Used by 'a ton of people,' soccer park has new signs to mark Rotary Club's involvement
It was almost 25 years ago that the members of the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club decided to take up a service project to celebrate the club's 75th anniversary. Though they looked at several proposals, the one they ultimately decided on was to help turn some undeveloped land north of what is now the local Minnesota State Community & Technical College campus into a soccer field complex.
"The Detroit Lakes soccer club at this time was struggling to find fields to play on," recalled David Carter, a longtime coach of the Laker girls soccer team who also helped develop the Detroit Lakes youth soccer program.
Detroit Lakes High School has fielded both boys and girls teams since the fall of 1997, according to the Tribune's newspaper archives, though the Detroit Lakes Youth Soccer Association began a few years before that.
Carter noted that the field where the girls and boys teams had been playing, near Emmanuel Nursing Home, was scheduled to be developed into housing when the Noon Rotary stepped forward with its $15,000 donation at the end of 1997.
That initial gift helped to spur another $50,000 in cash and in-kind donations for development of the soccer complex on the north edge of town. But that's not all.
"Rotarians not only gave us cash," Carter added. "They gave us manpower."
Some of the soccer field projects the club's cash and volunteer contributions have made a reality include the following:
Installation of a sprinkler irrigation system.
The installation of man-made steps on a difficult-to-navigate slope.
The planting of dozens of trees.
Seeding the fields with grass and picking up rocks to make them safer for playing.
Today, the Rotary Soccer Park is thriving, Carter says, and has expanded from four to eight fields, with a total of 13 fields in the entire soccer complex.
About 500 kids of all ages are taking part in local youth programs, with about 110 of them playing on high school teams, according to Laker boys soccer head coach Justin Weigleitner.
Recently, new "Rotary Soccer Park" signs were installed on site to celebrate the Noon Rotary Club's contributions.
"We've applied for a grant to install a third sign on Terry Street," said Rotarian Brad Green, who has been involved with the project for many years, both as a member of the club and as public works director for the City of Detroit Lakes (a position from which he retired in February).
Green said that bathrooms and a park shelter were constructed on site as well, and Carter added that the soccer park is a popular recreation destination — not just for players, but for people who want to take their dogs for a walk, hit a few golf balls, or just get in a little exercise.
"It's used by a ton of people," he said.