History of the Association
The Northern Panhandle Youth Soccer Association traces its roots to the Weirton Rotary Youth Soccer League which was formed in 1984 to serve as a league for the recreational play of soccer by youths ages 5 to 14 in the Weirton, West Virginia area. The league started with two teams totaling 26 children which played in the Steubenville, Ohio area. By 1989 the league had grown to 10 teams comprised of 140 children
The Northern Panhandle Youth Soccer Association, Not for Profit Corporation, was formed in 1989 to serve the youth of the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia as an entity to provide soccer as a sport and outlet. The original officers of the corporation were E. John Castelli, President; Chuck Robinson, Vice-President and Treasurer, and Terry Frankovitch, Secretary. Since its inception the association has grown from one league, the aforementioned Weirton Rotary Youth Soccer League, to three leagues Weirton Rotary Youth Soccer League, Brooke County Soccer Club based in Bethany, WV and Upper Hancock Youth Soccer League based in Chester, WV. The Association is also the parent of the Force Soccer Club which provides for the competitive arm playing in the PA West Travel League. Through these 4 entities the Association has over 72 teams comprised of over 1,000 youth from the ages of 4 through 19. The Associations teams have provided instruction, recreational play and play on the competitive level for players from Hancock and Brooke counties in West Virginia, Jefferson County in Ohio and Washington County in Pennsylvania.
For years the Leagues played on excess land provided by the Weirton Steel Company. With its demise the Brooke League found a home on land provided by Bethany College. The Upper Hancock League on lands provided by the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Department. The Weirton League and Force Soccer Club continued to play on land that was now owned by the West Virginia Development Authority. Knowing that these fields would soon become developed the Association began to look for suitable property to develop fields. Stravaggi Industries of Weirton came to the Associations rescue in the early part of 2000. They had approximately 15 acres of land located on Colliers Way, Weirton. Stravaggi Industries graciously allowed the Association to enter a long term lease for $1.00.
In 2001 the planning began in earnest and the Association was granted a $100,000 grant from the JC Williams Foundation. Work began the next year and soon with funds from the grant, funds raised by parents and in kind work from Stravaggi, Ianneti’s Garden Center and James White Construction, as well as countless hours of volunteer labor, The Association was able to play its first games at the JC Williams/Weirton Rotary Soccer Complex. The first field developed was a full sized field for Under 14 and above play. The next field finished in 2005 was a field for Under 12 play. Then in 2008 the Association added an Under 10 field, followed by an additional Under 10 Field the following year. The association has plans for the development of additional fields for the younger divisions.
To date the Association calculates that with the JC Williams grant, funds from the association of approximately $175,000, Weirton Rotary funds of $50,000 and $300,000 provided in kind and volunteers labor there has been approximately $625,000 worth of work completed at the complex.
In 2008 work was started on a restroom/storage facility. This structure was desperately needed as the use of portable toilets and no storage has cramped the leagues efforts to expand the use at the complex and to properly store its equipment. With the help of an additional grant of $45,000 and funds from the Weirton Rotary and the Andrews family the restroom/storage facility evolved from a simple structure into a full use facility which includes handicapped accessible restrooms for men and women, storage space for league equipment, full concession stand, meeting room for coaching and referee development and fully covered pavilion.
Work continues as the Association moves forward to achieve the vision that the founders planed so many years ago. Future plans include a full nature walk around the complex, and additional playing fields.