• Bill Caine, Contributing Writer

WYSA looks to the future

For nearly 40 years, the Woodford Youth Soccer Association has been providing quality soccer to families in Woodford County. The local league, which averages an annual enrollment of roughly 500 players has become a part of multiple generations. "We have seen many players from years ago coming back to us having their kids play, and some of them have signed up to be coaches," said Executive Director Rock Vance. The recreational portion of the league is mainly Woodford residents, but the league is open to surrounding counties. "In the past, we have had players from many neighboring counties come to play club soccer with us," said Vance. With many communities growing the game of soccer in their respective towns, WYSA continues to rely on repeat players and word of mouth from local families. Whether it's dropping off fliers at local pre-schools or shooting out emails with reminders for sign-ups, the league continues to grow its enrollment. "What we are seeing now versus the past is kids are playing either in the fall or spring but not necessarily both," said Vance. "Kids are encouraged not to specialize early, and we understand and support that way of thinking. Kids need exposure to different sports to make them better athletes down the road." In WYSA's history, the league has had many players come through that went on to play at the collegiate level. Soccer has developed into a very competitive sport within county lines and many of the kids playing today will play for the middle or high school teams in the future. "There have been many years where Woodford County has had some very talented players on the Kentucky state level," said Vance. What makes WYSA unique also is they do not have any state or local funding. The league runs on what it generates in enrollment per season. "The county has been good to us, the residents care about the league and believe in what we are trying to accomplish," said Vance. Looking in the not-so-distant future, the league's hope is clear. "We would love to have a soccer complex that can host tournaments and bring teams from neighboring states back to Woodford County for events," said Vance. "The mood has changed within the travel soccer community. Host facilities like they have in Elizabethtown have become destination weekends for soccer families. Finding a location and funding within the county is the toughest of tasks, but the vision is there." With all of the Louisville club teams playing their tournaments in Hardin County, the writing is on the wall that someone in Central Kentucky must step up to keep travel soccer teams coming to play in the bluegrass. "It would be wonderful if someone would see that this will work and we could host tournaments 30 weekends a year," said Vance. In the past, Woodford County has hosted many tournaments and would have 30 teams come in from Michigan and many other Northern states. With the bigger facilities now hosting all the action, the ideas are flowing at WYSA as they look ahead.

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