By Logan Dubel
A local athletic group celebrating a major milestone continues to shoot for the stars. River Soccer Club, based in southern Delaware, is celebrating 25 years of developing and empowering young leaders both on and off the field.
Started as a small program by middle school principal and soccer lover Howard Gerken, River has filled a void in the community since day one. With no recreational programs in Sussex County, the small group, with the help of volunteers, garnered tons of interest before officially forming the club in 1996.
River prides itself on not only providing a home to passionate athletes but also an outlet for children to grow socially and gain new experiences they cannot get online. With a state-of-the-art facility constructed in 2000 in Frankford, Delaware, and seven fields, River is a premier destination for children on Delmarva, whether they are future soccer stars or looking to try something new. From learning teamwork, discipline, and decision-making, there is a lot more to soccer than simply kicking a ball and winning a trophy.
“Children need all kinds of experiences in life, and soccer isn’t for everybody. However, soccer is a game where all boys and girls can play at a young age for enjoyment,” said Rebecca Mais, President of River Soccer Club. “Then, if you want to go on and develop your talent, that’s great, or just come out and play with your friends recreationally on Saturdays. The life lessons sports provide kids are invaluable. We hope that it’s a great family experience and a way to make memories.”
The organization has offerings for players at all levels, from recreational and clinical programs to a travel group, which takes on teams throughout the mid-Atlantic region. In the early days, River managed three travel teams and has since grown to fifteen.
For Rebecca Mais, managing the club has and continues to be a family affair.
“On a personal note, I have two sons who are now soccer coaches. They started out young as players, enjoyed the game, and went on to play in college,” she explained. “We have been so very lucky to have such great models and motivators as part of the club over the years.”
Aubrey Sizemore, a volunteer with River and the mother of two players, is grateful for all that the group has provided her sons.
“River Soccer Club has been a great influence on my boys. At River, my oldest son has learned to referee soccer and refs games during rec league, soccer tournaments and EDP games,” she said. “My younger son plays travel soccer at River. He has grown so close with his teammates over the years. The coaches are so great. They truly care about the payers and their development. River is definitely a family.”
In honor of its silver anniversary, the organization has planned a weekend of festivities. On Friday, September 24, River will welcome back former players over the age of 21 for a social with adult beverages and food. They will have the opportunity to watch a game, as old friends catch up and reminisce about their soccer memories.
The excitement will continue on Saturday, September 25, as River hosts a family fun day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parents and their children are welcome to explore the club’s offerings, watch the rec soccer program, enjoy food trucks, view an exhibit of the group’s history, and participate in a variety of activities.
River has had an action-packed quarter century and has many goals for the years ahead, including hopes of scoring some on the field!
To learn more about River Soccer Club, click here.