Koehler controls the ball as he and his NOSO team practiced
in preparation for this weekend’s NOSO Cup Tournament. At least
136 teams in 10 age groups will be competing beginning at 8
a.m. Saturday. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
Cup still going strong
By Jim Horvath
Published July 2, 2008
When the North Olmsted Soccer Organization began its
annual NOSO Cup Tournament, there were 16 boys teams in four age
groups, according to longtime tournament director Tom Hatfield.
136 teams, 66 of them girls teams, in 10 age groups will compete
throughout North Olmsted and surrounding areas in the 31st NOSO
Cup Saturday and Sunday. Games will start at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s very gratifying
to see this tournament grow and do so well,” said Hatfield, who
actually worked the concession stands the first year the event was
held. “The first year we had four groups of four boys teams in four
age groups: U12, U14, U16 and U19. That’s how it all began.
“This will be
my 30th year, because there was actually one year I didn’t run it,”
said Hatfield. “I think it was 1985 when I became director, and
I’ve had it ever since. We’ve been going strong ever since then.”
The NOSO Cup
serves a dual purpose depending on where the teams are coming from.
For many teams, it serves as the end of their season, while other
teams, like the ones from Canada, are just beginning their seasons,
Hatfield explained. Over the years, American teams have come from
as far away as El Paso, Texas and Florida. International teams have
come from places such as Montreal, Canada and Ireland, France and
Grazia takes a shot on goal during a team practice last Thursday.
NOSO will have 11 teams participating in this weekend’s annual
NOSO Cup Tournament. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet).
This year’s foreign entry is the Lewis United Youth
U15 team from Aberdeen, Scotland. Closer to home, there are teams
from New York, Pennsylvania and Canada. And the Westshore area is
well represented with boys and girls teams from Bay Village, Westlake,
Lutheran West, Rocky River, Fairview and North Olmsted. NOSO has
11 teams, while Thom Clark’s Cleveland Kickers Soccer Club is bringing
in 13 teams of his own.
“We always have
a good number of community teams, which is nice,” said Hatfield.
“And we’ve had some pretty good players come through here. I remember
when Brad Friedel was a young boy playing with the Bay Firecrackers
from 1984 to 1986. His team won the championship twice.”
The rest of
Ohio is well represented, with local teams from Avon Lake, North
Ridgeville, Lakewood, Strongsville and Parma Heights. Teams from
Maumee, Akron, Poland, Mansfield and Findlay also dot the tournament
“We’ve had some
pretty exciting matches over the years,” said Marcus McQueen, NOSO
Cup’s director of publicity and veteran of 22 tournaments.
“One year, the
team from El Paso wore the uniforms of the Mexican national team,”
said McQueen. “Those kids had some ball handling skills you couldn’t
believe, and they were taking on the Ohio Premier team in the finals.
The team from El Paso was a very good team, and I think there were
more people rooting for them than the Ohio squad.”
early on, a game between North Ireland and a team from St. Louis.
There had to be and estimated 1,000 fans ringed around Field No.
1 that day,” said Hatfield.
The main purpose
of the tournament was to measure NOSO teams against some of the
best competition in the Midwest, said Hatfield.
“We wanted to
see how our teams would compete against teams from outside the area,”
said Hatfield. “I remember one year in the 1980s, we had our boys
U12, U14, U16 andU19 teams all advance to the Region II Tournament
for United States Soccer. That was up in Minnesota, and I remember
we all went up there in buses.
“But our tournament
here was one of the first of its kind in the Midwest. We’d get a
lot of teams from places like St. Louis because there weren’t a
lot of tournaments for teams in this part of the country to compete
in. Now, the environment is a lot different. The sport has grown,
plus with the price of gas some teams aren’t willing to travel as
far. We’ve actually done pretty well this year considering gas is
over $4 per gallon,” he said.
used to be a three-day event, but was shortened to a two-day affair
to accommodate the July 4 holiday. New blood has been eased into
running the event, such as Miguel Cora, NOSO’s Vice President. He’s
been with the organization five years, and this will be his third
“I commend these
guys for being involved with this for so long,” said Cora. “A ton
of people are involved to make sure things come together. It’s really
become a team effort, a sight to behold. And what can you say about
Tom. You really have to be dedicated to be involved for as long
as he has.”
There are numerous
people involved, such as Wayne Wilson, who helps with field preparation,
and Jerry Bahnij, who helps with the referees. Jennifer McGuire
is the tournament’s associate director, while Marty Hayes does the
the help of surrounding communities as well. The Cleveland United
Soccer Club in North Ridgeville is letting NOSO use three fields,
and fields in Westlake are being used as well, such as the one at
St. John’s Westshore. Most of the fields in North Olmsted, including
Community Park and the high school, will be in use as well.
For more information
on this year’s tournament, including the match schedule, go to www.nososoccer.org.