In one season of soccer, there are plenty of inconsistencies ranging everywhere from the team’s performance to who shows up week in and week out. This is even more apparent in recreational soccer, but players in Canton Youth Soccer Association know that one consistency will be an end of the year party for all players filled with snacks, activities and awards. Canton celebrated its Fall 2017 end of the year party on Nov. 11.
“I started volunteering in 2015, and we got the idea to do an end of the season party, since some of the coaches would just hand out the awards at the end of the last game,” Canton President Danica Harris said. “We wanted to have one big party at the end of the year for all kids.”
While the end of the year party started out small, the attendance has grown every season, culminating in every team being represented at the Spring 2017 end of the year party. Each player gets to have their named called to receive their award, and players are treated to activities, which have included bounce houses, soccer pool, and face painting in the past.
“It varies each time, but we try to have a theme every time. In the spring we had a luau theme, and the season before that we had a thankful theme where everyone brought a can food item to donate,” Harris said. “We try to have something for all ages. Not everyone has a team party, so we try to give one to everyone.”
Harris noted that over half of the players, ranging from Under-4 to Under-16 were in attendance for the previous end of the season party, and the party provides an additional opportunity for players to interact with each other.
“Most of the players go to the same school, but some don’t, so this allows them to interact with players in the age group for three hours of fun,” Harris said. “The parents also get to know each other and build relationships in the soccer family.”
In its three years of existence, the end of the season party has evolved into a fixture in the Canton schedule, so much so that Harris now is asked routinely when the end of the season party will be scheduled.
“I’m a very involved coach, and we had parties at the end of the season. We had silly string after every game, but I knew that each team was different,” Harris said. “So we wanted to pick something where players on every team could get that experience of being told good job. Not every kid has that support system, but they do at this event.”
In addition to the end of the year party, Canton continues to stay involved in the community by participating in events like having a Homecoming float and doing a Pink Out in October as a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ultimately, Harris wants to create an inclusive environment circled around soccer.
“We are doing this for the kids. Every year they look forward to a birthday party, and now they have and end of season celebration at the end of eight weeks of soccer,” Harris said. “It’s a happy time and a reward for a season whether it was good or bad. It is something fun that allows them to socialize and realize soccer is fun.”