Good morning and happy Thursday, fine people. Thanks for starting your day here with us at The County Line.
The calendar says that it’s July 28, 2022, but regular readers already know we’re digging deeper than that.
The typical procedure for this post begins with me searching far and wide for all the most obscure holidays and celebrations for a given date, and then narrowing the candidates down to a single faux holiday to spotlight. Today, the choice was easy, with one wannabe holiday standing out above the rest, the only one to evoke strong feelings from this writer.
With apologies to National Refreshments Day, National Milk Chocolate Day, and National Chili Dog Day, these delicious nuggets of junk food propaganda have been beaten by a superior foe.
Happy National Soccer Day.
I realize that most people around here don’t know much about soccer and wouldn’t want it any other way. They think those silly players need to pick that ball up and bring it into a gym where it belongs, where it should be dribbled and passed and shot through a hoop—with hands!
These people are all profoundly wrong.
Please understand, I’m far from a soccer nut. If I’m watching sports at home, it’s far more likely to be basketball, football, baseball, boxing, or UFC on my screen than a soccer match. I don’t have a favorite MLS team, don’t follow European soccer at all, and don’t get too bent out of shape when our men’s national team chokes in the World Cup (or fails to even qualify, like in 2018). I never call soccer football, or even worse, futbol.
This is what I can say for soccer though, from someone who grew up right here in Adair County and through sheer, age-related luck had the opportunity to play the sport all the way from elementary school through high school: Soccer is fun. Soccer is intensely, unbelievably fun.
The most enjoyable, rewarding, exciting sports season I was ever a part of was my soccer squad senior year of high school, and there’s some stiff competition there because I loved baseball and basketball too.
When that last season ended, I was 17 years old. From that teenage perspective, my most proud lifetime accomplishment was probably what I achieved with my teammates on that team. I cannot even imagine doing something these days that would elicit such pride, and it’s not like we won a state title or anything close. We didn’t capture a postseason championship at all, losing in both the district and region finals, falling to the same opponent both games.
The reason I was so proud to play for that specific squad was because of my teammates and where we started.
Thanks to Lindsey Wilson College’s program rising to national prominence, youth soccer was established in Adair County when I was in second or third grade, and that’s when I started playing. A group of five or six of us were together from that point forward. We joined the high school’s JV team in seventh grade, and when we were old enough to play varsity as freshmen, all of us managed to earn spots in the starting lineup. We went 2-11. Somerset beat us 11-0. The next season, starters again, losers again, with a final record of 2-15.
Finally, by the time we were juniors, most of the kids who had been beating up on us for years had graduated. With the same core from the previous two years, we had the program’s first-ever winning record: 11 wins, seven losses, one tie. We won a game in our six-team district tournament that year but failed to advance to region.
Region was the only goal that final season. No one cared about stats or accolades at all, even a little bit, and I can’t say that for any other team I’ve ever been on, in any sport. The five seniors that had started in the sport together almost 10 years prior still made up half the starting lineup, but over the previous couple of seasons we added some good athletes who didn’t grow up playing the sport, fast kids who were tired of football or looking for something to do before baseball started in the spring.
It was a tremendous season to end on. We had another winning record, 12 wins against seven losses. There was an eight-game winning streak. We did something truly special against those dang Russell County Lakers on Sept. 25. We eliminated Somerset in the district tournament—no more 11-0 defeats to those guys. We came back from two goals down late in the game to beat Marion County in the region semis, and lost a game that would have sent us to state. Eighteen years later, these memories still make me smile.
Unfortunately, Adair County kids today cannot know the thrills soccer provided for me and my friends. That 2004 run remains the only time Adair County has played in a region tournament in soccer. A couple seasons after I graduated in 2005, the program disbanded. The same happened in Russell County, but fortunately the district’s administration remedied that error, and the Lakers are back on the pitch again.
It sincerely pains me that soccer is no longer part of Adair County athletics. My life is better because I had the chance to play such a great game with such awesome friends. I hope we bring it back. We should bring it back. A whole new generation deserves to have as much of a fun, memorable time growing up with the game as I did. It’s worth whatever effort and money it takes to make it happen—which is less than many other sports require.
Soccer will never reach the same popularity here as it enjoys across most of the rest of the world, but it at least merits a seat at the table. I wish this community would once again give it a chance.
We’ve already exceeded the word limit for this post, so let’s wrap it up. This post is dedicated to Sandy Corbin and our very own “Note to Self” columnist Eric Overby, whose birthdays are today, and Daniel and Shaina Eubank, who celebrate their anniversary. Hopefully all four have the best day imaginable.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and check back throughout the day for more fresh content, always from local voices.
*A quick note from the writer: I promise I’m not weird enough to remember these decades-old soccer records and scores, but I greatly appreciate KHSAA.org for archiving this vital information.