When it comes to soccer, Beckley is a winner.
The site selection for the next four high school state championships in soccer was determined by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Board of Directors in a meeting at the SSAC office in Parkersburg Wednesday.
Beckley maintained its hold on hosting the event.
The tournament is held at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex on Grey Flats Road.
“This is a big deal,” said W.Va. Soccer Association president Dave Laraba, who was one of the local officials pushing the Beckley bid. “Everyone in the community gets behind it and it’s been very successful.”
SSAC Executive Director Gary Ray gave Laraba the news Wednesday afternoon.
“He called me and told me our bid had been accepted,” Laraba said. “That was a relief.”
“Beckley has been a friendly city that treats the kids right,” Ray said. “That’s No. 1 to us. Dave Laraba and the staff there understand the importance of soccer and make it an event.
“The people of Beckley make it special and make our kids feel welcome. I can’t say enough about how good Beckley has been.”
No other city bid on the soccer championships.
“We had to go through the process though,” Laraba said. “We were pretty comfortable, but you still have to submit your bid and give the best that you can. We didn’t have another bid competing against us, but that doesn’t mean that you can rest on your laurels. I’ve been on committees for other big events where bids have been rejected.
“So we put our best bid forward.”
There is little doubt in Laraba’s mind that the fields make Beckley an even more attractive host.
“It all starts with the complex,” he said. “When you have that facility, it makes all of the things you have to do easy. There are other people, other volunteers in other cities that could do the work. But they don’t have the facility. That’s the key.”
The YMCA Youth Sports Complex has two stadiums in its eight field layout — Cline Stadium hosts the Class AAA tournament while Carter Family Foundation Stadium hosts the Class AA-A action.
“The facility in Beckley is phenomenal,” Ray said. “I would put it up against any one in the country. It’s a great facility and it’s kid-friendly, with the opportunity to watch two games on two outstanding fields.”
“That makes it easy to put on a first class event,” Laraba said. “The community gets behind it and it all flows together.
There are future projects on the drawing board that could further solidify the complex as the state’s soccer mecca.
“I hope to get more community support behind the YMCA to construct a press box and locker rooms for Carter (Stadium),” Laraba said. “All it takes now is money. I hope we can make a push, to get someone to say, ‘I can help.’ Having it’s own press box and locker rooms is something we would like to get done to enhance the experience.”
The state soccer tournament is played during the first weekend of November each fall.
“It comes at a good time for Beckley — it’s the end of Gauley (rafting) season and ski season hasn’t started yet,” Laraba pointed out. “It puts people in hotels and restaurants in what was typically a down time.”
Sites for football and cross country were also at stake, with Wheeling and Ona maintaining their hosting opportunities, respectively.
The bids will be for four years, from 2012 to 2015, according to the SSAC release.
Princeton also placed a sealed bid for the football championships, while Romney bid for the cross country event.
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