Alumni praise new playing fields


A sampling of opinions about the Soccer Association of Columbia-Howard County's new field complex from coaches who grew up playing in the same organization:

Clint Peay, the club's most successful alumnus, with county titles at Oakland Mills High School, four NCAA titles at the University of Virginia, three major league soccer championship rings and a spot on the 1998 U.S. Olympic men's team. He now coaches an under-15 girls travel team:

"It's going to be great to have a complex to call home. It's good for soccer and good for the development of youth players, because there are no more excuses. Kids can go out and play soccer without worrying about grass that's too long, or mud holes, or fields that are too short or narrow. It's going to help."

Greg Wright, who coaches an under-10 girls team, calls himself "just another Joe" who played for SAC-HC and then at Hammond High, from which he graduated in 1987:

"For at least 10 years, soccer clubs all over the country have been adding facilities like this, and it's so nice to have one now that's local. It sets the club apart, and it's going to be a huge recruiting tool for us, too - a way to get and keep really good players."

Ben Flyr, 37, who graduated from Wilde Lake High in 1985. He has coached soccer since he was 20, and leads an under-11 boys travel team and a rec-level team:

"I remember playing in a Christmas tournament in Florida when I was about 12. We'd never seen fields so good. The ball went where you kicked it. And that's what it's going to be like here now. It makes such a difference in the game, even when you're young and just learning.

"When all of the guys my age were playing, you could count on bare spots in front of the goals and in the middle of the field. Now, with a dedicated complex, we won't have to deal with that. It's great."

Rick Cantore, who coaches under-14 boys and under-11 girls travel teams, after competing at Centennial High (Class of 1981), University of North Carolina, Wilmington and University of Maryland, Baltimore County:

"I am so excited, both as a coach and as a former player. We grew up playing on such subpar surfaces for soccer, although that may actually have worked to our advantage sometimes. But I tell my players they're really fortunate, because this complex is going to really help us raise our playing level even more.

"I wish I were 14 right now, not 40."

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