Youth soccer event creates busy weekend
About that name
The Vail Valley Soccer Club’s annual Vail Valley Cup has added a name — the Cindy Eskwith Memorial Tournament. According to an e-mail from Jodi Teague, one of the tournament organizers, Eskwith was one of the tournament’s founders and long-time supporter.
“Cindy was an eternal optimist who believed sports inspire leadership and teamwork among youth. Her efforts to support soccer enriched the local community and positively influenced generations of players, coaches and referees. Her passion for soccer and supporting local youth will live on for years to come.”
EAGLE COUNTY — In what’s usually a fairly slow period on our seasonal calendar, the Vail Valley has a bit of extra bustle this weekend. We can thank youth soccer.
For nearly 20 years, the Vail Valley Soccer Club has hosted a tournament in early fall. The tournament is the club’s major fund-raiser every year, and the only reason it isn’t more popular is that there’s only so much field time available.
This year, 110 teams — 100 of which come from out of the valley — will play more than 170 games on 12 fields, mostly in the upper part of the valley. Those teams, with kids from 10 to 17 years of age, all consist of 18 players. Add in coaches, parents, siblings and the occasional uncle, cousin or random well-wisher, and club director Shannon Moller believes each team could ultimately bring 50 people or more for the weekend. That’s 5,000 more people than the valley would usually host in early October.
Bit of a Scramble
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It’s a lot of work for the local club, especially if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Moller said an early-autumn snowstorm in 2013 had club parents and other volunteers scrambling.
“We had probably 50 volunteers shoveling snow off fields all day,” she said. But, as always, the kids played.
With the fields at Ford Park out of commission this year due to construction, tournament organizers had to scramble a bit, but were able to keep the same number of teams. That means it’s going to take some precise organization to keep teams moving through the brackets until the final games are played later today. But that hard work, this year and in the past, is what keeps families coming.
Parents of kids in any club sport know that Western Slope teams travel a lot. But the visiting teams this weekend are doing most of the driving. One team is coming from Durango, but most come from the Front Range, from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. They’re drawn here by a combination of scenery, competition and, not least, a chance to spend a weekend in the Vail Valley when everything from rooms to meals are available at pretty good prices.
Moller said teams fill hotels from the Comfort Inn in Avon to the Four Seasons in Vail.
“I know you can stay at the Comfort Inn for less than $100 (per night),” Moller said, adding that even high-end properties such as the Four Seasons are reasonably priced this time of year. Since registration is Friday evening and games start at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, most families spend two nights in the valley.
‘Impact is Huge’
The Antlers Lodge in Vail is one of this year’s tournament sponsors. Ironically, Antlers General Manager Rob LeVine said there aren’t a lot of soccer families staying at his place this year, since it’s already booked with a big wedding and a business group. Those groups, and a few soccer families, add up to a full-up weekend at the 90-unit lodge.
LeVine said, those big groups might have booked at The Antlers because rooms elsewhere unavailable because of tournament business.
“The impact is huge,” LeVine said.
This weekend bookings can have a ripple effect across the calendar, LeVine said.
“Another group that’s here next weekend might have come this weekend if not for this event,” LeVine said.
Businesses around the valley also welcome the influx of kids and adults. Jenn Bruno, co-owner of the Luca Bruno clothing stores in Vail, has two soccer-playing sons who aren’t quite old enough yet to play in this weekend’s tournament. But Bruno is familiar with the event.
“People come who take full advantage of what Vail has to offer this time of year,” Bruno said. “It’s great to see families walking around the village.”
Bruno said this tournament is “incredible” for the Vail Valley, adding that it shows the power of sporting events for the valley.
“They’re all eating out; they’re all staying in hotels — it’s really great,” she said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.