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Stingers soccer now has a rival

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By Vicky Gits

A group of Evergreen area parents is coming together to form an alternative soccer program under the umbrella of Colorado Rush of Littleton, a nonprofit soccer club with 5,000 players in Colorado.

The move comes in the wake of a reorganization by the Stingers Soccer Club, the dominant group in Evergreen with 900 players.

The new group has already scheduled soccer tryouts at Evergreen High School on Saturday, May 30, for under-11 girls from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and boys from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the upper high school field.

A meeting to introduce the Rush to parents was held May 19 at the El Rancho Quality Inn and attracted about 80 parents.

Some parents are dissatisfied with the Stingers board’s decision to downsize the job of top coach and general manager Ivan Jackson after eight years. Jackson has announced his resignation effective June 30. The girls director of coaching, Eddie Bairam, also has announced his resignation.

“What it comes down to is it feels very much to me as an individual this board seems to be functioning in somewhat of a vacuum,” said Celia Jensen, one of the proponents of the mountain-area Rush. “… They made the decision about reorganization in executive session and then announced it rather than asking the parents what they think.”

Jensen has four children, two of whom are currently in Stingers. Although she has been with the Stingers a total of 24 kid-seasons, Jensen is determined to make the break this year.

“The board doesn’t want to hear what the parents seem to be saying,” she said. “They are forcing Jackson to leave by cutting his salary. It’s very sad. He was passionate about soccer. … He was very responsive … But the board didn’t think so.”

The board cut Jackson’s salary from $98,000 a year to $67,000 and will hire five more part-time coaches earning $3,000 a year. The treasurer said the move was prompted by the realization that 2009-10 would produce a $38,000 deficit due to 71 fewer player registrations.

Jackson initially signed a contract for 2009-10 but has rescinded the agreement, and his last day will be when his current contract expires in June, said Julie Martin, a member of the Stingers board of directors.

Martin said tryouts for Stingers would be held Tuesday through Friday, May 26-29, as planned, at Marshdale Fields.

Martin defended the board’s decision to restructure and said it had not changed its mind. “A lot of what it came down to is the club with a new structure will be a much better club.”

“We don’t want people to switch,” Martin said. “But we think we can prove ourselves by soccer on the field and in the community. People have choices, and we understand that. We hope we can keep a vast majority of our kids and get those people back.

“Rush is really the polar opposite of community soccer,” she said.

The new group is working on a short timeline because soccer teams have to be registered with the state by early June.

Jensen said the players will both practice and play soccer in the mountains.

“It’s not about going down the hill,” she said. “It’s meant to be soccer here.” And, Conifer kids are welcome.

Tim Schulz, president and CEO of Colorado Rush, said if a team wants to stay intact under Rush, the group would keep them together and let them play.

“Our club is in the top 10 in the country. We have opportunities in various tournaments, a full-time staff and a college advisory program,” Schulz said.

Rush is known to have a proven methodology and consistently offers programs for kids with a “wide variety of passions from recreational to developmental,” Schulz said.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at klyder@msn.com.

Contact Vicky Gits at 303-350-1042 or vicky@evergreenco.com.