SHERIDAN — It takes a village.
Hosting a soccer tournament that features 276 matches takes a lot of planning and manpower. The Sheridan County Soccer Association along with its soccer club - the Sheridan Storm, hosted the Bighorn Mountain Cup Saturday and Sunday at the Big Horn Equestrian Center. The Storm junior soccer teams played well as other squads from Wyoming and neighboring states as well.
SCSA board member and volunteer coordinator Jeriann Jacobson expressed the work from this years tournament occurs just weeks after last year’s event.
“We do a huge debrief within a few weeks of this tournament to discuss what went well and what we want to do to make it better next for the next year,” Jacobson said. “Then things really get ramped up in January. Like any big event, it takes much preplanning and organization to take it to the next level.
Sheridan Storm Secretary Rhonda Weber said the biggest task for the board is securing sponsorships. Other responsibilities include securing vendors, referees, and opening the registration.
“But as for each individual responsibility, we’re all hands on deck,” Weber said.
Weber said the tournament used to hire a group of officials from California to referee the matches but this year has given a financial incentive for officials in Wyoming and neighboring states to call games.
When it comes to the weekend of the event the brunt of the work falls on the volunteers. The tournament was supported by the Sheridan County community as more than 150 volunteers showed up in cold, wet conditions to support the Bighorn Mountain Cup. Employees from the main sponsor, First Interstate Bank, assisted with making and handing out hot chocolates to spectators. Sheridan High School football head coach Jeff Mowry and many of his players helped with parking.
“This is such a large tournament. It truly couldn’t happen without our volunteers,” Jacobson said.
Weber concurred the community is what makes the tournament possible.
“I know this sounds super cliche, but it does not happen without the community. I mean, everything from the monetary sponsorships to the kind donations, from people that just dropped them off and said, use them for what you need” Weber said. “Many businesses let us use their trailers. It truly does not happen without the community.”
Jacobson expressed the hard work is well worth it once she sees hundreds of children with their supportive families cheering over the space of 28 soccer fields.
“It brings me joy that these kids are learning, growing and working as a team,” Jacobson said. “They learn through their struggles and the game of soccer celebrates growth. It connects our families and community across the state and beyond. I love that the kids are outside, active and having fun.”
Justin Hunter is a reporter at The Sheridan Press.