Exploring McClellan: Soccer
by Larry May
Special to The Star
Dec 06, 2013 | 1405 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City of Anniston’s Parks and Recreations Department boasts spacious athletic facilities that include a new Aquatic Center and baseball/softball fields at McClellan. But their soccer fields and programs are home for much more than just piercing green grass and nets. Darren Spruill harbors high hopes for the tract of land that he oversees each week. He is also in charge of the McClellan basketball program and plans to watch it grow each season.

Spruill gave insight to his focus on soccer by saying, “We just finished soccer the last week of October after starting in August. A big part of soccer is Monday Night Academy where we can watch the kids advance and also spend time with the volunteer coaches to assist them as their experience grows. They get a chance to watch professional coaches do drills and run a practice. We don’t charge for this because we feel it’s important to help the program grow. The rest of the week is more standard with games on Saturdays. We also offer TOTS (Teach Our Toddlers Soccer) as a six-week course and hope to expand that into baseball. We teach ages one and a half up to three and half. We also had to add an age group because of demand. We will do it with basketball when we get room”.

Weather is not a concern for soccer participants. Spruill said, “We offer inside soccer at the therapeutic center on Saturdays. It’s for the older kids and it is completely free form pick up games. We offer it for kids that don’t sign up for basketball but still want to stay active. It also gives parents a break from showing up for scheduled games each week”.

Basketball season is beginning and Spruill has expanded the traditional schedule. “Registration is starting now. We’ll split up teams and order uniforms. The season will start first week of January. We will have adult leagues starting, but our focus is always the children first”, he explained.

Baseball will ramp in the spring of 2014 as will softball. Spruill explained, “We have closed Woodland Park and will have our entire season at McClellan. The complex will now be for both softball and baseball. We will have girl’s softball tournaments and adult softball leagues here as well as PARD leagues. Saturdays will be really busy here because we want to sell the experience as very family friendly. We want the entire family to make it to the games”.

The Parks and Recreation Department will also offer football and plans are afoot for the upcoming season. “We are focused on cost this year. We want to keep equipment costs down. That’s important to us. We try really hard to make it so that everyone can afford to play. Most of the high school players you see in the newspaper started with us. They come from all the area schools to play with PARD ball”, he said.

The soccer fields are home to Relay For Life and other events are planned in coming months. Spruill would like to see a community movie night at the fields.

Much like the other aspects of McClellan, there has been tremendous growth and room for much more. Many might consider Spruill’s job just yeoman’s work, but his passion for his kids and fields would dispel that rather quickly. One just needs to listen to him describing his equation for sustained success at McClellan. When community involvement and inspired work ethic come together the fields at McClellan just might offer more than grass stained uniforms and cheering parents.
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Exploring McClellan: Soccer by Larry May
Special to The Star

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