Bethesda tournament scrambles – successfully – to cope with Sandy repercussions
By Charles Boehm
Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, but the massive, destructive “Frankenstorm” was still wreaking havoc more than a week later – even on a Maryland soccer tournament.
The Bethesda Soccer Club’s 29th Annual Thanksgiving Tournament opened Nov. 9 with Girls Weekend play, and continues with its Boys Weekend today through Sunday. It’s a large event with a wide-ranging reputation – this year’s edition features teams from as far afield as Nigeria, Canada and Puerto Rico – and a large number of participants from New York and New Jersey typically journey down I-95 to take part.
And when many members of those teams saw their lives thrown into chaos by Sandy, some had to cancel the trip. That kicked off a domino effect that left Bethesda officials scrambling.
“It was a combination: Several people towards the shore in New Jersey and New York had lost houses,” recalled tournament director Brad Roos.
“Electricity was out – as of at least last Thursday was still out. They’d been out of school. The gas was a huge thing – there was gas-rationing so there was no gas available for them to even come. So that was a big issue.”
The storm inflicted death and devastation on much of the Tri-State region, so it was understandable if soccer had to take a back seat to more pressing priorities. That still left Roos and his staff with lots of work to do.
“For last weekend, we lost probably a good 30 teams,” Roos told Soccer Wire this week, “and so we had to redo every schedule from U-12 to U-19 last Wednesday and Thursday, which was a huge undertaking.
“It started trickling down from about eight days out until like, two days before. I was trying to replace teams as they were dropping but then after a while, I just waited until the Wednesday before the weekend.”
The late arrival of the teams from Columbus Academy, a soccer club based in Abuja, Nigeria which also visited the D.C. area in June of 2010, threw another curveball. But thanks to a positive response from other members of the region’s soccer community, Roos and his colleagues lined up other games for Columbus’ girls teams, including two this weekend.
A former BSC coach and club president whose full-time job title is recreation supervisor for Montgomery County, Md., Roos has been involved with the planning and execution of the tournament for 20 years. Though anyone who has ever done match scheduling knows how painstaking and time-intensive the process can be, he makes light of the extra work caused by the storm-related cancellations.
“This kind of stuff just doesn’t bother me. It is what it is,” he said, noting that a few teams from Sandy-affected areas have had Friday matches removed from their schedules so their children would not have to miss additional school. “This weekend we only lost four teams, so we were able to fill every spot of the four teams. So it’s really not affecting us that badly this week.
“Let’s say a division had 18 teams, we just contracted down to 14 teams and re-did the schedules based upon that. So it did make for some creative scheduling, but it worked out fine.”
The Boys Weekend of the tournament takes place at the Maryland SoccerPlex and other Montgomery County field sites this weekend.