Lauren Mutter Memorial Game on Saturday
If you go ...
What: Lauren Mutter Memorial Game, a soccer game to raise money for the Vail Valley Soccer Club to help young girls play the game. Vail Christian plays Battle Mountain with a good helping of Vail Mountain School as well.
Where: Battle Mountain
When: Saturday, 5 p.m., pickup soccer for kids, followed by the game at 6 p.m.
This is one of many reasons why high school soccer in Eagle County is special.
There are the rivalries — Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley or Battle Mountain-Vail Mountain or Vail Mountain-Vail Christian.
There are the moments — Battle Mountain’s Alberto Saenz scoring in overtime into an empty net to beat VMS, sending his team to the playoffs or the Huskies’ Jordan Glendining, a goalie, scoring an overtime goal from the run of play to beat Steamboat Springs.
There are the titles — the 2012 Huskies (20-0) and the 2015-16 Vail Mountain School teams — and the almost titles —the 2000 Gore Rangers and 2016 Battle Mountain. (Harrumph to Faith Christian and The Classical Academy.)
What links them all is family — be it blood relation or simply through a love of the game.
So it’s no surprise that the local soccer community is gathering on Saturday at Battle Mountain for the Lauren Mutter Memorial Game.
There will be pickup games for the kids at 5 p.m., followed by Vail Christian vs. Battle Mountain at 6. The Saints-Huskies matchup is a relative one as the Vail Mountain School will be joining in for the second half with all three teams playing in a jumble.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids and if you want to throw a little extra into the kitty, that’s fine because all the proceeds are going to the Vail Valley Soccer Club for a scholarship for young girls to play the game.
Mutter, who passed away unexpectedly in March, was a an alumna of Vail Christian, (Class of 2005) who played for Vail Mountain School before returning to her alma mater to help start its own soccer program.
The ties that bind
Mutter’s journey was not unique.
All four of the county’s high school soccer programs are interconnected. When Battle Mountain’s new soccer coach David Cope took over in 1993, he copied his program after the system that was being used by Vail Mountain’s Bob Bandoni.
Now the Eagle Valley soccer coach in both the fall and spring, Maggie Sherman played for Bandoni, as did Mutter.
Meanwhile, Mutter coached at Vail Christian with Barbara Wilson, whose boys ended up playing for Cope at Battle Mountain. Got that?
It’s really not that surprising. Soccer’s a family affair in this county.
Take a look at the Battle Mountain girls soccer roster. We’ve heard that Audrey Teague is good at soccer — she’s the defending 4A Slope Player of the Year. Her older sister, Ali, played as well. Her mom runs the scoreboard and her father records the games in the press box.
The Huskies’ Maggie Skidmore is the third of her family (Jack and Mallory) to play Huskies soccer. There are also the Kenneys (Rayna and Summer) and the Murrays (Brogan and Bailey).
For Vail Christian, the Saints’ “Hans and Franz,” their opening day center midfielders, Gretchen Pavelich and Julia Petrik, are sibs with Robin Pavelich and Ike Petrik. The Saints also have Laymans (Brooke and Blake) and Ellsworths (Sydney and Maddie). And, yes, the Ellsworths are their own athletic dynasty.
And then there’s VMS’ Gishes. Sammy, Emily and Gaby are all on the roster simultaneously.
I know I’ve missed some siblings, but we’ve established the family theme of local soccer. And when a family suffers a loss, as it did with Lauren, it comes together. While the celebration of life for Mutter in March at Vail Christian was first and foremost a religious service, it was also a de facto high school reunion for soccer players — past and present — from all of the local high schools.
Keeping mind the service’s main purpose — remembering the Lauren’s life — it was fun to see everyone, and I think Lauren would have liked the soccer memories shared after the service when everyone said hello.
Saturday’s another chance, under happier circumstances, for the Eagle County soccer community to get together, something I know Lauren would have loved.
Come one, come all, and bring your wallets.