Tourney get ‘Extreme’
July 25, 2008
Just a few days after Triple Crown packs up their last truck and heads back to Colorado Springs another youth large tournament will begin in Park City.
The Powerade Extreme Cup soccer tournament, which will be held July 31 through Aug. 2, is a locally-run tournament that has quickly grown from a small, 40-team event to one of the largest youth soccer events in the Intermountain West in just five years.
The event, which is run by the Park City Extreme Soccer Club, doubled in size last year going from 43 to 104 teams and business continues to boom as 165 teams are planning to show up next week from all over the state, as well as neighboring Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada.
According to Extreme Soccer Club secretary Shelley Gillwald, the growth has been astounding. Typically, it can take up to 15 years to grow a regional tournament. Gillwald attributes the success to Park City being a destination location and ro the hard work of the tournament chairs, Heather and Brian Fox.
Extreme partnered with the Park City Chamber Bureau, the Summit County Restaurant Tax Committee and other community members to ensure the tournament weekend would be more than just a few days worth of games. The Kimball Arts Center will be providing wristbands to the teams to attend the Park City Arts Festival and activities at the local resorts and the Utah Olympic Park will be heavily promoted throughout the weekend.
"We really promote our offerings up here in Park City," Gillwald said. "I think that is why it’s really been successful."
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The tournament really started booming when the Fox family took the helm. According to Heather Fox, the secret to their success has been making connections. Promotional materials for this year’s event were sent out last fall, but the real work began in the winter. The husband and wife teams made numerous calls, passed out hundreds of information cards about the tournament and sent thousands of emails to make a personal contact with every one of the participating teams.
Gillwald also suspects that the condition of the soccer fields in the area were a factor in the decision-making for many teams.
"We all know we’ve got the best fields the state," Gillwald said. "Last year, 12-year-olds were touching the grass, marveling at it."
She says that both Basin Recreation and Park City have teamed up to make sure the fields are in pristine condition for the tournament weekend. In fact, they are even planning on adding a few new fields. Once Triple Crown has left, the city will add new soccer fields between the existing softball fields behind Treasure Mountain International School and the Park City School District offices. Basin Recreation will also create two new fields at Ecker Hill International Middle School as well as opening up its indoor turf at the Field House for some games.
Competition will run from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. during the three days, giving soccer enthusiasts constant action to watch at nearby fields. The high school-aged teams will play until 10 p.m. under the lights at Quinn’s Junction. Both girls and boys ages eight through high school will compete in the event. The U-9 (ages eight-and-under) division was recently added after lots of interest was expressed. That age group will play at the Field House and older teams will play at all of the local soccer fields, including Ecker Hill, Trailside, Willow Creek, Quinn’s Junction and the North 40 fields and the newly-created fields nearby.
Gillwald is especially excited about the addition of the high school teams. In general, high school students that play on their school teams can’t play in August tournaments because it is a violation of school activity rules, but because the Extreme Cup starts on July 31, they were able to invite high school teams. In the older division, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 teams will all compete.
Although the high school athletes will be more recognizable, Fox and Gillwald agree that the all of the tournament action should be exciting. In each age bracket, there is a silver and gold division. Gillwald said that the gold division will feature premier teams that should offer exciting competition. She said that last year the U-14 premier finals went all the way to double overtime and a shootout just to determine a champion.
Gillwald expects the tournament to continue to grow, but acknowledges that Park City will simply not have enough field space. She hopes to expand the tournament into eastern Summit County and create further partnerships with the communities there.
"Both the city and the county have recommended going in that direction," she said.
They may also start becoming more selective in an effort to make the Extreme Cup one of the top youth tournaments in the region.
But for now, the club is just focused on managing this year’s event. Now that Powerade has signed on as a presenting sponsor, the tournament will feature a skills test on Saturday in addition to the non-stop soccer action. Gillwald said that the local support should really make the Cup something to remember.
"We were able to gather tons of support," Gillwald said.
"They have been awesome," Fox agreed.
For more information on the Powerade Extreme Cup, visit http://www.parkcitysoccer.org. Go the tournament link to download the event schedule.