Nearly 2,000 high school soccer players and their parents, from more than a dozen states, are in the Capital Region for a major youth soccer tournament this Memorial Day weekend.
This is the second year of the nationwide Presidents Cup tournament, and the first time the area is hosting the Region 1 competition. More than 120 teams from 13 East Coast states are represented.
The first matches were Saturday and matches continue today at Clifton Commons in Clifton Park, Maalwyck Park in Glenville and Gavin Park in Wilton. The finals will be held at Clifton Commons on Monday.
This is the first time that nearly all of the players and their parents have visited the Capital Region. Judging by the comments of several watching their sons and daughters play during a warm and hazy Saturday afternoon at Clifton Commons, the area is making a good first impression.
Chuck Robinson, 46, was sitting in a small set of bleachers along with dozens of other spectators on the sidelines of one field.
Robinson made the five-hour drive with his family from Newark, Del., so they could watch his 17-year-old son compete. Robinson quipped he could tell he would like the area based on his experience at the McDonald’s on Route 146 after they arrived on Friday night. “I can judge a place by its McDonald’s. That McDonald’s was nice.”
Robinson did not originally want to travel to the Capital Region this weekend. His son’s club, Delaware Sagabon, was the runner-up in their state cup tournament. Had they won, they would have gone to the Empire Cup in West Virginia. On this day, the “DSB Kickers” were bouncing back nicely, scoring five goals in the first half against the Pittsburgh Football Club.
Robinson described his experience in the Capital Region as pleasant, and his visit will be a productive one. Before returning home, the family will visit Siena College. Robinson said his son, who’s finishing up his junior year, wants to play soccer in college and would prefer a smaller school.
Robinson isn’t the only parent who will take time out between games to visit a local college campus. Renee Balboni of Springfield, Mass., and her 16-year-old daughter will visit Siena and Union College. For Balboni, this is the first time she’s returned to the area since coming to Saratoga Springs during the racing season many years ago.
“It’s very nice here.” She said.
Balboni found the driving her much easier than her family’s normal holiday destination. “We usually go to Cape Cod on Memorial Day weekend. You end up just sitting in traffic. It’s a nightmare. Here, there was no traffic.”
Besides checking out college campuses, Balboni said they plan to have some fun at a local go-kart track.
While Robinson said he would welcome a return trip to the Capital Region next year for a soccer tournament, Clifton Park Soccer Club founder and President Peter Clinton said it isn’t likely the area will host another Presidents Cup regional anytime soon. “There are 13 states in Region 1, plus New York and Pennsylvania have two separate regions, and they’ll rotate the hosts,” he said.
While helping man a concession stand, Clinton said he wasn’t surprised to hear that parents found the tournament at Clifton Commons to be very well organized. “The facilities up here are probably better than most places, and it’s very easy to get to compared to New York City or Long Island,” he said.
Despite the number of people attending the tournament, Clinton said they weren’t very busy with concessions.
“Most of them get right in their cars, go back to their hotels and go out to dinner after their games are done,” he explained, although several attendees came to the stand and purchased water to deal with the humid conditions.
Aillen Frost, whose son plays for the Pittsburgh Football Club, was watching just a few feet away from Robinson.
This is her first opportunity to visit upstate New York and she likes the area, despite the nearly nine-hour drive from Western Pennsylvania. “It’s really nice, there are a lot of places to go to,” she said. There may be more upstate visits in the offing for Frost, albeit in Central New York.
Frost said her son, who will begin his senior year in September, is interested in attending Syracuse University.