This year, Oyster River celebrates its 60th anniversary of running a thriving high school soccer program. With 13 state championships under their belt, an event will be hosted in the fall that commemorates the success of past and current Oyster River soccer players.
On September 25th, players, alumni, and parents alike will gather for an all-day event called September Soccer Saturday to celebrate 60 years of boy’s soccer and 45 years of girl’s soccer at Oyster River High School. The event will provide all alumni of the Oyster River soccer program the opportunity to reunite and make connections with current players. Alumni will also be offered the chance to participate in a game the Friday evening before the main event. The day will be filled with athletic activities, with a soccer clinic for younger players in the morning and girls and boys varsity games against Coe-Brown beginning in the afternoon. In addition to celebrating the achievements of Oyster River soccer, the event will also serve as a major fundraiser for a press box to accompany the new grandstand bleachers.
“The purpose of the event is two-fold. The first and primary is to celebrate soccer at Oyster River for the girls and the boys teams and the first championships they won… Second is to fundraise for the pressbox that we’re building behind the stands,” said Akan Ekanem, boys varsity soccer coach and contributor to the planning committee. The agenda of the event consists of soccer activities and games spanning all day, beginning with a skills clinic targeting younger players in the community.
Run by the Oyster River girls varsity soccer coach Cyd Scarano and Ekanem, younger players aged 9-14 years interested in improving their soccer skills are invited to attend a youth clinic from 9:00am to 11:00am. The clinic will focus on skills development and will conclude with a small-sided game. Participants and parents are invited to stay for the remainder of the day to enjoy the girls and boys varsity games.
At 2:00pm, the Oyster River girls varsity soccer team will compete against Oyster River’s rival, Coe-Brown, on the Oyster River turf field. At 4:00pm, the boys varsity soccer team will do the same. “For the soccer alums that come back, we have carved out time for them to be recognized and be honored in a ceremonial fashion. Before the girls and boys games against Coe-Brown, we will have all of the [alumni] come onto the field and recognize them for their contributions [to the program],” said Scarano. She continued, saying that “it’s a great way to recognize the alumni that have done great things for the school and for [current players] to get to know them a little bit and make some connections.”
Alumni will be given the opportunity to reunite as a team on the field while playing under the lights on the Friday night prior to September Soccer Saturday. Charlie Crull, former boys varsity coach, will be running a Friday night mini-tournament called the Alumni Cup. This tournament will include small-sided games with both men and women beginning at 7:00pm. This will provide soccer alumni the chance to reminisce, socialize, and revive the Oyster River team comradery that they shared when they played in their high school years.
Michael Brayton (‘71), Oyster River soccer alum, expressed his excitement for this portion of the event. Looking back, he described that the best part of playing was “really the friendships, when you really get down to it… the camaraderie on the team was really outstanding.” Traveling all the way from Sarasota, Florida, Brayton looks forward to reconnecting with his teammates that contributed to the Oyster River victory in the state championships of 1968 and 1970. “It’s a chance to see a lot of my old friends that I haven’t seen for a long time,” he said.
With a full itinerary established, Ekanem explained how this will benefit the current soccer program. “There are a lot of different ways by which current players will benefit from the involvement of some of our alumni… it’s great to have alumni that are connected in the sports world [and] they can definitely bring a lot more to bear than just ‘hey we’ll donate.’” With some alumni who pursued their passion for soccer at a collegiate level attending the event, many high school players interested in following the same path may have the opportunity to talk to alumni about their experiences and get advice from them. In addition to advice and stories, alumni may offer connections to universities and recruiters.
Registration for September Soccer Saturday is available via the Google Forms link found on the Oyster River Athletics website. Ekenam said that everyone in the community “who wants to be involved with sports at Oyster River, specifically the soccer program” is welcome and encouraged to attend the event. In addition to the option for general admission to the varsity games, there will be a variety of choices for packages offered in the event registration.
The baseline price for participants choosing to attend the boys and girls varsity soccer games is $10 per person, with a $25 family rate. Attendees will have other options available for purchasing, such as a commemorative package that includes a T-shirt with logos designed by Wolfe Ramsay (‘21) and Elijah Edwards, a memorial coin, and a sticker. T-shirts will also be offered as add-ons for registration for an additional fee. Sandwiches catered by The Works will be offered for pre-order and available during the event starting at 6:00pm. Charge for the morning clinic is $25 per child and $5 per additional family member; attendance for the remainder of the event is included in this price.
As of now, September Soccer Saturday is being planned with the assumption that COVID-19 will still be a risk in the fall. Scarano said that the event will be safe and conscious of the risk of COVID-19 spread. “We will definitely be under the guidance of COVID-19 protocols, whatever they may be at the time,” she said.
Paul Bamford, the head organizer of the event, is hopeful for a great turnout for the celebration of 60 years of Oyster River soccer. He said that, “I think everyone realizes that we were, and still are, a soccer power and it’s been a consistent program throughout the years.”