Tijeras resident Amber Pearce said her two boys got their East Mountain AYSO uniforms in March, and their team even got to play its first game.
“They were so excited, they love soccer,” Pearce said.
Her boys, 11-year-old Samuel and 13-year-old Corban, who Pearce said have been playing since they could walk, also were on the same team for the first time in years, “so they were real excited to be playing with each other.”
Then the coronavirus pandemic put everything on hold.
Like other youth sports programs, East Mountain AYSO Region 671—the local league affiliated with the American Youth Soccer Organization—initially suspended its spring season. But a couple of weeks ago, the league decided to officially pull the plug, according to regional commissioner James Dominguez.
“After looking at the guidance from the governor, and National AYSO information and logistics, we decided to cancel,” Dominguez said.
“My boys were definitely bummed,” Pearce said.
“For me, mostly it was shocking because I didn’t expect this to be a huge thing,” Corban Pearce said, adding, “This was gonna be my last year playing soccer so it was also really frustrating.” Corban, a rising eighth grader, said he hopes to play football in the fall at Edgewood Middle School.
Dominguez said East Mountain AYSO has two eight-week seasons, one in the spring and another in the fall. The spring season, which had around 250 to 275 registered players, runs March through May. The fall season, which tends to get more players, runs August through October.
“They left it up to the regions,” Dominguez said about National AYSO’s guidelines. “And we looked at, could we actually get a season in, and it seemed like it would be really hard.”
“Honestly, we weren’t surprised but we were really bummed out,” said Tera Dick, whose 11-year-old son was signed up to play. “We were hoping that maybe they’d decide to go ahead and play and when we got the email [about the cancelation] it just felt like one more thing that got taken away, so yeah, it was a bummer.”
Dominguez said there has been very little response from parents regarding the cancellation, adding, “I hope they understand and they’re content with us taking their kids’ safety in mind.”
East Mountain AYSO usually holds camps and clinics during the summer, and Dominguez said, “Hopefully we can try to get those going again to get kids out and keep their skills up, but we’re going to be flexible.”
The league has begun the process of issuing refunds for the spring season and Dominguez said, “They should be hitting people’s accounts this week.”
Registration for the fall season is scheduled to get underway on July 1.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.