Youth camp helps fund Apollo-Ridge girls soccer team
By: Jerin Steele
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 | 5:48 PM
Last week, the Apollo-Ridge girls soccer team held its fifth annual youth skills camp, which has become a benefit not only for the future of the program, but the present, as well.
The skills camp is one of the fundraisers for the Vikings, who are not sponsored by the school district and participate in the WPIAL as a club team.
The program, which is entering its sixth season, hosts or participates in events nearly year round to raise the necessary funds to be sustainable every year.
Being a club without school support is rare for a soccer team in the WPIAL, but the Vikings get a sense of satisfaction for doing it on their terms.
“It helps us get closer to the community, which is important to me,” incoming senior Maycen Anthony said. “With our school being small we’re already a close community, but having fundraisers gives us an opportunity to be closer than maybe some other teams.”
Approximately 30 youth players from four school districts — Kiski Area, Apollo-Ridge, Saltsburg and Leechburg — participated in the skills camp. The Vikings will have some freshmen on their team this fall who participated in the first camp. Getting the opportunity to help the younger generation is something Anthony enjoys.
“Whenever I was little I had the (Kiski Area Soccer League), but we didn’t have anything with soccer with the high school,” Anthony said. “It’s good to know that we are showing new things to these kids. They hand out fliers for KASL, but it can be hard to get into and some of them don’t know what to expect, so this gives those kids an idea what it’s like to play soccer.”
Aside from the skills camp, other fundraisers include having players wait and bus tables at the Kiski Township fire hall’s Lenten fish fry and a back-to-school barbeque. This year’s barbeque is 4 p.m. Aug. 17 at Kiski Township fire hall. The event has food and drinks, gift baskets donated by local businesses and a cornhole tournament.
The funds raised help pay for equipment, buses for road games, referee fees and rental fees for the use of Owens Field in Apollo for home games among other expenses.
Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Ross first approached the school board about starting a girls soccer program six years ago when he was asked by his daughter Elizabeth and her friend Breanna Murray about playing in high school.
“At the time I thought we may eventually be picked up by the school and sponsored, but that just never happened,” Ross said. “I don’t really even inquire about it anymore. I think we figured out that it’s not a bad thing to have a little independence.”
Ross credited the willingness of parents to go above and beyond to help the program.
“What keeps it going is that we have a really good group of parents that participate and come to the meetings,” Ross said. “They want to see the program succeed. We started with a pretty good group, and it seemed like each one of them had two younger sisters, so some of the same people have been active in the program all along.”
Not only has the club done a good job sustaining itself, but they’ve been competitive on the field. The Vikings have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons. Anthony said working together off the field has helped with chemistry.
“(Playing for) a club motivates me a lot more because I want to our team to prove people wrong,” Anthony said. “Other teams might not expect much from us because we are a club, but when we get on the field and try our hardest it’s pretty cool to see the reactions when we’re successful.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer