By RUBEN LOWMAN
The Southeast’s premier youth soccer tournament was once again held in the local area, with much of the action taking place at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex.
The 15th annual Coast Spring Classic, put on by local club soccer team Coast FA, saw close to 400 different youth teams playing on the grass and turf fields at the sports complex, as well as Michael Nash Field on Possum Trot Road in North Myrtle Beach. To accommodate the large scale of the two-weekend tournament, games were also held at Market Common and Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach.
“Running an event this size takes a huge effort from a lot of different people,” explained Coast FA director Heyward Gulledge.
Gulledge said that the tournament featured teams from seven different states, with participants and their families filling just shy of four thousand room nights at local hotels and resorts.
“The city staffs, athletic trainers, referee assignors, vendors, field marshals and Coast FA staff worked really well together to provide the players a good environment,” Gulledge said.
Weather conditions were ideal during both weekends of the tournament, which saw 226 small-sided teams play on the second week. The first weekend showcased 135 teams with players between the ages of 12 and 19.
Several of the local Coast FA teams took the medals for their performances during the tournament, defending their home turf and giving themselves an unforgettable experience they will never forget.
Connor Norton-Baker, coach of the U10 boys team at Coast FA, echoed his fellow coaches comments, saying of his title-winning players, “I am beyond proud of the way we played all weekend, they gave it their all and deserve to be champions. This was a great ending to a successful season.”
The Coast 09 Black team, along with the Coast 07 Red team, were also crowned champions during the spring classic. Coach Fatjon Cake led his Coast 09 team to a barnstorming weekend, claiming the title in the U13 boys division.
“The championship medal is well deserved,” said Cake. “It is a culmination of all the hard work and dedication the boys put in all season. I am proud of the players and the team that they have become.”
Additionally, after a couple years of coming up just short, Coach Joel Banta’s Coast 07 Red team finally added to their list of accomplishments a championship at the spring classic. Banta said that his players had a great weekend, and he was fully proud of their march to the title.
“As always, I expect a lot from these young men,” Banta said. “Even though they are currently playing with their respective high schools and not training together they did not miss a beat. The final versus Barca was a great match by both teams.”
All in all, the tournament was a major success, Gulledge said, and it created an economic impact of nearly $6 million for the local community.
“Big thanks go to the city of Myrtle Beach and the city of North Myrtle Beach for providing first class facilities for the teams,” Gulledge said.