Jamboree triggers start of ESA season

By Jon Clark

STAR Correspondent

   Elizabethton soccer players have enthusiastically returned to Doe River Gorge in record numbers.
   The ESA jamboree, which was held a week ago last Saturday was the all day kick-off to an eight-week game schedule. Jamboree games allow all teams to play each team in their age bracket.
   This year, with only five minutes between games, the day lasted almost eight hours. The pace was hectic yet well organized with coaches, players, referees, and parents working together to make it an enjoyable day.
   Drought-like conditions and scorching hot temperatures have created a dustbowl at the fields. Despite less-than-ideal field conditions there is a festive and lively atmosphere. Unlike watching soccer on television, just being there brings an excitement all its own.
   Little clouds of dust puffed up from feet eager to reach the ball, each player hoping to be the one to strike at the opponents goal. All the teams are sporting new and colorful uniforms (thanks to Kin Hardin, PEP Screen Printing and the sponsors), making the teams easy to identify.
   Faces red with exertion and legs covered with dust, the children looked battle-worn but happy.
   Soccer moms were ever-present, dispensing Gatorade, bottled water, snacks, and lots of encouragement. Concessions were also available. Snow cones were extremely popular, helping to cool overheated players and spectators.
   Referees do not keep score and no teams are declared winners, yet each team knows when they've scored. Each keeper actively tries to prevent another goal, and all the players do their best.
   Players of widely differing sizes and skills compete with good sportsmanship and fair play (sometimes with the refs intervention), and all who play and watch are the winners!