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DL youth soccer continues to grow

The Detroit Lakes Youth Soccer Association has come a long way from a time when it couldn't field a full team.

Now the DYSA has enough players -- over 600 -- to put over 50 teams on the pitch.

With all of the players out on the fields -- barebones ones at that -- adjacent to the Minnesota State Community and Technical College, the DYSA plans to upgrade its facilities in the coming years.

"We want to put a building out there for concessions and we want to make one of the fields lighted," said Dave Carter, one of the founder's of the DYSA.

The soccer fields are getting used heavily as well. Carter said that with teams coming from all around the area to play, some creature comforts are needed.

Of course, that takes money, and that one of the reason that former state senator Cal Larson was on hand as part of his role as an advisor for the Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust. Larson hand-delivered a $10,000 check that will help with the upgrades at the soccer field.

DLYSA president Patti Cummins said that the grant is specific to building a concessions area, and she added that once that's up and running, more money will flow into the association's coffers.

"The primary goal for us is to get that done enough for us to use," Cummins said. "The concessions are important for the club because it allows us to be self-supporting."

The grant the DLYSA received isn't limited to a one-time only donation. Larson said that the organization could apply for it again this fall.

"I always say 'Be bold and don't be bashful,'" Larson said.

While the amount isn't enough, it's a start. Carter said that local companies have provided support for the work that has gone on so far and he hopes that the generosity doesn't stop.

But close to $130,000 is needed to make a clubhouse a reality, according to Carter. Besides concessions, the DLYSA wants to put in permanent rest rooms and storage facilities.

"We still have a lot of work to do out there," Carter said. "But this will do a lot to help the kids."

Carter said he hopes the city realized the benefits that come from investing in the fields. Teams coming in from out of town stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants that pump dollars into the coffers of businesses and the city.

Permanent lighting on a field or two will help the DLYSA bring teams into Detroit Lakes to play. Cummins said that lights would alleviate scheduling problems during the summer with youth leagues and with high schools in the fall. She said that lighting is especially helpful during the fall because of earlier sunsets that make high school scheduling difficult.

She added that having Carter on hand to help with the organization and sort through the state soccer bureaucracy has helped immensely.

"Dave has brought a knowledge of experience and knowledge of how the MYSA (Minnesota Youth Soccer Association) works and how we can benefit from it," Cummins said.

One of the appealing things about soccer, Carter said, is that is fairly inexpensive and kids can get involved right away. He said that they just need a few minutes with a ball and will then be actively participating in a game. Soccer also gives the youth something productive to do.

"We think it's a good project for the kids," Carter said. "It's keeping them safe."