When a Tonopah couple and their kids moved to town from upstate New York about 18 months ago, they found the community had no youth soccer program. So they decided to start one. It’s a huge success as its second year gets going.
“I went to sign the kids up for school, and I asked them what the kids could do for sports, and they said they didn’t have anything,” Shari Bombard recalled. “Football wasn’t starting (yet), and they had nothing.”
“I went home, and I was cranky for a couple of days, and I decided I can either be cranky or do something about it. So I conned my husband into it,” Bombard said jokingly.
“My kids had played soccer back in New York so I talked him into it,” added Bombard, who had grown up in Tonopah.
In all, around 80 kids in kindergarten through fifth grade ended up taking part.
The program’s second year started Aug. 30 at the Joe Friel Sports Complex in Tonopah.
Adult volunteers led the effort. They serve as coaches and provide instruction to the youngsters. The program runs two evenings per week for an hour per session and includes instruction and soccer practices/scrimmages/games into late October. A $20 fee per child includes equipment such as soccer balls and nets and T-shirts.
“The majority of our coaches either played soccer, or they learned because they were willing to coach,” said Bombard, whose children are ages five and seven.
The Central Nevada Junior Grange service organization partnered with the Bombards to get the program started. The youth soccer became a program under Grange, an arrangement that continues this year.
“I don’t think Grange really would have gotten off the ground so fast if soccer had not been needed and pushing,” Central Nevada Grange secretary Deb Cobb said. “Soccer was our driving force. It was our first Grange program.”
Bombard’s husband Jay points to the Tonopah community’s enthusiasm for youth soccer.
“Last year, everybody really took to it,” he said. “I expected to have 35 kids through three different age groups. We ended up with 85 kids or something like that.”
“All of the parents were really nice,” he added. “A bunch of them donated soccer balls. Everybody started donating cleats, and the town really came together. It was really nice.”
Parents are enthusiastic about having youth soccer in Tonopah.
“I think it’s wonderful, a great opportunity,” said Chrissy Pope as her 8-year-old daughter, Harlee Wade, practiced with a soccer ball. It’s something Tonopah never had.”
Kathy Pope, Harlee’s grandmother, said: “Tonopah doesn’t have a whole lot for kids so whenever we can get kids involved it is great.”
Nearby at the Friel Complex, Henry Carballo practiced kicking the soccer ball with his two sons after the recent signups.
“We need sports for kids,” he said. “We need to get them (away) from PlayStation 3 and get them out.”
Shari Bombard looks forward to youth soccer’s second year.
“Last year was a success, but we kind of threw it together at the last minute,” Bombard said. “It was like ‘well, we’re doing this’, so we did it. This year I am hoping to do a lot more.”
Contact reporter David Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Tonopah youth soccer program, contact Shari Bombard at 518-926-8615.