Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 06-13-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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8 LINCOLN JUNE 13-19, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION LINCOLN – For parents like Catherine Williams, Saturday morn- ings mean soccer. While some may begrudgingly load their car with shin guards, soccer balls and cleats, Williams said she loves connecting with other fami- lies at the field as she supports her 8-year-old son Morgan. Morgan started playing with Lincoln Youth Soccer Association at age 4, beginning with LYSA's recre- ational league, which Williams said is the foundational tier of the program. His mom, who now serves as the nonprofit's secretary, said the organi- zation has cultivated friendships for both her and her son. "On a Saturday morning it feels like you see every family in Lincoln at the field," she said. "You're con- stantly running into people." Some children, like hers, begin playing as young as 3 or 4 years old, running around in "uniforms like dresses" like "swarms of bees." Most begin with the recreational program to gain basic skills, with par- ticipants playing against others within the LYSA organization. More advanced players can try out for the league's competitive pro- gram, which competes against nearby communities such as Cumberland, Pawtucket and East Providence in the Rhode Island Youth Super Liga. In addition, LYSA now offers a third tier, partnering with Liverpool F.C.'s youth program to offer a "pre- mier" level of competition for players who make the team. Players also benefit from the LYSA's partnership with the Olympic Development Program, which brings in professional coaches to work with the teams. While many youth sports organizations are coached by volun- teer parents, Williams said LYSA's partnership with the ODP means participants get the best training. "It makes a big difference," she said. The popularity of the program has exploded since its formation 18 years ago, with the recreational program growing by roughly 100 participants since last year alone. LYSA's competitive league has fall, winter and spring programs, with participation rates rising in each. In the spring of 2013, fewer than 70 children played in the competitive league, compared to nearly 200 now. "Overall, the numbers are still rising," Williams said. Though the majority of LYSA's members are from town, you don't have to be from Lincoln to participate. While Williams said the organiza- tion is grateful for the boost in popu- larity, they have experienced some growing pains along the way thanks to an overall lack of adequate playing space in town to support the growing number of participants. They currently play at Lime Acres, sometimes spilling over to Lincoln Middle School. That field, Williams said, is "not currently equipped to hold the sheer amount of practices and games we need with this amount of kids." When it rains, the field becomes waterlogged for much longer than normal, lacking adequate drain- age. Practices and games have been Lincoln Youth Soccer flourishes, but field space an issue By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer Players from the LINCOLN YOUTH SOCCER ASSOCIATION march in the Lincoln Memorial Day Parade. BREEZE PHOTO BY BILL MURPHY See LYSA, Page 30

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