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Youth soccer saved
Soccer at Pistole Park.jpg

Sports enthusiasts spoke and McMinnville officials listened.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday approved reinstatement of soccer leagues at Pistole Park this fall and, if a suitable venue is located, the return of rec basketball leagues. 

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department had announced last week that both leagues would be canceled this year.

“Due to the high contact nature of basketball and soccer, we will not be holding our basketball and soccer leagues this year,” the city announced. This brought a swift and negative response. 

”I think we need to have a league,” said Jeff Chisam, who was among five who addressed the board. “It’s beneficial to the kids, our community and for physical and mental health – all things of that nature. I’ve reached out to several counties around us to check on their recreational leagues, as far as basketball and soccer, and they are proceeding. We seem to be the only city that’s cancelling sports for kids in the fall.”

Pieter van Vuuren urged officials to take a page from Warren County School’s playbook – it provided students and parents with the option of traditional or online learning – and provide sports as an option for those who want to participate.

Those two were among numerous supporters in attendance.

“Basketball would be a little difficult,” said McMinnville Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord. “We’ve talked to Todd Willmore and the schools are only allowing school teams to use their facilities. As we know, the Milner Recreation Center is not available yet. We’ve reached out to Boyd and Covenant. Both their athletic directors were excited, but they still need to go before their board and ask. So, that’s not guaranteed, but that is an option.”

The gym at Westwood Church of Christ was mentioned as an option.

McCord suggested a four-week soccer season beginning in November and running into December. 

“It seems like soccer is a no-brainer,” said Alderman Steve Harvey. “Basketball, we have hurdles to get over. We have to find a place to have it. You’d run into a problem with fans as much as anything with basketball. If you’re in Westwood Church’s gym, there’s no room for fans. It could get really crowded in there if you’re not careful. I’m for trying to find a way to make it work.”

Also presented to members was an online petition with 393 signatures.

“We’ve got 400 members of the community who would be in agreeance with that,” said Vice Mayor Ryle Chastain. “I would like to see a concerted effort to make this happen, if it’s possible.”

Alderman Mike Neal stated, “I’m for anything outdoors. Anything indoors and we need to really think this out. Every gym you go to is going to have a different situation for seating and everything. If you don’t even know where you’re going, how are you going to figure that out? I would like to leave basketball off of that until we know where we will hold it.”

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved reinstatement of a fall soccer season and if a suitable venue can be located, a fall basketball season.