Season gets a kick start at Lutherville-Timonium's Soccer Day

Sunshine and mild temperatures cooperated — for most of the day, at least — as the Lutherville Timonium Recreation Council celebrated its annual LTRC Soccer Day on Sept. 8.

The event, held at Ridgely Middle School fields and including practice games, clinics, concessions, photos and general festivities, is held each year to kick off the rec council soccer year, and players from some 116 teams took part in the daylong festivities on Saturday.

"It's a zoo," said Michele German, a rec council official and soccer mom. "The season starts up next Saturday (Sept. 15), so it's just a fun day."

German said the start of a new season had special meaning for many, as the council dedicated the 2012 Soccer Day to Stacey Del Bene, a longtime treasurer of the LTRC, who died this year of breast cancer. German said Del Bene has four children, one of whom is still in the travel program.

Board members decided to wear pink shirts in her honor.

The day also includes the council's annual awarding of the Jan Hebble Awards — named for a longtime stalwart of the LTRC program who died years ago from melanoma. The awards are presented to one girl and one boy who have graduated from the LTRC program, and recognize sportsmanship and overall play.

One of the awards went to Helen Spiller, currently a freshman at McDonogh School who is junior varsity soccer this year.

She played four years with LTRC's in-house program, then moved to a travel team coached by Scott Liotta and Rick Sawicki. Liotta called her a "great kid, very considerate, awesome teammate."

The male recipient was Matthew Katz, who played on the LTRC United travel soccer team for five years. He was coached by coached by Greg French and Randy Dase.

In his nomination, French said Katz, "showed up for every practice and every game ready to go, always with a smile on his face, and always giving his absolute best whether it was practice or a game. He always played with intensity, and was a leader on our team."

The Hebble awards were a surprise for the two recipients — they had been asked to come under the pretense that they would help out for the day, and showed up to volunteer to help younger kids with games.

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