SHERIDAN — A new competitive adult soccer league officially started its inaugural season Sept. 10 at Thorne-Rider Park.
Jess Hattervig and Nate Deines, two local Sheridan residents, started the Black Mountain Soccer league this fall after seeing a need in the community.
Hattervig said there was not a competitive league for adults in the Sheridan area. The local Sheridan YMCA offers a great adult league, Hattervig said, but Black Mountain Soccer offers a more competitive experience. Hattervig and Deines both played in the YMCA league for many years and are not trying to replace the league. Black Mountain is for those who want to play in a competitive league following FIFA rules.
When looking to schedule weekly games, Hattervig and Deines made sure the night did not conflict with the YMCA, allowing players to participate in both leagues.
Black Mountain follows FIFA rules and uses certified officials. The only added rule is that each team needs to have a developing player not older than a sophomore in high school on the roster. Part of the goal with the new league is to provide developing soccer players in Sheridan a chance to face older, tougher opponents.
Hattervig and Deines chose this fall to start the league to allow players to have a chance to play soccer all year long.
Both men grew up playing the sport, played in college and continue to play. Every year they take a group to Jackson to play in an adult soccer tournament. They hope Black Mountain can also help those in Sheridan receive the practice they need to prepare for the tournament. They decided over the summer that if they were going to create this league, they were going to do it right.
To start with, they needed a location for games. They asked Sheridan Recreation District staff if there were any fields available for the group. The two parties struck up and agreement to let the league use the outfield of the youth baseball field at Thorne-Rider Park. The location was perfect for the one field the league needs this season. The lights on the field allow games to be played in the evenings, not having to worry about the time of day.
Hattervig said the stadium lights offer a unique atmosphere that many players, even those in high school, do not always experience. He said there is something different about playing under the lights and is thankful that SRD is allowing the league to use the fields.
Once the location was established, Deines said the next step was handling the logistics of obtaining insurance and recruiting players to join the league. Both were easily accomplished.
Hattervig and Deines have played in the YMCA league for many years, building relationships with other soccer players who were also looking for a competitive league. Some took on the role of captain to help recruit players. Deines said he knew there was interest for the league and was surprised at the fullness of the rosters. They had to stop adding players to make sure everyone received enough playing time.
In the first year of existence, the league filled all six teams with no less than 14 players, Hattervig said. The rules state that teams will play nine vs. nine, but with the strong numbers teams are encouraged to play full squads of 11 vs. 11 whenever possible.
With the teams created, it was time for them to find team sponsors to offset costs of equipment, field rentals, jerseys and officials.
Every game will have a certified official and teams are scheduled to be the assistant officials. The plan is as the league grows, more officials can be hired, allowing for three certified officials to run games.
Officials told Hattervig they are excited to continue officiating later in the year. It allows them to keep their skills sharp heading into the spring, when high school seasons begin.
Although he was aware of Sheridan’s strength in community support of many organizations and groups, Hattervig was still impressed with support the community showed. Every time he works with the community, Hattervig said he is blown away by the support given by Sheridanites.
With everything settled, all that was left to do was play soccer. Teams play every Tuesday and Thursday for the next seven weeks, with the final week encompassing playoffs. Games will last one hour each.
The rosters are currently full but the number of teams in the league will expand when it starts back up in the summer, offering more teams and a longer season.
Hattervig and Deines both hope Black Mountain Soccer will last for a long time, helping build strength and experience for soccer players in the community.