DIGBY – The Digby Area Soccer Association celebrated 20 years of offering organized soccer in Digby at their annual awards ceremony.
Lisanne Turner opened the evening Aug. 24 with a speech recapping the past 20 years and the development of the club.
“Digby Minor Soccer, the club’s orginal name, was founded in 1996 by a group of four parents who saw their children had an interest in soccer and took the lead on starting something in the community.
“I was on the field in those early days, in U9. It was awkward and new.
“Most of us played in sneakers without jerseys or proper equipment. The first balls we used were a bag of size 5s DARC gave the group – just one bag for the whole club.
[LETTER TO THE EDITOR - 20 years of organized soccer in Digby; letter from Danielle LeBlanc]
“We played co-ed, half-field and shared positions. Most of our games were played in fun tournaments.
“The first nets were heavy green fishing nets that hung down like a curtain.
"Parents coached, because who else was going to? If soccer was new to them, they worked hard to learn, took courses and read books.
“Organizers advocated for Digby to become a part of the Valley District League so as not to be left behind in competition.
“While it was awkward during this time of establishment and growth, the beauty of soccer is that the game requires minimal equipment and basic skills can be easily taught and learned.
“We have reached a point now where Digby teams are winning championships and medaling at provincials.
“Soccer in general, in Nova Scotia and Canada, has advanced incredibly in the past 20 years. In 1996, we didn’t see soccer on our televisions here in Digby, and we couldn’t watch it online because online didn’t exist.
“We had to visit specialty soccer shops, maybe one or two in the whole province for our equipment and we had one female soccer idol.
“Anyone else have Mia Hamm posters on their walls?
“While somewhat present on the world stage in the last century, Canadian national teams didn’t reach international prominence until the early 2000’s and our Canadian women’s team now has two Olympic bronze and we hosted the Women’s World Cup last year – a phenomenal opportunity for us to watch this caliber of play.
“So why am I talking about international competitions and Olympic medals? Because our little soccer club of 200 in our little town is a part of all that.
“Soccer, in our community, is on a continuum. Many players enter at age three and move through the levels. In their time with the soccer club, they help with fundraising or events, they might become referees or coaches and eventually, they might end up in retirement on one of our senior teams and volunteer on the board.
“As players move up through the age groups and find variopus ways to give back to the club, new players are always joining. In 20 years, this had resulted in players growing up and becoming coaches, which means this generation of soccer players are coached by people who played soccer as children. Soon our children will be coached by people whose coaches played soccer as children.
“This only makes our soccer community stronger and it is showing here in Digby and across the province and country.
“Our soccer club is not only developing players but leaders too.
“This cycle of involvement was demonstrated a few years back when we revised the club by-laws. The older version we worked from was signed by Greg Turner, Mitch Ettinger and Bob Eisener. On the board reviewing the by-laws was Jonathan Ettinger, Heather Eisener and myself, Lisanne Turner.
“Every year we have a number of incredible youth volunteers. Their dedication and knowledge is so valueable and beneficial to our players.
“We also have a unique board of directors: there are nine of us but only one who has children who play soccer. The rest of us simply came through the program in Digby and want to see it succeed and help kids have the opportunity we had to play soccer.
“It is unusual to have a youth sport volunteer base consist of more youth and community members than parents.
“There are sustainability concerns around this because parents have a more grounded stake in the future of a youth organization.
“That brings me back to parents who started this all and the countless parents that continue their work.
“The parent’s didn’t just observe their child’s interest in soccer and hope someone started something.
They talked to people, held meetings, made phone calls, asked for help and kicked balls with us on the field.
“Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
“You fostered an interest in so many of us that became a lifelong passion and you helped make soccer a concrete part of this community.
“Your hard work continues every day someone steps on our fields with a soccer ball.
“Everyone here today is a part of where our Digby soccer community has been in the last 20 years and a part of where it is going.”
Charlotte Sabean added that the club has also developed a strong referee program with referees officiating at provincial and even national level.
The Keith Trimper Award
DASA presents their highest award, the Keith Trimper Award every year to an U16 or U14 player who shows the qualities exemplified by Keith Trimper, a Digby soccer player who died in 2008.
“Their love for the game and the joy that soccer brings must be obvious to everyone including teammates, coaches, referees and fans. Recipients must be respectful to everyone, portray a positive presence on the field and be a pleasure to coach.”
Molly MacNaughton of the U14 girls team received the Keith Trimper Award this year.
Coach Megan Hersey’
“Molly MacNaughton consistently puts her all into the sport and her joy for the game is undeniable. Molly shows true sportsmanship in all aspects of the sport and is respectful of those involved.
Molly not only pushes herself to excel at the game but is also encouraging of others to achieve their greatest potential. Molly provides a positive prescence both on and off the field. She exemplifies the ideal player any coach would feel privileged to coach. Both her skill and work ethih are positive contributions to the team.
Molly’s love for the game can be easily seen every moment she is on the field. Her love of the game is infectious and her drive to be the best player she can be is evident at every practice and every game.”
Spencer Hazel of the U14 boys was also nominated for the Keith Trimper Award by his coaches Riley LeBlanc and Peter Janson.
Hazels’s nomination is below.
“Spencer Hazel is a first year player who has made a impact that is impossible to ignore.
Spencer was one of the most positive influences on the team, both on and off the field. He was dedicated to ensuring both he and his teammates gave their all whenever they stepped onto the pitch. He has acted as a leader without ever being asked to do so and set a great example of how to represent our community and soccer club by always playing his hardest while remaining respectful and encouraging those around him to do the same.
In many ways he exemplifies the same passion for the game and dedication to growing both as a player and a person as Keith.”
The Brenton Merritt Award
Megan Rogers received the Brenton Merritt Award for excellence displayed by a referee.
“Megan Rogers has been an incredible referee over the past year as well as playing for the Tigers Senior Womens team.
“She is a referee that we can depend on, someone who has been at every game she possibly could and an official who shows great regard for both the players and the game. She displays all the qualities of a great referee both on and off the field: punctuality, fair play and the ability to make the right call when one is necessary.”
Digby Area Soccer Association Awards 2016
Keith Trimper Award: Molly MacNaughton
Honorable Mention: Spencer Hazel
Brenton Merritt Award: Megan Rogers
Coach’s: Lauren Sollows
3D*: Madison Brown
Most Improved: Alexa Custance
MVP: Alex Barr
Most Improved: Orion Joudrey
Coach’s: Braedon Merritt
3D: Stacey Andrews
Most dedicated: Sarah Roach
Coach’s: Jasmine Doucette
Tough as Nails: Joe Cooper
MVP: Myles Titus
Coach’s: Carson Fancy
Coach’s: Graham Cromwell
MVP: Bailey Bishop
MVP: Brett Potter
Coach’s: Aleigha Andrews
MVP: Abbey Thomas
MVP: Heather Campbell
MVP: Megan Rogers
3D: Amanda Bradley
3D: Danielle LeBlanc
*The 3D Award is for determination, dedication and desire.