kids playing soccer

Setting the Stage for Growth

Three years ago when Elkhorn South High School sophomore Greg Cross took on his Eagle Scout project, little did he know it was the start of something big. As a player for Elkhorn Soccer Club (ESC), he decided to raise money to improve the club’s facility at the James P. McNeil (JPM) fields by landscaping the entrance and installing benches for parents and players to sit on. He raised funds and completed the project to earn his Eagle Scout and impacted families throughout the club.

That project was at the forefront of significant facility improvements for ESC. Since then, the club, which has more than 1,400 players each year, has made additional improvements to JPM, including upgrading the playing surface and year-round turf care program, fencing, sidewalks, upgrading the pump and irrigation systems, parking curbs and additional gravel to parking lot, a covered pavilion, secure entrances, and new goals and other training equipment.

The club has also added three full-size soccer fields just north of JPM—the Krejci Soccer Complex (KSC), a collaborative effort with St. Patrick’s Church—which allows ESC to have “home” games and host tournaments. They’ve also added indoor space at the Thrive Space just west of their other fields, enabling them to have a futsal league during the winter months. And through a partnership with Elkhorn Training Camp, the club even has access to outdoor turf space.

“We strongly believe in visual cultural standards so that when you play at one of our facilities, you see the quality, care, and professionalism of our club,” said Rob Herringer, Executive Director at ESC. “Greg’s improvements were the first pieces to revitalizing our facilities and bringing them up to the standard we needed them to be at.” Having better facilities also means the club is able to provide a higher, safer level of soccer. “If you have poor facilities, you can’t play good soccer,” Herringer added.

Now attending college at Northeastern University in Boston as a major in Bio-medical engineering, Cross said it’s incredibly rewarding to know the impact his project had. “It was great seeing people enjoy something I had a hand in doing and humbling to think that it inspired further change and development with ESC’s facilities,” he said. “I learned many great life skills in scouting that I know will carry into my future.”

Not only did earning his Eagle Scout play a positive role in Cross’s future, but it helped the future of so many youth playing soccer, and not just for ESC. One of the benefits of having the new outdoor fields and indoor space is that it allows teams from clubs across the city and region to come to Elkhorn, often for an entire weekend, which benefits the whole community. “Our goal is to invest in our facilities so that we can develop our players year round,” Herringer said. “We want to provide amazing facilities where all kids can player soccer.” Doing something good that benefits many was Cross’s philosophy three years ago, and it is still a belief that he and ESC share for the community today.

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