In September 2012, BRYC celebrated the opening of two new synthetic turf fields at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax. On the morning of September 14, BRYC U14G recreational soccer teams coached by Kevin Bradburn and Chris Massey played the very first youth soccer games on the new field in Robinson’s stadium.
The stadium field, along with a new auxiliary field, cost roughly $1.5 million to build. They were funded through a partnership between BRYC (football, travel soccer, rec soccer), Northern Virginia Soccer League (a premier adult soccer league), Robinson Athletics and their booster club, a grant from Fairfax County from the $5.50 fee per player that we pay each season, and Braddock District Supervisor and former BRYC softball coach John Cook, who found some extremely rare county money to enable us to reach our goal.
"These improvements add significantly to the quality of life in our community," said Supervisor Cook, who has worked to obtain funding for this and other turf projects in the Braddock Distict. BRYC is already working with Supervisor Cook to turf Woodson HS in 2013, and he is working with another club to turf Lake Braddock SS at the same time.
“BRYC is proud to be able to contribute to the community, and to continue our long-time partnerships with Robinson, Northern Virginia Soccer League and Fairfax County," said BRYC President Dane Merkel in an article published by Burke Patch. "This is an exciting time for all youth sports in the area, as quality fields foster good player development and provide the safest environments possible.”
The project is part of a long-term strategic plan started under the leadership of former BRYC President and rec soccer coach, league director, and soccer referee Charles Osborn, and written by BRYC’s Competition Cheer commissioner Dwight Hunt. The plan addresses the need for more outdoor and indoor space for the club’s programs to grow. Mark Dolansky, BRYC’s Travel Soccer Commissioner and rec soccer parent, took on the task of negotiating usage times and fair monetary contributions among the partners, similar to the effort led by former BRYC fields director Bob Lyle for the Wakefield project. Bob was called out of retirement to help again.
"We learned a lot from the Wakefield turf project a few years ago," said BRYC’s Communications Director and soccer referee director John Davis, "and from watching other turf field projects being completed around the county." The BRYC Board sent BRYC Fields Director Trish Moxie and board member Amy Thompson to listen and learn at monthly meetings of the Fairfax County Athletic Council. They brought back invaluable information on the processes and procedures for building and funding these fields, and showed the Council and Fairfax County’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) that we were seriously interested in investing in this project. John noted that in the two years of planning, we had several partners join, only to later drop out for various reasons. "We asked for a lot in the design of these fields, including creating an 80-yard wide field at Robinson that can be used for small-sided soccer games in State Cup. We were ecstatic when Robinson’s Director of Student Activities, Jeff Ferrell, told us, "Build it big or don’t build it at all."
The remaining task needed to build the fields was obtaining a bank loan to help fund BRYC’s share of the project. This job was expertly negotiated by BRYC’s Treasurer and football coach Steve Bergstrom. The final agreements and check were delivered literally as the bulldozers were showing up to start work.
Recreational soccer commissioner David Knight wrote, "Our U14 Girls teams were thrilled to play on the new field. The players, coaches and parents are still talking about how great it was. We look forward to playing more games at Robinson. These fields are a great addition to the sports fields in this area. Kudos to all who worked so hard to make this happen!"
In addition to soccer, the new fields have allowed BRYC football to play all their home games this season on synthetic turf fields for the first time ever. BRYC football commissioner and Robinson footbal coach Bob Fitzpatrick said, "This is a really exciting time for all of BRYC and especially football. The players, coaches and parents are looking forward to games in Coffey Stadium on the new turf and it is a great recruitment tool to develop more growth in youth football. Just can’t wait for the season to get underway."
"These fields are the result of a tremendous amount of work by FCPS, NCS, Robinson Athletics and their Athletics Boosters Club, as well as NVSL and BRYC," Davis added. "We are especially thankful for Supervisor Cook’s efforts in helping us clear the final hurdles. In the end, it was the longstanding trust among all the partners and the neighboring communities that allowed this project to happen."