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Alumni soccer games honor fallen coach

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Mark Stanfield loved soccer and he loved being a coach. Now four friends of the fallen coach are holding a day of alumni games in his name for past Folsom Soccer Club players and the response has been outstanding. The nine alumni games are slated to be played Sunday at Livermore Park, rain or shine, starting at noon and finishing in the early evening. Stanfield, who coached soccer for nine years in Folsom, passed away in April from esophageal cancer. “It’s just a wonderful tribute to him,” said Jamie, Stanfield’s wife of 14 years. “He was involved with athletics for years here in Folsom. He would feel so honored to have this event held in his name.” Spencer Strombeck, who Stanfield coached for seven years, initially came up with the idea for an alumni game. “When I heard Mark was having a hard time with cancer, I wanted to have this game and get everyone out there, including Mark,” Strombeck said, now a 22-year-old college student at Chico State. “That team was like a second family to all of us. We always had fun and Mark was always laughing and smiling and he wanted to make sure everyone else was too. When I told him about the game, he was instantly stoked. You could hear it in his voice.” Last year’s game was a big success, but unfortunately, Stanfield was too ill to attend. Instead, the players sent him a DVD with personal get-well wishes included along with the game. Strombeck said that he later learned that the DVD was very special to Stanfield and he had to wipe away the tears as he watched it. “After last year’s game, which turned out to be a lot of fun, we said ‘why don’t we make this an annual event in Mark’s behalf,’” Dave Cox said. “Not only would it serve to honor his memory, but we also could raise some money for the club on behalf of Mark and other coaches, players and referees who have also passed and use that money to make field improvements.” “Secondly,” Dean Williams added, “So many kids invest their lives in playing soccer in the club that we thought we’d give them the ability to come back and play in an alumni game. It’s a special event that could bring friends together, parents and their former coaches.” Cox and Williams are organizing the event along with Michael Raffetto and Jim Lehman. All four men are former board members with the club whose kids played in the soccer club for years. Raffetto still has kids playing in the program. “Last year’s event was so much fun,” Williams said. “We had about 60 kids and they just had a blast. This year we put the ‘Mark Stanfield Alumni Soccer Game page’ up on Facebook within a week or two we had 70 kids signed up. We’re expecting about 120 to show up Sunday.” The organizers figured to have three boys’ teams and three girls’ teams. The boys’ teams will play 35-minute games against each other and the girls’ teams will do the same. The alumni games will end with three co-ed games. Along with the games, there will also be a barbecue with hamburgers, hot dogs and sodas. Organizers also hope the alumni parents come out for the day too. “Dave and I have made lifetime friends with our kids coming up through the club and this is a great event for them to come out and enjoy as well,” Williams said. To play in the game, players must be 18-or-older and not currently a player in the Folsom Soccer Club. Aside from that, all alumni of the club are invited. The oldest player currently signed up is in their mid-20s, but with up to 25 people on a team, there should be plenty of subs for those who have lost the stamina they had in their playing days. “We’re looking for community support,” Cox said. “We want parents and families to come out and enjoy this event.” The event is free, but organizers will be asking for donations for what they hope to be an annual event held in Stanfield’s honor that will be fun for the alumni of the club, as well as help out the current and future members of the club through field improvements. Cox said he sees the event going one of two directions in the future. “I either see it being a separate foundation or if the club sees value in it, they could take it on as part of the club,” Cox said. To sign up to play go to the ‘Mark Stanfield Alumni Soccer Game’ page on Facebook. Anyone who would like to make a donation can make a check payable to the Folsom Soccer Club and note Mark Stanfield alumni game in the memo section of the check and send to Folsom Soccer Club, P.O. Box 821, Folsom, CA, 95763-0821. Mark Stanfield Alumni Soccer Game What: Alumni soccer games for former Folsom Soccer Club members When: Noon to 6 p.m., Sunday, December 18 Where: Livermore Park Info: Folsomsoccerclub.org