While most amateur leagues and competitions where shuttered this summer in the Delaware Valley because of the coronavirus, one local league was able to keep a tradition going dating back to 1972.
The Carroll Alumni Soccer League completed an abbreviated season unlike any other in its 48-year history by crowning a champion on August 6.
The league had six teams competing this summer in games at Radnor Memorial Park — a stone’s throw from Archbishop Carroll High School. While some of the league’s members are current or former players from the school team, rosters feature a mix of ages and players with ties to multiple area high school and college programs.
League play began shortly after Pennsylvania went into the green phase of reopening with measures to combat Covid-19. The annual draft they use to create teams was held over Zoom.
“I was really afraid that if we skip the year that might be sayonara for the league,” said President Joe Goldschmidt, who has overseen the league since 1996. “We were able to put together a two-page document of Covid-19 protocols and get enough interest to field the teams.”
One key feature that was missing from the league were social events they typically organize both formally and informally through the summer. For many of the players just having an opportunity to play competitive games again far outweighed any limitations.
“It’s a little bit different but the quality is still there and the talent level is still there,” said Warren Harding, of Upper Darby, after a game early in the season. “Having something like this is giving me a sense of normalcy. I understand some of the risks but this is something I need.”
While Harding didn’t play soccer in college many of the players in the league played or currently play at the Division III level.
Jason Moran played college ball nearby at Cabrini and has played eight seasons in the league.
“It’s just good to get out of the house, see people and get on the field and get some exercise,” Moran said after a game earlier this season. “It’s a really great league and once people know about it they keep playing.”
Typically the season starts earlier and runs longer but it was still a feat that the teams were able to play 6-7 games over the course of an abbreviated season.
Goldschmidt said one of things he has enjoyed with the league — even during a challenging season — has been getting to know the players.
“It’s been a really rewarding thing for me to get to know these young guys,” he said.
Goldschmidt is looking forward to a more typical season next year and a chance to celebrate the league’s 50th season in style.
“My big thing is if I can get this league to 50 years, I want it go to a hundred,” Goldschmidt said. “There’s no reason it can’t, the enthusiasm from the younger guys is definitely there and you see it just continuing to catch on.”