May 09, 2012 - Atlas Twp.- On Saturday morning the rain finally stopped just in time to kick off a new era of local sports.
Atlas Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones with GSC members Harry Flotemersch and Rick Kurkechian at the new township soccer fields. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
Coaches, parents and players, along with township officials, gathered for the first game on the Goodrich Soccer Club field adjacent to the Goodrich Middle School.
In January 2010 representatives of the GSC, now a division of Michigan State Youth Soccer Association, a not-for-profit local group consisting of about 300 area youth players plus a number of parents and coaches, presented a conceptual plan to the township board of trustees. The board OK'd a 10-year lease for a soccer field, utilizing about an acre-and-a-half of approximately 11 acres of township land east of the hall with frontage on Gale Road. The decision marks the first township use of property for recreational use.
"We now have more fields," said Rick Kurkechian, GSC fields coordinator, who spearheaded the project for the club. "We can be more things to more people. Parents, coaches and especially the township stepped up, making this happen."
The 200-foot-by-350-foot field will be home to four to six area travel soccer teams to accommodate the 9 to12-year-old players with parking at the Goodrich Middle School.
"A major advantage now is we can allow fields to rest for a year—that gives the sod a chance to recover, improving the field," he said.
Kurkechian referred to advice from the late Goodrich Athletic Director Al Martus with regard to fields.
"Al mentored me on how to care for a soccer field—take it from an AD."
The GSC funded the project through fees charged players in addition to fundraisers of pizza sales and volunteer efforts during the summers. The project's estimated cost was between $5,000 and $10,000, which included extensive tree cutting. Excavation was partially funded by township-based Johnson and Sons Excavation. Grass seed was planted around Labor Day 2010.
"Parents and other volunteers worked at the final years of the Buick Open Golf Tournament—they donated several thousand dollars to the project. Thanks to many, the fields look great and we hope to next raise more money for drain tile, on both sides of the field. There is still a need for volunteers, coaches and, of course, parents with youth that want to play soccer."
The additional soccer fields will also allow Goodrich High School to host tournaments.
"We welcome the public to stop by and check out a game or two on Saturdays and Sundays—it's a tribute to hard work and community commitment."
Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman -Jones attended the first game on Saturday.
"It's a win-win situation," said Kautman-Jones.
"The 11 acres of property owned by the township is finally getting some good use for the community. We congratulate the GSA on their achievment and wish them the best in the future."