Soccer tournament takes over town for weekend

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., May. 6, 2011
The 'Glastonbury Gunners' U-12 boys soccer team celebrates a goal in their match vs. a team from Westport during the Hartwell Soccer Spring Warm-up Tournament on May 1. Photos by Steve Smith.
The 'Glastonbury Gunners' U-12 boys soccer team celebrates a goal in their match vs. a team from Westport during the Hartwell Soccer Spring Warm-up Tournament on May 1. Photos by Steve Smith.

More than 15,000 people visited Glastonbury over the weekend of April 30-May 1 for the 18th annual Hartwell Soccer Spring Warm-Up Tournament.

Hartwell President Mary Kay Brophy said about 220 teams (U-9 through U-14) from all over New England and eastern New York took part, totaling approximately 3,000 kids.

“This is our biggest event of the year,” Brophy said, “and it does involve our more competitive division. It's progressively grown, and [has] become one of the premiere tournaments in New England.”

Brophy said the players' families patronize local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, and that has been great for the tournament's symbiosis with the community.

“The restaurants in town appreciate the heads-up,” she said, “because they bring in more staff.”

The tournament organizers also tried something new this year, which was to showcase a different local restaurant as the concession stand at each of the tournament's site locations. For example, Mustard Seed Cafe was at Glastonbury High School, Moe's was at Addison Park, 2 Hopewell was at Riverfront Park, and Giovanni's Pizza was at the Smith Middle School location.

“We're trying to create a 'Taste of Glastonbury,' because we're so proud of the town we're in,” Brophy said, adding that she also thanks the town’s Parks and Rec. Department, as well as that of Manchester (Veterans Field there is also used).

More than 500 volunteers help run the tournament.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers that make this happen,” Brophy said. “Basically, every family involved with the travel program participates. We have junior coaches, high school coaches, Key Clubs - it's tremendous.”

Tournament Co-Director Jim Wadleigh said with an event so large, there are always a few minor glitches, but the weekend ran smoothly, thanks to those involved.

“I deal with all the issues all day. All of us deal with them,” he said. “We see the bumps in the road, but no one else sees the bumps in the road. It's our job to make everyone's experience wonderful.”

Alex Dixon, coach of a U-9 girls' team from the Old Greenwich Soccer Club, said his team had a lot of fun, and he appreciated the hospitality of the tournament.

“It's good,” Dixon said. “There are lots of fields, and we had beautiful weather. The hardest part is, I wish it were a little later in the season, when the girls are more in practice.”

Coach Garry Straker of the U-12 boys' Glastonbury Gunners team said although his team's record was 1-1-2, he thought the weekend was a success.

"The weather has been great, and the competition was great,” he said. “There are good, quality teams here. My guys have enjoyed it, and they've had a lot of fun. It's not always about winning.”

Straker said the tournament was indeed a warm-up for his team, before their league starts its regular season.

“Spring is a little more relaxed,” he said. “Kids have a lot of other stuff going on. Our season starts up soon, and this loosens them up.”

About 2,000 players, from pre-kindergarten to high school ages, take part in Hartwell's spring and fall leagues.

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