RALEIGH — For 13-year-old Taylor VanDyke, watching a soccer game from the sidelines is a bit torturous – she much rather would be playing.
One of the Raleigh teen’s brothers, Hampton, 9, was busy chasing a ball as Taylor bit her fingernails.
“It’s nerve-racking,” said Taylor, who had competed earlier with her team.
More than 1,500 young soccer players swarmed Capital Area Soccer League’s fields Saturday and Sunday for a tournament showcasing talent from throughout Wake County.
The CASL Cup Tournament featured 120 teams, with players ranging in age from younger than 7 to 18 in the league’s recreational club.
“This tournament is a bit more festive than some of the other tournaments,” said Bill Hanckel, tournament director and event manager. “It’s the end of the season for a lot of these kids, and they came out to have a great time.”
While the atmosphere was festive, parents took the games seriously.
Raleigh dad John Cox pulled his daughter Kate aside while she was waiting to get back into her game. He offered the 7-year-old some tips, grabbing a ball and showing her a few moves.
“Trap, push, and shoot,” he said. “Now, go get ’em.”
Cox believes the games offer valuable life lessons. That’s why all three of his children play.
“It gives them a sense of what to expect out in the world,” he said, never taking an eye off his daughter while she played. “Everything is related. Business is a lot like sports. This teaches them to work with others toward a goal.”
Doug Collner of Wake Forest sat comfortably in his lawn chair as he watched son Hayden, 10, play. Collner didn’t have much interest in sports growing up and said he regrets that choice.
“I wanted to break that curse,” he said with a laugh. “If you don’t start them young, they lose interest.”
Raleigh mom Angie VanDyke played soccer when she was young – and says she’s glad she did. Her soccer play allowed her to travel across the country. “I feel that group sports readies the kids to interact with each other and teaches them to be competitive.”
The tournament brought families together. Uncles, aunts and grandparents watched from the sidelines, cheering the players and enjoying the warm spring day.
Randy Egland of Knightdale was watching his son, 18-year-old Mickey, play in his last CASL tournament.
“We started this when he was 5, and it’s just been great,” Egland said. “I coached him for the first couple of years, then he needed someone with some talent for coaching. It’s been great seeing him develop a rapport with the other kids and coaches.”
Mickey Egland will play for Wake Tech Community College’s soccer team in the fall. “I think he’ll use the social aspects of this for the rest of his life,” Randy Egland said.
After taking a quick break from the field, an out-of-breath Mickey said, “I’m tired. … It’s been a long day.”
Melissa Kandel cheered as her 10-year-old son Mitchell’s team kicked the game-winning goal. “It’s just good for them to learn self-discipline and to get away from the video games for a while. And it’s fun to watch him play and develop these skills.”
Kandel moved to Cary from Indiana, and she said the parent interaction is much different at the CASL program.
“They are really good about promoting sportsmanship overall,” she said. “In Indiana, some of the parents would get kicked out of the games. It’s not like that at all here.”
Asked why he enjoyed playing, Mitchell Kandel said, “You learn tactics you need to get through life. I make a lot of friends out here, and usually teamwork works best when you are friends.”
“That’s what it’s all about,” his mom said.