Stingers extend helping hand to 285 Corridor

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By Michael Hicks

It’s been four years since Zac Crawford came on board with the Stingers Soccer Club, and it’s always been a goal of his to grow the program into the surrounding communities outside of Evergreen. He was just waiting for the right person to come along.
That’s where Mark Friederich comes in.
Wanting to build soccer up the 285 Corridor, the Conifer High School assistant boys and girls soccer coach answered Crawford’s call to bring a youth program to the community in what Friederich hopes will become a feeder program for the Lobos.
Conifer will offer an introductory program with teams ranging from U-6 to U-11 starting this fall, Friederich said. Teams will practice on donated field at Conifer Community Park at Beaver Ranch during the week, he said, before playing games on the weekend.
“The ideas is to start small. Can we get between 50 and 100 kids?” Crawford asked. “Basically, we’ll be practicing once a week with a volunteer coach and playing games on Sunday.”
Those games will be held throughout September at Conifer High School, Friederich said. Then teams will move to Marshdale Elementary to play Evergreen squads.
The Stingers Soccer Club has looked before into moving into the Conifer district, but a variable of factors always stood in the way.
“They reached out to the 285 Corridor, but it was always inviting them to come join us here in Evergreen, play here in Evergreen,” Friederich said. “I think the key is that the 285 Corridor is really a self-contained community and Evergreen is a different community.”
Crawford said that one major hurdle was field availability.
“For us, it’s always been a matter of fields,” the Stingers’ general manager said. “Fields have always been an issue.”
But now that they have the fields it’s a matter of getting the players. Crawford hopes the 285 Corridor program will bring in anywhere from 50-100 players in its first year and eventually grow to as many as 500 players within three years.
Opening up a program in the Conifer market would cut down driving time for parents and players as well. Kevin Avery, a parent volunteer and father of three players, is all for the 285 Corridor program.
“I think it would be huge. It’s a lot closer for the kids, especially during the school year,” he said. “They spend all day in school, grab a quick bite of dinner and then they’re back in the car driving 45 minutes. Then when they’re done with practice it’s 45 minutes home, homework and bed. Then there’s another practice in two days.”
Now they won’t have to worry about that as much.
Having fun is key. That’s where Henry Aiyenero, the director of coaching for the Stingers, comes in. His fun-loving style of teaching had the 30-plus players at Marshdale Elementary on Aug. 1 wanting more.
“At this age level right now for us is to make sure they are loving the game and we’re making it fun. That’s what brings more kids to play the game,” Aiyenero said.
A closer location and kids ready to embrace the game adds up to what Friederich hopes is a win-win situation not just for Conifer, but for the community as a whole.

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.