SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


It's not built.. AND THEY'RE ALREADY HERE!
By Beau Poppen-Abajian


December 21, 2007
Friday AM

I've never before written on SitNews and have to be honest and say I rarely keep up with Ketchikan happenings or discussions. Back from college I thought it was appropriate to check on what was being talked about and where better to go than here.

I want to put in some input on the turf field debate since it was the one thing I always wanted in Ketchikan growing up and always had to go without. In particular, I'd love to respond to Mr. Johnson's comment about there being no need for a modern field in Ketchikan.

1) Unfortunately, many things in Ketchikan have fallen behind the times. The lack of an appropriate field for soccer, as well as other outdoors sports, is one of them. For decades Ketchikan has had both recreational and competitive soccer. Yes, Ketchikan does have competitive soccer. It even competes with Juneau. To me, saying that Ketchikan players shouldn't have an appropriate field because they can't compete with soccer powerhouses like Juneau is like saying the Great Alaska Shootout shouldn't take place because AAU gets pounded by huge schools like Texas Tech. If anyone is talking about soccer competition between Ketchikan and Juneau I'm sure they know that Juneau's high school team has been several times been ranked nationally, so I feel it's hardly fair to compare the two programs.

2) I don't know how many hundreds of thousand dollar projects has been funded by raffle tickets, but my guess is that it's zero. A turf soccer field is not something that can be created through car washes and pasta feeds. There has been an effort on the parts of many avid soccer enthusiasts to get funding from outside sources and as of yet it hasn't worked. There's a rumor that there was a grant to build a soccer specific turf field in Ketchikan that had to be declined because the Borough was not willing to offer the space. No other sport is required to pay for it's own playing field, why would it be any different for soccer? High school soccer players, parents and coaches already do numerous fundraisers year-long just to be able to afford to travel to play games. As much work goes into playing games as it does to getting there. No one complains. But, I think asking kids to spend their entire lives fundraising to pay for a field is a little excessive. Team spirit is a great concept, but let's try and apply it to beating our opponents, like Juneau.

3) As a fan of all Ketchikan and Kayhi athletics, I don't like to argue who is the best in their respective sport. The achievements of last years softball team are impressive. I do struggle to remember the last time any other Kayhi sport team- outside basketball- won southeast... Yes, all the teams play on less than ideal fields. The difference is that baseball and softball teams all over southeast play on the same kind of fields. Juneau football and soccer play their games on a great TURF field. I wonder if there's any correlation with this and these teams dominating state, or if it's just their large population? I suppose we'll never know until we have a turf field for our young football and soccer stars.
4) Let's try and remember that there are more than just high school competitive sports. Here, the Ketchikan must beat Juneau idea becomes a little intense. As well as being for football, track and field, events etc, the field is for recreational soccer as well as competitive. There is no age requirement for a turf field. I'm sure there's many long-time Ketchikan residents who have been dying to try out soccer but have been too scared of the bad wheel causing them to fall on gravel. Problem solved. Kids leagues, adult leagues, summer tournaments and sack races are all possible. A turf field is beautiful, but it also opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.

The fact is, Juneau has a school three times our size with, presumably, three times the number of athletes. Ketchikan struggles to provide athletes for all its sports and the newest sports like football and soccer just happen to get shorted (that doesn't stop the soccer program from sending many numerous players on college scholarship). Maybe a turf field will help tap into the talent pool and inspire those couch potatoes to get involved without them having to worry about getting three layers of skin torn off by gravel. Soccer on gravel, what a concept.

Would you wait for a baseball team to get good before you give them baseball gloves? Personally, I don't think that's the best approach. But, if that's what must happen in order to get a turf field, then I think it's time Ketchikan gets one. Soccer has long since arrived in Ketchikan and regardless if it's at the caliber to beat Juneau consistently, there are at least hundreds of brave young people who are willing to go try their hardest, rain or shine, gravel or turf. But, if they must lose, they'd love to lose in style, on soft turf.

If you'd like to help the soccer team Mr. Johnson, or anyone else, I believe they are currently selling coupon books at a great price!

Beau Poppen-Abajian
Tacoma, WA

About: "Lifelong resident of the great city of Ketchikan, now attending school out of state. Former member of varsity x-country, basketball and soccer."

Received December 20, 2007 - Published December 21, 2007

Related Viewpoint:

letter If you build it . . . . they won't come! By Billy Johnson

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