Clarion River Valley Strikers U-12 Teams Host Four Teams For First Friday Night Lights..Soccer Style (10/20/15)
(By Matt Lerch)
The Clarion River Valley Strikers U12 Boys and U12 Girls teams hosted Oil City, Grove City and 2 Mercer teams on Friday October 16th, 2015 for the first Friday Night Lights tournament ever to be held by the Strikers organization.
Clarion County Park is home turf for the Strikers and the U12 teams are only 2 of the current 5 Strikers teams that play in Clarion. The Strikers are members of the Lake Division of the highly competitive PA West Soccer Association. PA West Soccer is part of US Youth Soccer, Region One and is associated with US Soccer and FIFA.
With growth of the organization throughout the years from its beginnings in 2009, the Strikers usually field more teams in the Spring than in the Fall, the largest being 7 teams last year. Many local clubs have tournaments set as fundraisers that center around something unique to the area. The idea was born by current Strikers President, Marcus Bingham, who asked the question “What do we have that is unique to our fields?” The resounding answer was “LIGHTS!”
With many Strikers families spending the spring and fall at the Clarion County Park in the evenings playing soccer and many Saturdays with their children playing YMCA soccer a the park as well, the question kept coming up why don’t we use these lights?
The lights at Clarion County Park had not been used in many years and the question of whether the lights worked or not had to be answered. With the help of the Clarion County Commissioners, the Strikers were given the green light to test the equipment and not one bulb was burned out during testing. The decision by the board was to move ahead with an abridged tournament with a few local teams. This was in anticipation if the idea worked and was a success, the door would be open for a much larger tournament in the spring.
The Friday Night Lights Tournament was won by an experienced and mature Grove City team, followed by a tie for second between the Clarion Boys and Oil City. The Clarion Girls came in 4th with the Mercer teams coming 5th and 6th.
The referees Kelly Beveridge, Wendy Beveridge, Jenna Miller, Lauren Troutman, Beau Verdill, Ryker and Marcus Bingham, are to be commended for their work over 4 hours of straight soccer in driving wind, rain and sleet. Commissioner Greg Faller was on hand to help as well, cheering on the Clarion teams and helping with breakdown of the concessions, windbreak tarps, canopy tents, collapsible benches, music and lighting.
The concept worked to perfection and the Strikers organization is already beginning to plan for a larger event for Spring 2016.
(Thanks to Matt Lerch for this article and photos.)