It’s been nearly a year since returning to my ‘roots’ of life; Northwest Missouri. It’ been a strange realization and adjustment to life surrounded by corn, cows, and everything ‘natural’. After literally taking this long to finally get organized with life, and try to understand ‘what is next’, I took today; this hot, humid Missouri afternoon and my beloved Adidas ball, my new cleats, and a lovely pair of sunglasses; and paid homage to my growing grounds, my soccer field.
Down County Line Road
Just off of US 169 Highway prior to ‘pulling into town’
Past the aged sign
Over the crumbling bridge
There lied my field…what was left of it.
I started playing soccer in this small community in 1993, and didn’t stop until 2001. These fields I rode my bike three blocks to every other day, and countless Saturday’s. I decked a kid from Smithville, sprained an wrist versus Platte City, and won the “city” gold for our undefeated U-8 team. It was my security, my safety, it was my original home.
As I walked along the fields, trying to see what was left of them; I noted a new gravel parking lot; weeds growing up through the rocks.
The fence between the fields and the creek had been torn down, rusted, and covered with growing weed.
The nets were falling off of the top of the goal posts for the U-11 fields, and the U-6 and U-8 goals desperately need repainted. The U-11 goals were partially dismantled and what wasn’t had almost rusted apart. Three shots on goal I broke three clips along the netting. The ground was not longer even, and slanted well over 3 degrees towards the north side of the field. Three rusted, empty frames were hidden along the underbrush near the creek bed 10 feet below the fields themselves. There was no grass, just dirt and clover fields. The lines were visible, but had been poorly drawn, and in some areas were not even connected.
Finally, what put the nail in the coffin was seeing that the people that had mowed the fields, wouldn’t even move the goals to mow around. The weeds within the U-11 goals had grown at least two, if not three feet up the netting of the respective goals.
How can this be a ‘nice place to call home’?
As I was out on a daily run two days ago, I was running past the baseball/softball fields in the community, and I saw all these fathers out there with these tiny kids, pitching the balls to them, parents passionately awaiting their young one to be the next Babe Ruth, Micky Mantel, and the likes of others. The new sod/dirt mix is being laid along the two fields, and frankly; for the small town the baseball/softball fields have truly come to life [please let me know if their local high school baseball team decides to do the same].
All the mean while, only the breeze through the trees could be heard along the complex on County Line Road.
I returned to my roots, seeking a dream, creating a destiny, and encouraging any community to walk with me in the determination and future of building a magnificent dream with the Kansas City Shock and the WPSLKC.
How could my own hometown betray me?
I understand that for reason of argument, the softball/baseball/football fields are maintained for the sole purpose of revenue, primarily off of the high school programs that occupy each respectively.
I also understand that the administration looked at me, while a senior in high school, and said, “Soccer will never be a high school sport in this district.”
You’re right, what player who dares to be different, dreams above and beyond would want to set foot in that land mine we refer to as a ‘soccer complex’.
I’m afraid that it has gotten to the point that the teams that are of my hometown will only play in the fields in the city north of us [which aren’t amazing by any means].
Call me a modern ‘yuppy’, but last I checked; you can be just as profitable, and run a stricter budget at a local level for high school athletics by running women’s soccer, compared to the equipment and field costs of softball [as example], and I can speak from coaching both at such a level.
There really is no professionalism in this post today, merely a broken heart, and discouraged soul. In a country where we consistently struggle to place women’s soccer on the map; individuals like myself wake up each morning to the realization of, “You want the world to care? Your own backyard doesn’t care.” In a location not even twenty miles from a women’s state soccer powerhouse, and it is in a public school location. Yet, we dare not get involved in those kind of ‘city’ activities.
I do fear that the Friday Night lights will forever shine in the south part of this humble village. County Line Road will continue to be a element of what was, not necessarily what is.
And for those parents who are content with these fields being ideal for their sons and daughters; I’ve been out in the ‘world’, I’ve seen soccer complexes, both large and small [funding].
You. Deserve. Better.
We. Deserve. Better.
They. Deserve. Better.
Editors Note: Due to small town establishments, I would like to make clear that this piece was not designated towards the preemptive demise of softball, baseball, or football; as all sports have a specific history and niche within this community. My only thought is merely, “Why just them?”