Portageville team is making soccer history
Just four years after the birth of a soccer league in Portageville, kids are making history.
Five years ago, soccer was a virtually unknown sport in Portageville. A couple of parents who attended Living Stone Baptist Church were driving their children to play soccer in other communities. They suggested to the pastor, Todd Higgs, that he consider starting a league in Portageville.
Growing up in Tennessee, Higgs played soccer and remained involved with the sport until moving to Portageville. Having coached tee ball for several years, he knew younger children especially would enjoy the energetic pace of soccer, while also benefitting from the teamwork, athleticism, agility, & endurance the game would teach. At the time, there were no other sports offered for children prior to third grade.
As Higgs shared his plan, he soon found another community member who shared a passion for the sport: Chris Stinnett, who grew up playing in Sikeston. Stinnett quickly volunteered his help, excited to share his love for the sport with his two sons and other children in the community. The two presented a plan for a program that would be virtually self-funding to the Portageville Park Board, who enthusiastically approved.
In 2014, the Portageville Youth Soccer league began with 51 children playing in one age group, K-1st grade. The program gradually expanded to include four age groups in Pre-K through 6th grade. In 2017, 176 children participated.
Community support has been key. As the league expanded to include older children, other fall sports coaches willingly adjusted practice and game schedules to accommodate the additional sport. The community has welcomed the sport, even learning the unfamiliar rules of the sport. Higgs smiled this year when he heard one parent explaining the often-confusing offside rule to another during a game.
A special thanks goes to all those who have given their time to coach. “We know coaching a sport you maybe never played is not an easy task, so thank you for your willingness to learn and pass along that knowledge to the kids,” said Stinnett. “We would also like to thank the local businesses who have generously sponsored teams which allows to keep registration fees low”
Last year, Stinnett began an all-star (or “select”) soccer team, the Portageville Storm. In just their 2nd season, the team has started to see much success. The name “Storm” is a tribute to Stinnett’s high school coach, mentor and life-long friend, Bill Lawson. The team has participated in two years of tournament play in both Cape Girardeau and Sikeston Tournaments.
“Last year we had a tough season winning only one of six games. This year was a different story. These kids have put Portageville on the map when it comes to soccer. When you mention ‘Storm’, other towns now know who we are”, said Stinnett.
This year, under the direction of both Stinnett and Higgs, Storm placed second in their division in the Cape tournament against Desoto, Farmington, and Kennett. They followed that by winning their division in the Sikeston tournament against Kennett and two different teams from Farmington. Congratulations to the Portageville Storm for a great season!