Sumrall soccer to get its own soccer facilityBy CAMAL PETRO,
Sumrall’s basketball gymnasium is less than 10 years old, the Lady Bobcats’ softball complex just completed its second year in use and Larry Knight Field is one of the nicest baseball fields in the area, and now it’s the Sumrall soccer program’s turn to call something its own.
On Monday night, the Lamar County School Board approved the purchase of six acres of land by the Sumrall High School Kickstarters Booster Club for $60,000, and two more acres will be donated to bring the total to eight acres. Also, there’s an option for the booster club to purchase two more acres if needed.
“I’m extremely excited,” Todd Siders, Sumrall’s girls and boys’ head coach, said. “There’s definitely a long journey ahead of us, but this is what sets everything in motion. It’s for sure going to happen now and we can really start to game plan what kind of fundraisers we’ll do, how we’re going to get the financing and try to get the process started to be able to play on it in a couple of years.”
The second anniversary of the birth of the Sumrall soccer program was in early June, and two playoff appearances from each team later, the Sumrall community has backed the Bobcats and Lady Bobcats with its own field and complex.
In fact, Sumrall will be one of two teams in the Hattiesburg area with its own soccer facility, but even Petal shares the complex with the track and field teams. Most teams practice and play on the school’s football field, and that’s the case for Sumrall currently, but it’s rare for a high school team to have its own facility.
“I feel very supported by our football program and I’m very thankful we’ve been able to use their facilities,” Siders said, “but on the same hand, it’s nice to be to go out and have adequate space to go out and train, really get better and continue to push this program forward, especially in the fall when we have soccer blocks.”
The eight acres will be located east of the softball complex on the north side of Highway 42, and there will be three fields – the high school game field, practice field and a youth field. During the football season, the soccer teams practice in the outfield of the old baseball field.
Sumrall looked into a turf field for its new complex, but the price of one turf field almost equaled the same as building the three fields as planned.
Siders said he hopes to be practicing at the complex next year, and playing games in two or three years.
“You come into a situation likes this with high hopes, and visions and dreams of what you want to accomplish,” Siders said. “It’s certainly probably happening a lot faster than I imagined it would, but realistically we can now say our program is legitimate, we might have one of the best facilities in the state one day and we certainly feel like we can win state championships in the near future. It’s rewarding and I’m very humble to be able to be apart of it.”
Both the girls and boys’ teams have made the playoffs in each of its first two seasons of existence, with both claiming the district title last season. The Lady Bobcats have compiled a 29-12-1 record in two seasons and the boys have a 19-22-1 overall record.
Siders said community has rallied around the program in a remarkable way.
“The response, especially with our soccer team, has been really good, considering a lot of people thinking it would never happen,” he said. “Now that we’ve had success, and a few players going on to play at the next level, it’s opened up a lot of eyes.
“Athletics is always big, but I think people see it more as the opportunity to development young men and women of high character and hopefully get them scholarships so they can go on and continue their education with a lot less cost than it normally would. It’s a big part of this community. It’s a hardworking town that really likes to give back to its community.”