SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Soccer's Misconceptions
By Connor Pihl


December 21, 2007
Friday AM

As a college student away nine months out of the year, I am continually thankful for a resource such as Sitnews that enables me to stay current in all things Ketchikan. When I first saw the topic of a new turf athletic field in the list of viewpoints I was ecstatic that the community was possibly closing ground on such a promising development; reading further my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. As an idea for a community recreation project turned into emotional argument against the soccer community, my ability to refrain from this discussion was dissolved. I would like to first commend Kay Jones and Bill Harney for providing extensive factual information on KYSL's and the rest of the soccer community's involvement in efforts to secure a new multi-purpose turf athletic field. As a past-participant of youth baseball, basketball, soccer, the Kayhi Soccer, Basketball, and Swimming programs I hope that my insight as a promoter of all athletics may clear up any misconceptions left of the Ketchikan soccer community's FACILITIES, INVOLVEMENT, SUCCESS, and CONTRIBUTION.

Aside from obvious safety concerns pointed out by numerous viewpoint authors, numerous reasons confirm that the athletic facilities we offer our soccer and football athletes can no longer go without remedy. Soccer is a game determined by the surface that it is played upon- the surface determines the direction, speed, and reception of the ball, or in a gravel with standing water field's case, the lack there-of. I had the opportunity to take part in many soccer activities which allowed me to travel near and far for training and competition and can attest that Ketchikan's facilities are by far the worst I have come across. My development as a soccer player could not have progressed like it did if I did not have these opportunities to play on quality surfaces, and as opportunities like I enjoyed are not available to all participants it leaves me disheartened that we are producing athletes short of their true ability. Any soccer player would agree that though the sport can be played on nearly any surface, in order to compete at a high level quality conditions must be secured. A new turf field represents conditions that will allow our young athletes reach their full potential.

The Ketchikan soccer playing community is a vast and diverse population that has always found ways to enjoy the sport in less than ideal conditions. KYSL, Kayhi soccer, and adult recreational soccer (know as drop-in to regular participants) have, and continue to enjoy large community participation. Currently, more than twenty-five athletes ranging from 12-50+ in age show up each Saturday from 7:00-8:45 AM to enjoy "drop-in" indoor soccer at the Rec-center- the only time the group was allowed. I am not making the argument that field time, allocation of funds for facility improvement, or any other resource should be proportional to involvement, but this example displays that more needs to be done to promote fair use of our community s resources.

Unlike the "lack of success" some viewpoints attempt to argue, Kayhi Soccer boys and girl's programs have enjoyed great success over their history as Alaska 4A High School Athletics participants. While regional competition against Juneau-Douglas High School, the yearly favorite for the state championship, has yielded only one victory (2003 Boys), it is not a fair indicator of the talent that both sides posses. This comparison is about as fair as looking at Kayhi basketball's modern record against perennial state championship favorites such as Bartlett High School or West High School. In yearly competition in the Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula area, Kayhi soccer teams have established a history of dominating opponents and command great respect in the areas. It is a sad fact though that the Ketchikan community has not had the chance to see either program face teams from these areas as they are reluctant to pay high travel costs to compete on a poor field where the risk of injury is many times too high for most coaches. The Kayhi softball team, who won a "small school" state championship last year competing both against teams from these same areas in discussion and free of Juneau's dominance (Juneau competed in the "large-school" championship), is an example of the success that the Kayhi soccer programs could generate if they too were able to compete without the burden of facing only Juneau in regional competition. This success I may add, has been achieved without the existence of a Select-Club program (the equivalent to a youth all-star program, which would allow the best young players to train and play together to develop team chemistry and compete at the state, regional, and national level) that all other major Alaskan cities posses.

Aside from providing a healthy, fun, and an all-inclusive recreational opportunity to Ketchikan's youth, Soccer has provided many athletes with a college education. More than in other athletic program by far in recent history, Kayhi soccer has graduated athletes that go on to continue their career at the collegiate level. To my knowledge no less than six student-athletes in the past four years, myself included, have been rewarded with athletic scholarships- some at the NCAA Division 1 level- as a result of the achievements of the Kayhi Soccer programs and their individual success. Taylor Jones, a 2002-2003 Kayhi graduate and collegiate soccer participant was also invited to attend a professional combine last year.

I have attempted to limit my discussion through the four topics, but would like to point out they offer only a highlight of my thoughts and concerns on the topic. I m deeply saddened that some who have offered their opinions feel as if soccer is trying to monopolize all the community s resources , is greedy and begging for money , cant put out a competitive team , or that some hierarchal organization of athletics where Basketball is still king exits. I do not know where they came by inaccurate information or why they feel the way they do, but again thank you to all those who have helped clear up these unfortunate misconceptions. It is my only hope that we as a community will make choices to improve the athletic facilities we offer no matter what the sport. Conclusively, if anyone feels the vast array of viewpoints on the topic are insufficient I would be happy to elaborate on my soccer experiences.

Connor Pihl
Ketchikan, AK

About: "2006 Kayhi graduate. Is currently a sophmore at Santa Clara University."

Received December 21, 2007 - Published December 21, 2007


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