BRUNSWICK – The city’s parks department is set to sign an agreement with the Brunswick Soccer Association calling for a 10-year lease agreement at Hopkins Park to conduct both the city’s recreational and travel soccer programs.
John Piepsny, the city’s director of parks and recreation, told city council last month that the Brunswick Youth Soccer Association, which has traditionally organized the city’s youth rec-league soccer association, and the Brunswick Soccer Association, which has been responsible for the city’s youth soccer travel league, elected to merge into one organization this summer in an attempt to produce the best possible soccer program in the city.
According to BSA President Julius Bohrer, one organization will now oversee both rec and travel youth soccer programming under the BSA name.
Though the two organizations have reached an agreement, Bohrer said the organizations will continue to operate independently for the upcoming fall and spring soccer seasons, allowing time for a seamless transition.
Bohrer said the idea behind the merger is to expand and improve the city’s youth soccer program. Currently, he said, the city’s travel league oversees approximately 200 players between the ages of eight and 14, while the city’s rec league has roughly 500 players in its program.
Compared to surrounding communities, he said, those numbers are low, especially given the fact that Brunswick is the largest city in Medina County.
“The city of Medina, for example, has over 2,000 kids in its program and there’s no reason we can’t have just as may kids involved as they do,” Bohrer said, noting he believes that having two soccer associations in the city often confuses residents.
In addition to serving as the feeder program for both Brunswick High School’s boys and girls soccer teams, Bohrer said that by merging, BSA is hoping to pull more talented players from the rec league to play on the city’s travel teams.
“We’re going to continue using the high school students and coaches to help train these teams and hopefully expand the program,” he said.
Melissa Keller, president of the Brunswick Youth Soccer Association, agrees, saying both organizations are “seeing eye to eye” and believes that the merger will enable players in both programs to succeed at a higher level.
By agreeing to a 10-year lease of Hopkins Park, which can be accessed via Diana Drive and Laurel Road, BSA is hoping to combine their funding to facilitate future improvements at the park.
“We’d like to put some money into the park and build up the fields,” Bohrer said, adding that ideally, the organization would like to expand the park to the east on vacant property the city currently owns.
Bohrer said the organization would again like to play host to regional tournaments the way it did until two years ago.
“But more than anything, this is about both organizations doing more together and teaching the kids on a more personal level,” he said.