Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament draws visitors, creates lasting impression
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Even before Brad Church became director, the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament held a special place in his heart.
“We knew about Steamboat because of the mountain tournament,” Church said. “We fell in love with the mountains and the skiing side of things and ended up coming here permanently.”
After last year’s tournament, Church took over the director’s position and is thankful for the community support the event gets each year.
“Certainly, when you are bringing in roughly 11,000 to 12,000 people, with 155 to 165 teams on a yearly basis, you make a huge economic impact,” Church said.
This year, 155 teams — from Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — will compete in 286 games in four days before wrapping up with Sunday’s championships. The athletes range in age from 9 to 19, and more than 150 volunteers are helping to put on the event.
“This is the biggest weekend we have so far this summer and probably for the rest of the summer,” said Laura Soard, marketing director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. “The soccer tournament typically … falls on the busiest weekend of the summer.”
Headed into the weekend, the occupancy rate is about 85 percent based on people who booked their lodging in advance, Soard said.
The tournament is a fundraiser for the Steamboat Soccer Club and covers about 40 percent of the costs associated with running the club each year. Rob Bohlmann, the club’s director, said the tournament helps cut down on the cost for local players and also helps promote the club’s core values, which are inclusion, education, excellence and enjoyment.
When the tournament started 34 years ago, it seemed like a perfect fit for the club and the team, he said.
“We still hold true to our roots,” Bohlmann said. “It is a great event, and it’s a great opportunity to have a first-class event or tournament in our own backyard. … But then it also helps make our club financially viable and to keep it as affordable as possible.”
The tournament comes to a close Sunday as the top teams in each division face off in the championship round for titles. This year’s winners will get a baseball hat commemorating their showing in this year’s tournament.
If they follow in Church’s footsteps, those players will be back.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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