Soccer fans and players packed the football stadium Thursday for the first ever North Pocono Youth Soccer Appreciation Night.
An entire slew of events throughout the event kept participants and onlookers engaged and entertained throughout the evening.
On the card were two intra-squad scrimmages, one featuring the junior high players and another showcasing the talents of the JV and varsity Trojans.
Additionally, each of the North Pocono youth teams had the opportunity to parade onto the pitch during breaks in the games.
Awards were presented and there were raffles, gift baskets, and concessions to help raise funds for the Laura Youorski Memorial Scholarship.
Youorski, who was a physical education teacher at North Pocono High School from 1998-2013, lost her battle against cancer earlier this year and a scholarship was started in her memory shortly thereafter.
During her career at NPHS, she served as an assistant coach to the girls' soccer team.
The junior high team kicked things off with their Red/White intra-squad scrimmage.
Drafted into two teams by their coaches, the kids battled hard for 20 minutes.
A white goal early in the half was the only score and at halftime the U6 and U8 teams were recognized on the field.
In the second half, the red team chipped in a goal but white followed up with two more making it 3-1 as the buzzer sounded.
"This was a lot of fun. It's a big difference playing in the stadium," the striker said post-game.
Page 2 of 3 - Gary Wrobleski and Michael Pierzchala, also white team members, both shared in the excitement of the stadium setting and recognized they glad to be helping the scholarship cause and supporting the youth programs.
An award for service was presented to Bill Heim in between games.
For the past 20 years he has served as the president of the North Pocono Youth Soccer program and was a founding member of the organization 28 years ago.
"We started the program with an ad in The Villager," Heim said. "There wasn't even a high school program then. That came three or four years later."
Prior to the early 1980s only a handful of NEPA communities had a youth soccer program, then all of a sudden soccer fever spread like wildfire through many municipalities between 1984-87.
"Clarks Summit had a league for a while," Heim continued. "We started around the same time as Scranton, Valley View, Newfoundland, Tunkhannock, and Tri-Boro.
"St Mary's in Dickson City even had its own league then. We had a lot of support from the very beginning especially from Elmhurst Township and Moscow Borough."
Chris Gager, a longtime coach in the program, will be replacing Heim as the new president.
"She's very capable and a great addition to the program." he said speaking of his replacement.
The U10, U12, and U14 kids then took their turn strolling across the grass before the JV and Vvrsity kids got down to business.
Like the junior high squad, the players were split up and drafted by assistant coaches Jim DeRenzis for the red team and Frank Dyska on the white side.
Prior to the game, senior Cory Rinaldi expressed enthusiasm for the entire event.
Page 3 of 3 - "Coach brought the idea to us and we all thought it as a good thing," he said.
"It's for a good cause and we're hoping to have a lot of fun."
His red team went on to trounce the white team 4-0, but it was all for fun and throughout both matches, players from other levels cheered on those engaged on the field.
In addition to the friends and families that filled the stands, the Pep Band provided entertaining tunes throughout the night.
While the exact amount raised for the scholarship is still being tallied, Trojans' varsity Head Coach Dave Davis, the driving force behind the event, noted how impressed he was with the turnout and community involvement.
"This is the first time this was done," Davis related.
"We had incredible parental involvement from the boys' soccer parents from grades 7-12. Community participation was excellent. The NPYSL was well represented."
Emblazoned on the crest for the North Pocono soccer team are the words: Character-Commitment-Community.
The success of the event is certainly testament to the fact that the Men of Troy live by their word and put those words into action.