The Bainbridge Elite Soccer Team (BEST) bought home two more medals in just their second outing as an organized club, and received an invitation to the U.S. National Soccer Tournament to be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the process.
At the Alabama State Games held in Dothan, Alabama from June 10-12th, BEST fielded three teams in the 16U, 14U and 12U age groups.
The 16U team, led by head coach Mike Albritton, stunned their competition right at the start of the tournament, knocking out the Enterprise (Alabama) Eagles 7-1 on Saturday. Game play continued that afternoon and into Sunday with the team advancing to the semi-finals late Sunday afternoon, where they demolished their opponents 5-0, securing the bronze medal, and winning an invitation to the U.S. National Soccer Tournament. Coach Albrittion said, “I’m very proud of what our team accomplished in this tournament. We made some noise and put Bainbridge on the soccer map.”
The 14U team led by head coach Jamie Ard battled teams from Florida and Alabama, advancing to the medal round late on Sunday afternoon. In the final game of the tournament they stunned FC Montgomery (Alabama) with a score of 5-1, securing their invitation to the U.S. National Soccer Tournament. “I couldn’t be more pleased with their efforts this weekend. We were missing some of our regular players but the depth of skill in our club is broad enough that we were still able to pull out victories against more experienced teams”, Ard said.
The 12U team led by head coach Dale Tyre made a great showing coming in 4th overall in their group. Advancing on Sunday to the medal rounds, they held their own against much older teams. “The average age of our players was 10 years old in a 12 year old age group. We had some really, really young players, but we were playing teams whose average age was 12. I’m really happy with our teams’ efforts at the tournament. To come in 4th over teams that were much older, bigger, and more experienced, says quite a lot about our kids”, Coach Tyre said. “Some of our kids were so small in comparison to our opponents, one team couldn’t stop laughing. They stopped when we went up 2 goals on them.”
Club co-founder and assistant coach Pete Emmons said, “Though these teams have only played as an organized club for the past 3 months, they’ve really played together their entire lives. They are all products of the Bainbridge YMCA, and on that foundation we’re able to build something really strong and quite impressive.”
Emmons continued, “Many people came up to us during the tournament and noticed not just the the size of our boys, but the skill level they have. More than once I heard comments asking, ‘what do you feed your kids in Bainbridge?'”
Co-founder and club general manager Robert McIntosh noted that BEST made quite a stir during the 3-day competition. “People were coming from all across the complex to watch this new club they heard about from Bainbridge, Georgia just thrash older and more experienced teams.”
The newly formed club is the opening act to a year-round competition level soccer program. McIntosh continued, “The skill in this community is tremendous. The opportunity to help our kids maximize that skill led to the formation of the club.”
Emmons noted that cost was also factor in organizing the new club. “We found that to join an already established club would cost a minimum of $1000 per year for each player, whether you got to play or not. Some clubs in the bigger metropolitan areas charge $7500 per year. We’re not doing that. We’re playing per tournament. The entry costs for each tournament is split equally among the players. To go to this tournament cost each player $35. The cost savings is tremendous. We’re trying to give each child an opportunity to reach their full potential without breaking mom and dad’s bank account.”
The club has an open door policy for all players interested in playing Emmons said. “We invite each and every player out to our practices to watch first, and then to join the practices if they wish. It’s an ongoing try-out system. If you’re good enough to earn a spot on the team, you’re given that opportunity, regardless of when you joined the club. Our core group of players understands that once you’re on the team doesn’t mean you get to keep your spot. The pay system we have allows us to take the very best team each time. That might be why they’ve become such a dominating force so quickly.”
The teams don purple and white uniforms during the games. “It’s important to us that we honor our hometown. That’s why we incorporate purple into our uniforms which identifies us with Bainbridge”, Emmons said.
A girl’s team has also just been organized and is expected to play in the next tournament. If your child is interested in trying out for the club please contact Pete Emmons at 229-246-7770 for more information.