John Custer, Eureka Sports Association (ESA) president, said "it takes a village" to operate with an entirely volunteer board, parent volunteer coaches and teenage umpires, and very few paid field and concession stand staff.
“I believe ESA is stronger than it has ever been," he said. "We have great leadership in place right now with our current board, and have fostered a healthy and productive relationship with the Eureka’s Parks and Recreation Department. I believe we are in a good spot to grow the association and serve the needs of this community in ways that ESA has never been able to before.”
Most residents are unaware that ESA is the only association in the St. Louis County Athletic Association that shares its facilities with a host of city-sponsored activities. ESA also is the only association that changes their facilities over from baseball/softball to soccer every August. Although challenging, the Parks Department and the ESA board of directors work together with the same goal in mind: to provide a learning experience and enjoyable environment for youth sports in Eureka.
Rich Blum, ESA training league baseball coordinator, concurs, “It really is all about the kids and the families. Playing sports is a fantastic way for parents to teach focus, discipline, resilience and how to build confidence in a very fun and exciting way. As board members, we spend a lot of time making sure ESA is organized with well-maintained fields, quality coaches and open lines of communication. I’m also a parent and a volunteer coach through the Association. I want the whole experience to be positive for everyone involved.”
ESA is wrapping up the 2012 baseball/softball season. This year, the Association has enjoyed 650 kids ranging in age from pre-K to high school. The Association offers both baseball and softball, and hosts a St. Louis County baseball/softball tournament and a Father’s Day Baseball tournament.
Soccer season is right around the corner, and ESA board leaders said they feel that they have an opportunity to really expand their program.
Many of the baseball/softball associations, such as Pond Athletic Association and Ellisville don’t offer soccer, so ESA is intensifying their marketing efforts to attract new families in these areas.
Tammie Woodruff, soccer coordinator for ESA said, “Soccer is huge in this region! Our goal is to offer a competitive quality soccer program. We feel like by doing this we can provide a great service to this community.”
The soccer program has undergone a lot of changes from years past. The board leadership for soccer has completely changed, and their immediate focus has been to simplify the registration process, increase and improve training for referees and strengthen communication between ESA, coaches, and parents. They also reduced the price to bring in more participants.
Many parents are not aware ESA provides a scholarship option for families. The 2012 scholarship program was made possible by the generosity of the Eureka-Pacific Elks Lodge. Sixteen kids were able to participate in baseball/softball and soccer because of their generosity.
Sarah George, ESA softball coordinator, said, “If any parent comes to us with a need for financial assistance, we provide it. We work with them to find the right option; whether that is arranging a scholarship for the full amount, making provisions for them to only pay a portion, or simply allowing them to make monthly payments. ESA is committed to this community and we want to serve everyone.”
ESA Soccer registration is open from now until Aug. 1. To register, or to get more information on ESA and its programs, go to the Association's website by clicking here.
Editor's Note: Julie Wood is the director of economic development for Eureka.