TRAVERSE CITY — Fred Haines had a vision.
He also had passion and determination.
And on any given day in the spring or fall, if you gaze out at the expanse of soccer fields at the Keystone Road Soccer Complex and see hundreds of kids kicking balls around, you are able to see it all spring to life.
This season Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer (TBAYS) is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The organization was the brainchild of Haines and Darrell Rogers back in 1988 when the two began a quest to find a more competitive avenue for soccer players around Traverse City.
Rogers was coaching YMCA soccer in the late 80’s and had Haines’s son on his team when Haines first approached Rogers about a grand idea he had.
“I had a really competitive team and we weren’t getting much competition locally so Fred said, ‘why don’t we put together a team and go play other communities? It goes on all over the country and all over the world. Maybe we should start doing something like that in Traverse City,’” said Rogers. “I said, ‘sure, let’s do it.’”
The next thing Rogers knew, he was taking a U-12 team to a tournament downstate over Memorial Day weekend.
“Everyone had an amazing experience,” Rogers said. “The boys did, I did, the parents did. It just rolled on from there.”
After one year of being sanctioned by Petoskey’s youth soccer organization, Haines and Rogers started TBAYS and the Traverse City area had its own Michigan State Youth Soccer Association league.
TBAYS has come a long way since that first team. Now, more than 1,500 kids participate each season in three different age groups, as well as through the North Storm select travel program. The Keystone facility is where they all hone their skills and is home to two massive annual tournaments — the Cherry Capital Cup and the Autumn Cup — and three employees work full time with the association.