Soccer Club Loses Field To Sprawl A Woodbury League Is Seeking More Space.

Posted: December 29, 1996

WOODBURY — For as long as most local soccer enthusiasts can remember, Okie field in West Deptford, or Cray's for you older folks, has been the place for boys and girls to practice their kicks, headers and fancy dribbling.

But, like other soccer fields and peach orchards in the county, the field will metamorphose into the picture of suburban sprawl within about a year. It is being sold, and will be developed by 1998, possibly as homes.

With the sale of the West Deptford field, where the youths played free of charge, Woodbury soccer club officials have been left wondering how to cram the 350 youngsters in the league onto their two other sites. The size of the league has doubled in the past few years.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED JANUARY 5, 1997, FOLLOWS: In an article last week on the Woodbury Soccer Club's looking for new soccer fields, information about the development of Okie field in West Deptford was misleading. The land was sold in 1995, and it will be developed primarily into office space.

This month, City Council members voted to set aside about $75,000 for the purchase and development of new soccer fields. The only problem is that in a river town nearly built to capacity, finding space might prove difficult.

Members of the soccer league remain optimistic.

``We'll figure it out one way or the other,'' club president Terry Dennen said.

When space got tight last year, Dennen pointed out, St. Patrick's School donated some space for soccer practice. ``It's difficult to say where that may happen again, but I'm sure that it will,'' Dennen said.

During their fall and spring seasons, the soccer players practice and play at the Okie field, St. Patrick's, and the Woodbury recreation center, which also sits in West Deptford, city administrator Tom Bowe said.

Even now, when it rains, finding a field that isn't flooded is a chore for the soccer parents and coaches.

Space might get even tighter if St. Patrick's decides to add a new building to its site by 1998, as the school is considering.

``It's very problematic,'' Bowe said. ``If we don't find the fields, it might cause some reduction in the program. Something would have to give.''

Unlike Little League and Midget football, the soccer club has never had a home of its own. Some parents hope that might soon change.

``We could be thrown off [the fields] at any minute,'' said Leslie Clark, treasurer of the soccer club, whose 10-year-old son plays in the league. ``It would be nice if Woodbury soccer club could have its own space.''

City officials have a year to find new fields. In the meantime, soccer will go on, and the dedicated will bring out their black-and-white balls again the first week in March.

``The kids, they don't really care,'' Clark said. ``They just go out there and play soccer and have a good time.''

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