The Edmond Sun

June 21, 2013

Wantland Stadium deluged with soccer enthusiasts

Scott Wanish
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — When it was said some 15,000 people were to descend upon Edmond for the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Championships, they weren’t kidding.

With all of Wantland Stadium’s shaded seats crammed on the west side of the field, spectators of the opening ceremony Thursday afternoon resorted to bidding for spots atop the grassy berm, seeking relief from the sun in the shade of fencing.

An estimated 8,000 were on hand, gearing up to kick off the regional tournament with competition beginning this morning at the Blake-Service Soccer Complex on Danforth just west of Kelly. The tourney will run June 21-27.

The athletes took the brunt of the Oklahoma sun, as they were introduced by state in alphabetical order (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, which was split into north and south regions) with the exception of host Oklahoma, marching in from the south end of the stadium to the north last.

The soccer players sat on the sun-drenched turf for the entirety of the festivities.

Master of ceremonies Ed Murray stated that a large group of volunteers has been working since 2011 attempting to make this week pleasant for everyone involved.

A prayer was given, the National Anthem played, a moment of silence taken for Oklahoma’s tornado victims and Oklahoma City-based Feed the Children was on hand attempting to raise money for storm victims in need.

The U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides more than 10,000 teams from U.S. Youth Soccer’s 55 state associations the opportunity to showcase their abilities against the best in the nation while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play.

The year-long competition begins with more than 185,000 players in the U.S. Youth Soccer state championships. These champions and selected wildcard teams, through U.S. Youth Soccer regional leagues, advance to compete in one of four U.S. Youth Soccer regional championships. Champions (U-13 through U-19) from each regional event advance to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.