By Will Petersen
For the Courier
Elli Rouse wanted to look scary.
The 11 year-old had two big streaks of eye black perfectly applied on each side of her nose. The problem? Both were accompanied by a douse of purple and red glitter on top.
Rouse and a string of other young and well-spoken volunteers, all affiliated with the Stingers Soccer Club, helped pull off the fourth annual Pam’s Jam, a round-robin soccer jamboree, at Marshdale Elementary School on May 18.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s going to be helpful in the future that I get this leadership experience,” Rouse said.
The event honors the legacy of former Stingers President Pam Christensen, who died unexpectedly in 2009. More than 300 kids ages 4 to 10 played three soccer games throughout the day and wrapped up the club season on a positive note.
“It’s great to give back to the club. It gets bigger and better every year. It’s a time to have fun, play soccer and get some more experience,” event director Amy Mason said.
The atmosphere could best be described, well, as jamming. Music blasted throughout the fields and along with the DJ tent kids had the opportunity to get their faces painted, eat barbecue and slurp down a smoothie from Jamba Juice.
“It’s beautiful to see so many kids in one place enjoying all the activities and an awesome game,” Stingers general manager Zac Crawford said.
The event needed adults such as Mason and Crawford to be pulled off from a logistics standpoint, but seriously, it wouldn’t be a success without the help of young volunteers like Rouse and fellow Stingers Leadership Core member Lexi Langer.
The two girls, along with a handful of other youth volunteers, helped with keeping games on schedule, refereeing and general organization throughout the day.
“This is such a fun event and I’m lucky to be apart of it. It’s great to help out the club that has developed me so much and be able to give back to them,” Langer said.
Suzanne Langer, Lexi’s mom, calls herself a ‘dedicated soccer mom’ and is also on the Stingers Board of Directors. The elder Langer is proud to see her daughter get involved with a leadership position.
“It’s something she’ll have her whole lifetime. It’s a great opportunity for someone this young to get experience for the future,” Suzanne Langer said.
All the kids, whether on the leadership core or not, seemed to be learning important values throughout the day. At one point, two boys on opposing sides crashed into each other during a highly contested battle for a loose ball. One young man popped up, helped his competitor up, and within seconds both were back in the action.
The event, although a lot of work to organize, was by all accounts a smashing success and will be a staple of Stingers Soccer Club and the Evergreen community for years to come.
“This whole day feels like winning the World Cup. The smiles on the kids faces make all the hard work worth it,” Crawford said.