FUQUAY-VARNA — Henry Gutierrez is recognized on the national soccer scene, and he coaches a youth team for U.S. Soccer.
But he also finds time to serve as the soccer program director for the Fuquay-Varina Athletic Association, a nonprofit group that has provided youth athletics for more than 20 years. He wouldnt have it any other way.
The FVAA plans to shut down in November, but Gutierrez isnt going anywhere. Soccer is the first of the FVAAs nine sports programs to announce it will continue, forming a separate group after the FVAA dissolves next month.
The FVAA announced in August that it will close due to financial hardship, loss of membership and rising operational costs. The town of Fuquay-Varina cut ties with the group last year and launched its own youth recreational program.
But Milton Morgan, soccer president of the FVAA, said the decision to keep the soccer program going was easy.
Soccer has always been one of the stronger programs within the FVAA, he said.
In November, the name will change to the FVAA Soccer Club.
The groups soccer coaches will remain the same, Morgan said, and teams will continue to play on the same fields. Participants will no longer have to pay a $60 membership fee.
Right now, the FVAA is a marketable brand, Morgan said. You dont want to change that. When you say that in the circles of soccer folks or in the community, they realize what it is. They know the kind of caliber teams you have. They also know the coaches that we have here.
The FVAA has produced some successful soccer players, including Conor Donovan, who plays for the under-17 U.S. National Soccer team.
Gutierrez used to play for the Miami Fusion, a Major League Soccer team.
Whats important to me is loyalty to the program, said Gutierrez, who has been with the FVAA for about 10 years. In terms of the soccer program, Ive always wanted to build, to try to have here a program that can compete on the highest levels.
Gutierrez said it was a no-brainer to stick with the program.
We didnt think anything other than to continue, he said. Were going to continue to give these kids an opportunity to play.
The FVAA has about 360 soccer players on travel and recreational teams, Morgan said.
Parent Chris Cahoon said he was glad to hear the soccer program will continue.
Im all for it, he said. Its an opportunity for these kids to continue with what theyve been doing.
Cahoons son has been in the program for four years.
It is the epitome of the family environment, Cahoon said. Everyone truly has the best interest of the kids in mind. They have very high-caliber coaches two who have played professional soccer.
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