Soccer Association fields become little town when teams in play
By Marcus Stone, Staff Writer
The Williamson County Soccer Association kicked off their 33rd year mid-September with a ribbon cutting ceremony that featured Franklin Mayor John Schroer, along with Franklin Fourth Ward Alderman Dan Klatt, Franklin Alderman At Large Clyde Barnhill, and WCSA board members, staff, referees and players.
The WCSA has approximately 1,900 registered youth players, making them the largest soccer association in the state.
When asked how many people it takes to run a given Saturday of soccer, Mary K. Anderson, the association’s executive director, joked “a lot of people.”
“On a given Saturday out here, with families and kids, you have around 6,000 people coming through this location,” she said. “So it’s kind of crazy.”
The association’s 71 teams range from ages 5 to 18. The soccer complex located at Boyd Mill Avenue and Downs Boulevard boasts 27 soccer fields and is expected to host 1,368 games during the course of the fall season.
“On Saturdays it’s almost like a mini town,” said Bill Milton, currently the vice president of uniform and registration but is moving up to executive vice president. “It’s almost as big as the city of Franklin when I moved here,” he joked.
WCSA runs two outdoor seasons, fall and spring, and three indoor seasons according to Anderson. When you add the camps they run, it makes the association basically a year round ordeal.
“We are a true recreational sport,” Anderson said. “We do not have the travel and select teams here. That’s a different organization even though we share the same fields.”
One common misconception about WCSA is that they are a county organization run by the Franklin or Williamson County government. They are not. They are a non-profit organization that is a tenant of the field like everyone else that uses them; although, they take steps to have a good relationship with Williamson County Parks and Recreation, the fields’ owner, such as taking care of the field and buying their own nets.
The association runs by the mission statement: to promote the sport of soccer by providing an organized, safe, fun-filled environment to develop players on an individual and team level.
They take certain precautions to keep in line with their statement such as not allowing stacked teams. WCSA does not turn away any player for any reason, but does not allow travel players to all compile into one team to dominate the competition.
The philosophy is to share the wealth. Everyone is guaranteed to play for at least half the game. The purpose of recreational soccer is to have fun.
Forming teams is a little different for the younger ages. Every age group and gender has a commissioner whose job is to make sure teams are divided properly. The goal is to have teams set by neighborhoods so the kids are playing with their friends.
“The best way to describe it out here is it’s definitely a community,” Anderson said.
She got involved in 1990 when her daughter starting playing. One day she got the infamous call saying that the league needed coaches. Almost 20 years later she is more involved than ever.
Such is the story for many people currently involved at WCSA. Having been around for 33 years, past players have now become current coaches, referees, and even parents of players.
Getting involved is easy and can be done in many different ways by all age groups. Referees can start at the age of 12 with the younger referees officiating the younger players.
“We’ve had some instances when we’ve had 16-year old kids being in control of a 14-year old game and handling it like an adult and doing a good job,” Milton said. “It’s just the posture and authority they take on the field. They’d be good dictators.”
Expansions to the facilities have improved the way soccer is taught and played in Williamson County, most notably the building of the indoor arena in 1999 and the opening of the west fields in 2004.
“It really helped us expand the way we were teaching soccer,” Anderson said. “It used to be that everyone played on the same size field.”
Now the complex features multiple size fields with younger age groups playing in smaller numbers on smaller fields.
“It’s just all about teaching touches on the ball and teaching the strategy of using your feet,” she said.
One of the biggest challenges the WCSA faces is educating everyone involved, including parents according to Milton.
“Most parents, or very few of the parents, can go home and teach their child how to dribble a ball correctly,” he said. “You have to make it a game for the kids. At the same time you’re teaching them skills.”
Anderson added that their goal is to teach valuable life lessons such as commitment and responsibility while still having fun in a stress-free environment.
“Soccer is just a great sport compared to some of the other sports,” she said. “It’s more of a team sport where even though you may not ever touch the ball you’re running up and down the field and you’re feeling like you’re part of it.”
Unknown to many in the area is that the United States is currently bidding to be the host nation for either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup and the WCSA is doing their part to secure Nashville as a host city.
The World Cup is the Olympics of soccer, being played every four years in a different country.
Players, coaches, parents, and anyone else involved with WCSA was encouraged to sign a petition to bring games to
Nashville at the associations picture day.
“What is better for your sport than to bring the best of the best to an area where your kids can actually go see it,” Anderson asked.
The signing matches perfectly with what the WCSA and its workers strive for: the best possible situation for young people to learn and enjoy the game of soccer. They have been doing such for the past 33 years and will most likely do so for 33 more.
Posted on: 10/7/2009