By Ashley Ferraro
Youth sports are the backbone of our local community. Parkland and Coral Springs soccer have, for a long time, provided an outlet for both children and parents to come together in the spirit of fun and friendship. This year’s season has obviously been a bit different than years past, as the COVID-19 pandemic has posed hurdles to all parties involved, including organizers, coaches, parents, and of course, the kids. However, with challenges come opportunities to rise above and make a difference, which is exactly what these leagues have done.
According to the president of the Coral Springs Soccer league, Steve Cimaglia, everyone has been handling COVID obstacles exceptionally well. One example of an innovative adaptation made this season in particular was the drive-thru uniform pickups that the coaches organized for their players. In the past, uniform pickups weren’t exactly a socially distanced event. However, having parents be able to take their children to safely retrieve their uniforms was a major key to prioritizing health and safety this year.
“The season is going very well! COVID protocols are in place for all the coaches, parents, and players,” says Wanda Fuentes, a Coral Springs Soccer board member and coach. “We are just happy to be providing this opportunity for kids to be out playing and exercising and being part of the community. We’re all looking forward to finishing off this season on a high note.”
Adhering to COVID protocol, all referees, coaches, and spectators must wear masks during practices and games. The children are only allowed to remove their masks while they are actively playing. Of course, activities like huddles, high-fives, tunnels, and sharing drinks and snacks had to be put to a halt this season. Players have learned to practice contactless sportsmanship, and most have gotten pretty great at it.
Recently, the Parkland Soccer community suffered the tragic loss of Pete Gado, who founded the league more than three decades ago. With the help of the community, he was able to take Parkland Soccer from practicing and playing on a pasture to the spectacular fields at Pine Trails Park. Pete dedicated his life to the league and was actively involved in its daily operations until his unexpected passing. Doug Cole, the president of Parkland Soccer, mentions that the league already has plans to honor Pete’s legacy with a memorial at the park.
Both soccer leagues hit the field back in November. As expected, they saw less of a participant turnout than in previous years. Despite this shift, spirits have been higher than ever. The parents, coaches, and players continue to abide by the standards in line with government-issued directives. The youth soccer teams are looking forward to finishing off another successful season as they approach the playoffs, thanks to the hard work of the organizers and the positive attitudes of the kids.