ST. GEORGE — This time of year, soccer players, coaches and fans are looking for some good weather and some open fields to shake the rust of a long winter off and southern Utah provides a little bit of both.
The Ice Breaker Soccer Tournament, held at Staheli Family Farm 3400 Washington Fields Road in Washington City, began on Saturday and continued all day on Monday. The tournament attracted 200 teams, mostly from northern Utah and surrounding states.
The Ice Breaker tournament included boys and girls ages 9-18. It was a non-sanctioned tournament, meaning that the event was not sponsored by the Southern Utah Soccer Association or any other soccer association.
The tournament director and organizer is Rob Horn from Riverton, Utah, who took over the event in 2008. The tourney has been held at Staheli Farm for three years and has grown from 70 teams six years ago to 200 teams this year, Horn said. “The nice thing about this venue is it is all in one location, the field conditions could be a little better, but for the most part it’s nice,” he said.
In addition to about 10 teams from southern Utah, Horn estimates that 95 percent of the teams are from out-of-town, coming from Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and northern Utah.
Of all sports, soccer has the largest number of participants in southern Utah and all of Utah and it’s the fastest growing sport, Washington City soccer mom Melanie Stephens said. There were 300 new participants that signed up for various soccer teams in Washington County between the spring and fall seasons last year, she said.
Stephens who has four sons, three of whom play soccer, was at the tournament watching her 10-year-old son compete. Soccer is appealing to many families because it is one of the cheapest sports to participate in, with registration fees of about $80 compared to about $500 for football, Stephens said. She credits soccer and other sports for helping her kids maintain good grades and keeping them active and out of trouble.
Amanda Brown, 38 of Draper, was at the tournament for the first time watching her 10-year-old daughter Sadie compete with team Chaos. Brown was a little concerned about the field being uneven with some holes and the girls have fallen more than normal, she said. Brown estimates that they would normally spend $800-$1000 in lodging and food for the trip to St. George to attend this type of event.
Jesse and Heidi Conway from Spanish Fork were at the tournament to watch their 11-year-old son Matthew compete. They are also here to watch their 13-year-old son Noah compete in baseball. The Conway’s like the fact that the soccer tournament is all in one place, whereas baseball is in several different venues. “The fields are a little more uneven than we are used to, it gives the boys a chance to have a little character, to run and dodge the cow pucky’s,” he said.
Ned Heaton, 39 of St. George was at the tournament to watch his 10-year-old son Bridger compete with team Fire FC. Heaton, who has also coached soccer, said the venue for the tournament is the best option that they have right now. “St. George has just never promoted soccer. I think they are in love with baseball, so whoever makes the decisions is not a soccer person,” he said.
Jenny Corbett from Salt Lake City, has two daughters, age 10 and 13 competing. In addition to the tournament, she has enjoyed getting together with her parents and family members who came from California. Although the field is a “little rough,” Corbett has enjoyed the event and the get-a-way to St. George for the weekend.
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