Adults get kick out of soccer
Moms, dads play in indoor winter league

BY JEAN WILLIAMS
Enquirer Contributor

They are the ultimate soccer moms and dads, cheering their children up and down fields during the spring or fall soccer season, and then taking to an indoor field themselves on a weekday or weekend night.

In an era of weekend warriors, soccer fields are the battlefields of choice for thousands of local adults.

“I was looking for something to do in the winter,” said Delhi Township resident Shannon Bross, one of several dozen 20- to 40-somethings congregated before and after games on a recent Saturday night at the Western Sports Mall in Westwood.

She and her husband, Andy, play on a team together and, like most of their teammates, the Brosses bring their two children to the sports mall to play while adults hit the soccer field.

“My social life is playing soccer,” Mrs. Bross said.

“It's almost like a date — you play soccer, and go to the bar afterward,” said Ann Erpenbeck of Westwood, who joins her husband on a team each Friday night while their children keep busy playing video games.

Dan Smith, a high school and professional soccer coach, coordinated more than 100 adult soccer teams this fall at the sports mall, where the indoor tennis courts underwent a soccer makeover in 1991.

At the Cincinnati Sports Club on Red Bank Road in Fairfax, sports and activities director Rene Durand has 60 adult teams playing indoor soccer. That number will go up significantly, he said, when winter forces outdoor players inside.

Cincinnati's recreation department had more than 4,000 adult players registered on teams this past year, said Rose Dillingham, the department's soccer coordinator.

“Ten years ago, we were it” for adults who wanted to play soccer, said Ms. Dillingham. Today, there are seven indoor soccer facilities in the Cincinnati area.

At the Western Sports Mall, “the last game starts at 11:30 (p.m.) on weekends,” Mr. Smith said.

Soccer backgrounds vary among the thousands of adults playing locally. Younger team members often played in grade school or high school, while the 40-ish crowd mostly came to the sport by watching and coaching their own children.

“They didn't even have soccer when I was a kid,” said Micki Conroy of Delhi Township. Having twokids on soccer teams drew her to the sport, and she and her husband have become regulars at the sports mall.

The games can be intense, and a hazard is injury. Older adults aren't always in the best physical condition, said Mr. Smith, adding that soccer is fast and physically demanding. The most common ailment — knee injury.

“We've had three or four people who have blown their knees out,” Mrs. Conroy said of her team members.

Andy Bross, who played soccer in his youth and returned to it two years ago, recently was sidelined after reconstructive knee surgery.

Leagues can vary from “very competitive to very recreational,” Mr. Durand said.

The cost is family-friendly. A team is charged $400 to play a 10-week session at the Cincinnati Sports Club, a fee split by about 15 members. 



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