By: Ernie Wren
For about 15 years or so, Kristi Clarke and I directed the Ashland Optimist soccer program. We once estimated that during that time, we marked over 500 soccer fields. It was an era in my life I still miss and cherish for the memories with her and all the kids we served. Before us there were many others who had the same role, and after us, the torch was passed on to Kyle Baker. Kyle has now decided to pass the torch himself. I asked Kyle to share some of his thoughts about the youth soccer program which has served as a recruitment pipeline for the wonderful soccer program at the high school.

“I started in the summer of 2015. My first season, in the Fall of 2015, we had around 180 kids, and this past spring we had close to 390. Besides doubling the number of kids, which means more teams, it has not changed much. We still have two seasons a year (fall/spring). K/PreK teams play their games here, 1st-8th grade teams play in the Jeff City YMCA league. We have had some teams play in other leagues over the years as well. Our biggest change was making the move from paper forms handed out through the schools to having online forms. It was a big move, because we no longer had to type in every single registration form.

One of the biggest needs is that if the number of kids who sign up to play keeps rising, then we will eventually have to find more field space for practices. We currently have that stretch of land to the south of the current practice fields, but we would need to do some serious work to level it. If we did add more fields, then we would have to add more goals, etc. Volunteers are always needed to help coach.”

I’d like to personally extend a shout out to Kyle for his many years of service, I know the parents and youth he has served are also very thankful. So, if you see Kyle, be sure to say “THANKS!” Taking over the helm of the Ashland Optimist soccer program is Tillie Dowd, local chiropractor at Body Flow Chiropractic. Some of you may remember her as Tillie Bill, former high school soccer star and all-around great kid. Thanks to all!

The Southern Boone YMCA, Ashland Betterment Coalition and Eagle Flight Fireworks is planning the second annual community fireworks event at the Southern Boone YMCA at 405 Main Street. The event is Saturday, July 20, 2024, beginning at 6 p.m. with family activities in the parking lot of the “Y” prior to the fireworks display at 8:45 p.m. Bring the family and enjoy this FREE community event! (per their Facebook page). The Hartsburg fireworks will be held on July 13th at the Lions Baseball Field in Hartsburg and will start at sundown.

I’ve had people ask me why there isn’t a local celebration on July 4th. According to Mayor Dorise Slinker, “The 4th of July is a particularly busy time for Eagle Fireworks, as they are involved in numerous events and fireworks shows over several days. Given their packed schedule, it’s challenging for them to both build and execute a fireworks display on the same day. However, we have confidence in their ability to deliver an exceptional show, as they have done in previous years. The Ashland Betterment Coalition (ABC) has been instrumental in coordinating efforts and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. We are certain that this year’s fireworks display will surpass everyone’s expectations, just as it did last year. ABC is actively working with other businesses and community sponsors to deliver a display and other family events on a day that works best for the community.”

This makes perfect sense, and while it might be nice to have a celebration of the 4th on the 4th, we are blessed to have two exciting community events to bring us together in celebrating our independence.

Did you know that celebrations of the United States’ Independence Day also happen in Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Sydney, Australia? In Denmark, the Rebild Festival rings in the festivities with a picnic and music (NPR).