Crawford AuSable Soccer Association moving forward with plans for new field
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Youth leaders are trying to kick up community support to develop an added soccer playing area in short order.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, at its regular monthly meeting on Jan. 25, approved a proposal for the Crawford AuSable Soccer Association to move forward with engineers to develop plans for the new field. The field would be adjacent to CASA’s existing fields at the Crawford County Sports Complex.
Several years ago, the State of Michigan allowed Crawford County officials to transform the former fairgrounds property into a one-stop-spot for youth sports. Along with CASA, the Grayling Little League and Grayling Junior Vikings football have fields on the property. The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter is also located on the northwest portion of the property.
Northwest Design Group, a Petoskey-based engineering firm, will draw up plans and generate bid specifications for the new fields.
Last spring, Steve Bednar, the president the CASA Board of Directors, said the league had 23 teams totaling 200 players.
The two existing fields are reconfigured to provide a better playing surface.
“The kids beat the grass up pretty bad, so what we do is rotate our fields,” Bednar said.
Depending on the age group of the players, fields are expanded for different levels of skill. Children can start playing soccer at four years of age. The games involve four players on the field and two players who take turns coming into the match.
“That gives the kids a lot of playing time, and you have only two on the bench, so they get rotated in real quick,” Bednar said.
Teams reach up to 11 players, which is the same level for high school soccer games.
“If the kids get up to the high school, they’ve got 10 years of soccer in them,” Bednar said.
The 400 feet by 500 feet section of land would accommodate two to three smaller soccer fields or one larger field.
Last year, the league had to create a smaller field by its concession stand area for younger players.
“We utilize every square foot that we’ve got,” Bednar said.
CASA offers discounts to families with multiple players.
“Every dime that goes into CASA goes to the kids for insurance purposes, field purposes, and uniform purposes, and we try to keep our cost way down so people can afford it,” Bednar said.
CASA is applying for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Passport grant to pay for the new fields. Passport grants are funded through the fees charged for permits to enter state parks and campgrounds.
Patrick Potter, a retired DNR forester who lives in Grayling, is helping CASA with the grant application.
The grant application deadline is April 1. The cost to develop the fields is $102,000. CASA will have to provide $25,000 in cash donations, in-kind labor or use of equipment in order to be considered for the grant.
Bednar, who has been involved with leading local youth sports for 35 years, said the whole goal of the project is to get kids outside and moving.
“We’re just trying to make it work for the kids,” Bednar said.
For more information or to assist with the project, contact Bednar at (989) 390-3607 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.