Smithfield recreational soccer: Little commitment for a whole lot of fun

Smithfield recreational soccer: Little commitment for a whole lot of fun

Josh and Rachel Gagnon stand with their daughters, Madelyn, 5, and Quinn, 2, in Deerfield Park on Saturday for the opening day of Smithfield Youth Association Soccer. Both parents took turns running around the field with Madelyn and the other "dinomites" on her team, as part of a 30-minute practice session. (Valley Breeze & Observer photo by Melanie Thibeault)

SMITHFIELD - For the parents of the Smithfield Youth Soccer Association, taking a couple hours out of their weekend schedule is hardly a commitment, and watching their children play in the recreational league is lots of fun, said many of the parents who were at Deerfield Park on Saturday morning.

Elaine Powers, who was on the sidelines Saturday watching her son, Sean, 15, play with his co-ed team, said that Sean has been a part of SYSA since he was 5 years old.

"We've been through the whole system," Powers said, who mentioned that soccer is a "big thing" in Smithfield.

SYSA, a recreational league, has a handful of teams, including U8 girls, U8 boys, U10 girls, U10 co-ed, U12 co-ed, U13 girls, U15 co-ed, U18 co-ed, and U5 and U6 "dinomites."

As a result, a lot of people in town tend to know each other through sports. "You have friends on both sides of the field," Powers said. "It's fun, and friends like to give each other a hard time."

But making friends isn't just for the kids. As Powers said, "Parents socialize with other parents as well."

For older players, practice times are less frequent. Sean plays in the U15 co-ed league, which has no practices. According to Powers, the team just plays games on the weekends. "When (Sean) was younger, he would have practice two times a week," she said.

In addition to the SYSA team, Sean is a member of his high school soccer team, and also plays hockey and lacrosse. "We're always running around from one place to another," Powers said.

Despite the hectic schedule, she has no complaints. "It's really a lot of fun. You've got to enjoy it while you can." Karen Varin's two sons, Jimmy, 15, and Tyler, 12, play on rec teams, as well as competitive teams. Varin echoed Powers: "It's tough," she said. "But the older they get, the easier it is."

Varin said that her sons have friends on every team, so someone is always available to carpool.

Shuffling them around to multiple practices and games is "hectic" for Varin, but "it's still a lot of fun (trying) to get them to as many games as possible."

Maureen Caprio also lives with two soccer players - her sons Connor, 9, and Cameron, 6 - and understands the busy lifestyle.

Caprio's sons generally practice one night a week and have two games on the weekend. "I'm always rushing them out the door, and getting them here or there for six o'clock practice," she said. "They have to eat before, and usually again after (practice)," she added.

But despite the stress of running two boys around, "it's fun," she said. "And the kids love it."

Josh and Rachel Gagnon enrolled their daughter Madelyn, 5, in the rec league so that "she'd be active and playing with other kids."

This Saturday's opening weekend at Deerfield Park was the first fall weekend of soccer for Madelyn, who began playing the sport in the spring.

While Josh works a 9-to-5 schedule, Rachel, a nurse, sometimes works nights and long shifts. She said that sometimes soccer practice conflicts with her schedule, but that the weekends this fall have been "working out" with her shifts. As for Madelyn's schedule, Rachel said, "My daughter is not a morning person." Thankfully, since practice and games are usually scheduled for 9 or 9:30 a.m., both Madelyn and her sister Quinn, 2, are awake by then.

Soccer practice "will also help with the school routine," Rachel said.

Josh, who grew up playing baseball and running track, said that he never played soccer. "This is new for both of us." Rachel added, "Smithfield is a big soccer town."

The kids in Madelyn's league play for an hour on Saturdays and Sundays. Thirty minutes is dedicated to practicing, followed by a 30-minute scrimmage.

During the instructional part of the hour, parents are encouraged to participate and run around with their children. The kids in the "dinomites" leagues "kind of just chase after the ball," Josh said. "At this age, there's a lot of confusion, but they're starting to learn."

Ellie Zimmerman, who plays for the Ocean State Urgent Care team in the Smithfield Youth Soccer Association's U5 Dinomites instructional league, is all smiles as she tries to steal the ball from her father, Greg Zimmerman, during a break on the sidelines. (Valley Breeze & Observer photo by Eric Benevides)