinate with visiting schools, as well as with the Raleigh County Board of Education.
Laraba said, “Our new superintendent of schools, James Brown, has been very supportive of our efforts.”
Other key tournament personnel include Nancy Kissinger and Kim Prelaz (AA-A hospitality room), Jean Sumpter (AAA hospitality), Missy Young (coordinator of team hosts), Charlie Birkelbach (field and press box coordinator), Butch Antolini (media coordinator) and Jane Laraba (Shady Spring High School Key Club).
Besides Woodrow Wilson and Shady Spring, the tournament is receiving volunteer help from Independence and Midland Trail high schools. Others are welcome to help.
Many area businesses are donating to the tournament, several for the first time.
“We appreciate everybody,” Laraba said. “Some are anonymous, but they’re all important to us.”
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission awards the state soccer tournament to a city for three years, with an option on the fourth year. Beckley has hosted the tournament since 2004.
“The SSAC is pretty happy with us,” Laraba said. “The weather and field conditions are the only things we can’t control. The fields and everything else will be as close to perfect as we can make them.”
The tournament starts Friday, Nov. 2, at 9:30 a.m. with Class AA-A semifinals on Carter Family Foundation Stadium. Class AAA semifinals get under way at 10 a.m. at Paul Cline Stadium.
Championship games are at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for AAA girls, and 11 a.m. for AA-A boys. The AAA boys and AA-A girls title matches will start 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first games.
“We hope people will come out and support the tournament,” Laraba said. “You will have a good time, see some good soccer and support the community.”
— E-mail: dstillwell@