By David Fong
TROY — Dave Pappas learned a long time ago not to take anything for granted during Troy Strawberry Soccer Invitational weekend … particularly when it comes to the weather.
“I remember a number of years ago, when I went to bed, the weather report said it was supposed to be in the 60s and clear the next day,” said Pappas, director of the Troy Strawberry Festival Soccer Invitational. “So I dressed for that weather. The next day, it was 45 degrees and rained — I don’t know if I’ve ever been that miserable. Ever since then, I make sure I dress appropriately.”
The weather is just one of many details Pappas and his staff have grown accustomed to in handling one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the Midwest. The tournament — which began 19 years ago as the dream of the late John Permeter, a long-time soccer coach and supporter in Troy — kicks off this weekend.
What started as a small, mostly local tournament at one location — Duke Park — has continued to grow every year. This weekend, 332 teams from across the Midwest will converge on Troy — along with several surrounding communities — for the 19th annual soccer tournament. Pappas estimates around 5,000 players and somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 spectators will be in the area for the tournament games, which will be played Saturday and Sunday.
The tournament has long-since outgrown its original host site of Duke Park. This year, games will be played at Duke, Archer Park in Troy, Ferguson Field near Troy Junior High School, Pitsenbarger Park in Piqua, Kyle Park in Tipp City and Speagh Park in Pleasant Hill.
Money raised from the event through entry fees, parking, concessions and souvenir sales will go to benefit youth soccer programs in all four of the host communities.
“It’s something I enjoy doing,” Pappas said of directing the tournament. “Some people have hobby like building cabinets. I have this event once a year and I get together with my committee probably three months out of the year. It’s a good committee and a group of people I enjoy working with.”
Rain is in the forecast for this weekend — but again, with a strong plan in place, it’s not something Pappas said he’ll spend much time worrying about.
“Rain we can handle — it’s the lightning you worry about,” he said. “But even if there is lightning, there’s a plan in place.”
Should there be lightning in the area for the tournament this weekend, Pappas said there are several contingency plans. The first involves delaying games by 30 minutes until the lightning has completely moved out of the area. Should games start getting backed up, any contest that reached halftime counts as a full game. In an extreme situation involving continuous storms, games could even be decided by penalty kicks or coin tosses.
“I’ll watch the weather report — but it’s not something I stress about,” Pappas said. “But I do need to be able to dress appropriately.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong