Peg Brown, left, and Judy Gruver, walk around the trail of the Albert Haller Playfields on Monday morning. This weekend, the playfields host their first tournament, The Dungeness Cup. Sequim Gazette by Matthew Nash
For Craig Stevenson, the impact of the select soccer scene hit home on a personal level after taking his children to tournaments across Western Washington.
This weekend, Stevenson and other Sequim families won’t have to leave town to take on the region’s top soccer squads.
This weekend, the Dungeness Cup brings about 30 select youth soccer teams to the newly finished Albert Haller Playfields between the City of Sequim Water Reuse facility and Carrie Blake Park.
“There’s a whole cottage industry (and) Sequim has never had a toe in that water,” Stevenson told a crowd at the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce in July.
“The fields are ready to go.”
It took plenty of effort from Sequim Family Advocates — a grassroots organization whose first major project is this one — along with a key agreement with the City of Sequim plus funding and donated labor from the community at large to make it all happen.
After securing use of the previously unused fields through an agreement from the city and Department of Ecology, Sequim Family Advocates worked for the better part of two years to prep the fields for such a tournament.
Last summer, Stevenson recalled, saw youths and parents picking up “Sequim potatoes” (rocks) to clear the way for the six full-length youth fields now ready for use.
The effort to establish the multi-use fields came about after parents saw Sequim School District lands degraded thanks to heavy use. That spurred Sequim Family Advocates to form.
Now, all that work comes to fruition, as teams from Marysville, Kitsap County, Bellevue and Bainbridge Island, along with local peninsula squads, compete on the new fields. The tourney is a Washington State Youth Soccer-sanctioned event.
“People are excited to come this way,” said Ken Garling, Sequim Junior Soccer president.
Garling, a father of three soccer players himself, said the tourney will feature teams from U-11 (9- and 10-year-olds) up to U-16 (14- and 15-year-olds).
Stevenson noted that while Sequim schools’ fields will benefit in the long run thanks to less playing use, local businesses will benefit immediately. Families often stay for multiple days during similar tournaments, bringing family and friends — and their tourist dollars — with them.
“What we’re finding is that coaches are so grateful,” Stevenson said. “They’re excited to come to Sequim and check out the peninsula.”
With teams still finalizing their trip to Sequim, Stevenson said about 30 teams participating is right on target with what organizers wanted.
“It’s the perfect size for an inaugural tournament,” he said.
In January, The Sequim City Council approved $14,950 (minus any funds from an Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission grant) for the first youth soccer tournament. Costs incurred include building a website, developing a logo, hiring a director, referee training and marketing.
After $5,000 in grant money came in, the city’s price tag fell to $9,950.
Sequim Family Advocates has contractual responsibility to be the scheduling agent for Albert Haller Playfields.
The community group has to maintain at least a 50-percent availability of the field for activities other than SFA events.
The fields look to see plenty of action in late August as the Sequim Junior Soccer seasons kick off on Aug. 20.
For more information, visit http://www.dungenesscup.com.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.