Supporting More Rectangular Fields in Wicomico County

Sharptown Soccer Could Benefit From New West Metro Core Soccer Fields

It may not be immediately obvious how a park in Hebron could benefit Sharptown Soccer, but the potential is there. A new park in Hebron with dedicated rectangular fields would give Sharptown a wider variety of teams to play, give us closer access, and allow us to actually play a decent number of games.

Coach Mark sending mixed messages.
Field of Dreams, directed by Phil Alden Robinson (1989; Universal Pictures)

When I say I would like a wider variety of teams to play, don’t get me wrong, I love playing Mardela and Hebron. However, when we pay Wicomico County those team registration fees, it comes with the expectation that we are going to get to play other teams as well – not just the teams that we can (and do!) play whenever we want. I understand that simply creating a dedicated soccer facility does not suddenly create soccer teams, but there is a lot of truth to the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” Other than being from one of the greatest films of all time, and one of the strangest quotes I could choose based on what it was referring to and our current challenges; It is absolutely relevant. When the county destroyed our last four dedicated soccer fields in order to construct baseball fields in 2017. The message was clear “We do not care about soccer.” The message was heard loud and clear, and most people scattered. Anyone who stuck around knows that running soccer out of Winterplace Park was a half-hearted attempt. Their own registration numbers back this up. They have an incredibly high number of registrations for younger children, but their player retention is low. This is because most people eventually realize that the facilities at Winterplace Park are completely insufficient to support soccer beyond the mid-elementary school age. These people either quit entirely or find themselves at one of the local private soccer programs. It is the facilities that create the perception that the program is only good up to a certain age. If the county built a park, with dedicated, lighted rectangular fields, it would show the public that they are serious about soccer. Even if they weren’t able to sway some people back, their player retention would remain high for the foreseeable future.

The most obvious advantage for Sharptown Soccer would be the ease of access. Obviously, a park built in Hebron is going to much easier to get to than one on the far side of Salisbury. Since the county would set those fields as their home fields for Salisbury teams, the entirety of our season would be played at either Sharptown, Mardela, and Hebron.

Sharptown Soccer

My last point is one that I don’t think most people have noticed unless they have really been paying attention. Year after year, the number of games the county has been giving us has dropped. This is due to the availability of facilities and their inability to host night games. Not too long ago, we had a season with 12 games. Last season, we had 8 scheduled game. That ended up turning into 7 because one Saturday was rained out and they never gave us the makeup game because without the ability to play games at night, they lacked the infrastructure to make those games up. I feel like it has rained every Saturday for the last 4 weekends. What would happen if that cycle repeated during a soccer season?

In the version presented at the West Metro Core public interest meeting held on April 25th [Related: West Metro Core Plan], we wouldn’t likely see any of the above scenarios play out. Maybe ease of access, but it is very likely it would only be a matter of time before the county converted the West Metro Core Park into a baseball only facility. I will continue to fight for dedicated rectangular fields, and I appreciate all of the support received so far.

I’m just a soccer coach and I wanted to explain how this park could potentially benefit the Sharptown Soccer program, but just real quick, here are some other considerations. If the county built a park with a focus on rectangular fields, they would be opening up opportunities for new programs such as lacrosse, flag football, and field hockey. These additional sports would cater to diverse interests and abilities, enriching the lives of the community members. Furthermore, the establishment of dedicated rectangular fields could lead to partnerships with private soccer programs, bringing expertise and resources to the county’s sports scene. All in all, a park designed with the needs of the entire community in mind would not only foster a more inclusive and healthy environment, but also contribute to the growth and development of Wicomico County’s recreational landscape.

Now that’s something that benefits not just Sharptown Soccer, but all of us!

-Coach Mark