Optimist Club hoping kids will storm the ‘Castle’|League forming for exceptional children

Published 5:11 pm Sunday, May 16, 2010

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Kids in Beaufort County obviously get a huge kick out of soccer. Nearly 500 kids participated in the Washington Optimist Club soccer league last year.
But there was a fraction of the community that was missing. Janice Coburn, president of the Washington Optimist Club, is hoping to remedy that this fall.
Coburn, who has been president of the club since 2006, came up with a wonderful idea to get more kids involved. The board members jumped at her idea.
The Club formed the Castle Soccer League, a league specifically designed for exceptional children. It will run in conjunction with the existing league.
“I’m thrilled about it,” a beaming Coburn said. “We are really excited about this. Having this exceptional soccer program will give the kids something structured and fun to do. It will fit right in with the program we already have.”
Flyers concerning the league have been sent to schools and more flyers will be delivered to local businesses closer to the fall.
The league, which will begin in the fall, is designed for kids ages 6-15 (actual age as of Sept. 1, 2010) with handicaps and disabilities.
It will be free of charge.
“We hope to have enough local sponsors to make this work,” Coburn said. “The club felt that the families of exceptional children already shoulder quite a burden of medical expenses, missed work due to doctor appointments or illnesses, along with a host of other expenses, so we’re really excited about making this available to everyone who wants to participate.”
Parents will be offered the opportunity to participate in the Soccer Raffle Fundraiser, if desired, to help with costs
Besides offering a good time, Coburn is hoping the kids will learn about soccer as well.
“We’ll be offering skills and drills, along with formal and informal games depending on skill level and ability,” Coburn said. “We will be able to design a more specific program once registrations start coming in.”
Once established, registration for the league can be completed at the Optimist Club web site, http://www.optimistclubwashington.org. Registration is not available just yet, but should be in the near future.
There is a Castle link on the web site now.
Those wanting more information on the league may call the Optimist soccer line at 944-5154.
The Optimist Club is looking for businesses or individuals to sponsor the league. The cost is $40 to sponsor a player or $250 to sponsor a team of eight.
Also, the club is looking for coaches, volunteers and soccer buddies. That way parents will be able to sit down and enjoy watching their kids play.
“Parents and caregivers will have the opportunity to sit on the sidelines and enjoy watching, or they are certainly welcome to take to the field with their child and participate,” Coburn said. “We will be soliciting local groups such as scouts, ball teams, law enforcement or any other professional group to serve as buddies.
“The buddy program will not only offer a break for parents or caregivers, but will also give others the opportunity to work with some really enthusiastic and exceptional children and give the kids the opportunity to make a new friend.”
Any organization or individual that would like to be a buddy for a player is asked to contact the optimistclub@gotricounty.com or at 944-5154. You may be a buddy for one Sunday afternoon or for the entire season.
The club came up with the Castle name and will have team names centered around the Castle theme.
“We wanted to distinguish this group from the rest of the group,” Coburn said. “We’ll have team names like the Dragons, the Knights, the Wizards, the Bishops and other castle themes.”
Games will be played on Sunday afternoons. The first games will be held Sept. 12. The six-week season will end Oct. 24.
It will be held at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex.
Coburn, who said she’s hoping to have 30 to 40 kids participate in the Castle Soccer League, brainstormed about how to form the league. She also went to Greenville to observe leagues for exceptional children.
“I went and visited a few games to see what it was all about and to get a feel for the dynamics of the program,” Coburn said. “It was exciting. The enthusiasm and excitement and smiles from the kids were absolutely contagious.
“I couldn’t wait to get back to Washington and give my sales pitch to the club. Immediately, everyone was on board. Our thoughts were that our motto is, ‘Friend of Youth,’ and we want to touch the lives of as many youth in Beaufort County as we can. This program will enable us to reach a very special part of the community that we’ve been missing.”
Coburn and the club members are enthusiastic about the new program.
And they can’t wait to see all the princes and princesses that will help form the Castle.