Optimist Soccer expecting 1,350 kids

Published 3:35 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2006

By By RYAN STEWART / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Optimist youth soccer is upon us. Registration is in full swing as we speak.
Registration info and sign-up forms were distributed to all Niles, Buchanan and Cassopolis schools last week, according to Optimist Soccer committee member John Willis.
Willis, who has been the Optimist soccer chairman for the past five years, said they are expecting more than 1,350 kids in this, the 29th year of the program.
Any youth in grades kindergarten through eight are welcome to join the league. Games begin in the second week of April and run through the last Thursday before Memorial Day and are played weekly on one of the five fields in both Niles and Buchanan, or on one of the new fields in Cassopolis.
Most games are played on Saturday, with some games played in the evenings Monday through Thursday. There is a co-ed league with divisions of K, 1st/2nd grade, 3rd/4th, 5th/6th and 7th/8th grades. There are also all girls divisions divided into 3rd/4th/5th and 6th/7th/8th grades. Each team will play eight games. Kindergarteners play 6 on 6, 1st/2nd grade play 9 on 9, and every division on up plays the normal 11 on 11.
The registration deadline is Feb. 1. There is a registration fee of $30/player or $50/family. Late registrations are accepted, however there is a $5 late fee per player and no guarantee of being placed on a team for late registrations.
Registration information is available at the Niles/Buchanan YMCA, located at 315 W. Main St. in Niles and on the web at www.nilesoptimist.org.
On both Saturday Jan. 21 and 28, there will be on-site registration at the YMCA from 9 a.m. to noon. Buchanan is planning a one day registration sometime next week.
He estimated there being around 100 teams this year.
The YMCA can be reached at 683-1552.
For those who are wondering if and how they can get involved, Willis said they are always looking for volunteer coaches and referees, as well as additional sponsors.
The program is sponsored by the Niles Noon Optimist Club and the new Cassopolis Optimist Club.