Big Sun Youth Soccer League gives kids of all ages the chance to play locally.
Did you know that FIFA World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach got her start at her local soccer club? So did Clint Dempsey, who would go on to play for the U.S. in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. With the opportunities Big Sun provides for Marion County kids, the sky’s the limit! The No. 1 goal at Big Sun Youth Soccer League is to keep kids playing locally.
Thanks to a new partnership with Ocala Health, Big Sun’s 2019-2020 season will offer more young people the chance to receive quality training and play soccer right here in Ocala, while keeping fees affordable for families. Supporting soccer is a natural fit for Ocala Health, according to Lauren Debick, Ocala Health director of public relations and communications.
“Ocala Health is excited for the opportunity to be the premier sponsor for the Big Sun Youth Soccer League because we believe in the importance of youth sports and the commitment to an active lifestyle,” she says. “Many of our employees have kids and grandkids who participate on local sports teams, and we are thankful for the coaches and parents who dedicate their time and encouragement to make it possible for these kids to get involved in organized athletics from a young age.”
For more than 30 years, Big Sun has been the soccer club for Marion County kids of all ages—3 to 99. Playing youth soccer has many benefits; not only does it keep kids active physically, it helps with brain development and gaining valuable experience in teamwork and conflict resolution.
“Our ultimate aim is to support individuals and teams in pushing the boundaries of their personal development, whatever their level may be,” says Matt Weston, Ocala Premier Soccer director of coaching.
“Big Sun has qualified, high-impact coaches and trainers on and off the field,” says Josh Scroggie, executive president and recreational league president. “Building character and developing lifelong skills like good sportsmanship and giving back to the community is part of the Big Sun culture. I think the game is a great teacher for the skills of life and healthy living.” Scroggie was on one of Big Sun’s very first teams as a kid in 1983, which sparked a lifelong love of soccer that would lead him to play and coach in high school and return to Big Sun as a coach after college.
The volunteer-run nonprofit started in 1981 at Ocala’s Jervey Gantt Park and moved to its current location across the street in 1989. Over the years, as soccer became more and more popular, Big Sun added competitive (travel) and adult programs, and last year it added the elite program, Central Florida United, taking soccer to the next level.
Coach Abbie Camargo wants to make sure kids have the same opportunities she had—to play soccer recreationally, then competitively and then through college. She and her twin sister started playing at Big Sun as young kids, with their dad as their coach.
“Half of us went on to play college soccer,” she says. “All of us wanted to play at the next level, and we enjoyed going to practice and giving 110 percent.”
Although the competitive and elite programs do have paid coaching staff, Big Sun relies heavily on volunteers—from the governing board to administration to recreational coaches—and families are encouraged to actively participate.
“The best way to contribute to the improvement of our league is to get involved,” says Executive Board Member Dana Parker, whose daughter and son have played at Big Sun for the past five years. “Volunteering at Big Sun is a great way to earn required hours counting toward scholarships and educational requirements.”
Big Sun offers three youth programs and two adult programs. In the youth division, all children are welcome to play at recreational beginner and intermediate levels. Parents pay a registration fee, which covers uniforms and medals. Twice-weekly practices and Saturday morning games are held at the Big Sun Complex. At the competitive level, young people can try out for Ocala Premier Soccer teams, which practice two to four times per week at Ocala Rotary Sportsplex and play weekend games against other Greater Central Florida Youth Soccer League teams. At the elite level, players from six area clubs come together to represent at high-level tournaments both in and out of state under the brand Central Florida United.
Big Sun Youth Soccer League > 2811 SE 36th Avenue, Ocala > (352) 694-4778 > www.ocalasoccer.org
Want To Get Involved?
- Sign up now for youth Recreational soccer for the fall.
- Pre-register for Ocala Premier Soccer. Tryouts are May 14-16 for next year.
- Pre-register for Central Florida United. Tryouts are coming in June.
- Sign-up for Adult recreational and competitive soccer for the fall.
- Join us for the Annual General Meeting on May 13 at 7pm in the Big Sun conference room.
- Visit our website for upcoming summer camps and tournaments.
To register or get more information, visit www.ocalasoccer.org.