Warrior Classic soccer tournament celebrates 25th year

HUBER HEIGHTS – What do the numbers 8 million, 500, 25, and five have in common? They are all milestone numbers for the 25th annual adidas Warrior Classic, and the Warrior Soccer Club.

When first conceptualized three decades ago, tournament co-director Carol Maas said that about 50-60 teams were expected and 162 participated in the event.

“They came from all over,” she said.

Maas, who is now in her 25th year helping to oversee what is arguably the Dayton region’s premier youth soccer tournament, if not its premier youth sporting event, sees her participation with the adidas Warrior Classic as a true “labor of love.”

Asked if she has issues dealing with the complexities of managing the event Maas responded, “Some days yes, most days not.”

She went further to explain that from the very first tournament she knew she had “fallen in love” with the event as it was “very clear in my mind from the very first tournament we had.”

She has also been very pleased watching and observing a dedicated volunteer base grow in experience and dedication with the “progression of the tournament.”

This year the Warrior Soccer Club will add a fall event in October for the first time.

“We have had some people comment that they can see how what they have done for this event will work for the fall event,” Maas said.

Now about those numbers.
The event is expected to have an eight million dollar impact on the Dayton region, over 500 teams (about 512) are expected to participate in age division running from 6-years-old to adult, this is of course the 25th anniversary event, and five sites in two counties will host games. New to the event this year is the debut of the Warrior Soccer Complex off Fishburg Road in Huber Heights.

Maas said that the adidas Warrior Classic receives tremendous support from the city of Huber Heights, Montgomery County, and two primary sponsors, adidas and Kettering Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Center. Athletic apparel giant adidas came on board almost 20 years ago, and Kettering Medical has been on board from the outset, a fact drawing praise from Maas, “I think it is huge what Kettering Sports Medicine has done.”

As for her role, Maas does see a day in the not so distant future where she will be in a reduced role.

“I’m gradually trying to turn the jobs over,” she said. “When you get into an event with 500 teams there is a lot of work to do.”

Yet she said a personal motto has helped sustain her over the years when it comes to dealing with all of the work.
“You only eat an elephant one bite at a time,” she said.

Maas credits the support she has received from her family, including her husband Hank, who has worked as a scheduler and in field maintenance, as a blessing.

“My family is quite heavily involved,” she said, noting that her grandchildren are participating in the 2011 event. “It has been a family event.”

Though she has many memories from the past 24 events, two stand out, if not because of their significance but for their reminding her that without the dedicated support of adidas Warrior Classic volunteers there would be no event.

“We played over at fields at Wright-Patterson AFB until 9/11 (2001), and it was about 10th or 12th event,” she said, reminiscing. “At the Friday night registration event we had at the Dayton Marriot (a tradition that carries on to this day) we heard and saw the thunder and lightning moving into the area.

“The next day when we went to the fields at WPAFB (near the National Museum of the USAF) all of our tents had fallen down,” she said due to the storm the previous night. “Our volunteers took what they could find, using what was not damaged and we had what were lean-to’s to work out of.”

A storm at another event caused fields to be quite soggy, and back in the day when goal posts were made of steel, they were quite heavy. Tractors used to place the goals on the fields left the fields rutted, and unusable.

Thus Maas said, “25-30 people helped carry the goals to where they needed to go.”

She said she has a photograph of that event to remind her of the dedication of the volunteer spirit that permeates the event.

The adidas Warrior Soccer Classic runs May 27-30, 2011.