The installation of artificial turf in Mayville’s Kim Braaten Memorial Arena spurred indoor practice for high school and college baseball last spring.
This fall, it’s kick-started May- Port Soccer for kids in grades K-6. Harry Lipsiea was moving back to Mayville last summer and expressed interest in coaching and directing the program. He was involved in a local youth soccer program through fifth grade, instructed by a Mayville State professor, Rob Larson.
“When I was a kid, we had a program that was one of the more enjoyable experiences of my youth. I loved it,” Lipsiea said. “We stopped about fifth grade, so I feel I have about six years left of this.”
The question was how many kids would be interested? Lipsiea thought, “I hope we can get at least 60. If we get 80, that would be very good. If we get to 100, that would be amazing.”
Be amazed. The total who signed up hit 107, from Mayville, Portland, Hatton, Hillsboro, Northwood, and one from Leonard, N.D., who has a cousin in town. Fourth- through sixth-graders meet at the arena
at least twice a week after school. Grades K-3 gather Thursdays and Saturdays.
“You’re doing awesome,” Lipsiea says, encouraging more than two dozen seated on the turf before practice, “but you use your hands way too much.”
That means the first drill will be to put their hands behind their backs and use just their feet. The physical use of the knees and head to maneuver the ball will evolve much later.
“You see kids who really excel and some have never touched a soccer ball in their life,” said Megan Cole, one of four Mayville State University students who help Lipsiea instruct the youngsters. Also helping are Erika Henrikson, Alyssa Blair, and Orson Gallardo, a native of Honduras.
“I thrive off of their energy,” Cole said. “The older kids are a little smarter and a bit challenging, but it’s actually a lot of fun.”
There are rules to follow: no hands on the ball or each other.
“Take a step back and respect each other‘s space,” Cole tells them
During a 15-minute game comes chance to work on passing. Cole’s blow of a whistle means the kids playing defense have to freeze, and players on offense run to open spaces and alleys where the ball will be passed to.
Goalies are switched out. They may not make the diving, lunging saves seen on televised sports high- lights, but some of the youngsters already have keen reflexes for keep- ing the ball out of the net.
There’s usually enough kids to get two games going. The young- sters take water breaks. If they forget to bring some, Lipsiea makes sure they get some.
There is, however, a need for more soccer balls, or at least to have someone retrieve four or five stuck in the ceiling rafters. Control of the shot, as well as the ball, will come with time.
Soccer will have to make way for hockey after Oct. 17. Lipsiea says the turf makes the arena perfect for indoor soccer. He feels the program could eventually be a “feeder” for varsity soccer and other sports.
“Soccer is a very inclusive sport. Everybody can do it. You’re working on footwork, condition- ing, teamwork, passing,” Lipsiea expressed. “The more you can work on footwork for hockey, wrestling, basketball, baseball, whatever it is, the more prepared you’re going to be”
Aside from the fundamentals is the fun. At the end of practice, the kids huddle for a united shout of “May-Port Soccer!”
The kids are great to work with. The coaches get to play and be in- volved,“ Lipsiea said. “It’s a blast to be a part of, no doubt about it.”
A special thanks to the Traill County Tribune for the use of this article.