Visitors praise complex

August 24, 2009

By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer

Among area residents’ reactions to the Smith River Sports Complex at Sunday’s grand opening were:

• Henry County Supervisor Paula Burnette: “The real birthing (of the complex) is having it full of people.” The area, she said, has outdoor and indoor activities, such as Piedmont Arts Association and the Virginia Museum of Natural History, but “this is a different venue for different activities. ... I think they will find it will have optimum use in a short time.”

• Gary Collins, long-time local sports supporter and father of Bryson Collins, who plays on an under-16 soccer team: The complex is “one of the best things to happen to Martinsville-Henry County.” For the past decade, he has taken Bryson and his other son, Blake, to regional games in Statesville, Winston-Salem and Greensboro in North Carolina, Roanoke and other areas, and none has a facility comparable to the Smith River complex, he said. “It’s the Cadillac of soccer complexes.”

• Jason Muehleck of Martinsville, who played on a Piedmont Youth Soccer League team as a youth and has coached soccer: “It’s absolutely gorgeous. If it’s run properly, it will be a huge benefit to the area.” He said it will take time to build support for the complex, but events such as Sunday’s help more people see what is there.

• Lucy Moore of Martinsville, whose daughter, Liza, a ninth-grader at Carlisle School, was playing field hockey at the complex Sunday: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for the community. Her husband, Peyton Moore, said the complex is first-class and needs to be marketed as such to let everyone know what is here.

• Carlisle soccer players Corey Gaylor, a ninth-grader, and seniors Blake Thomas and Josh Kwaji, will play their first game at the complex Thursday against Westover Christian Academy: The complex is “awesome,” they said, and added that the fields’ artificial turf will help the ball move faster.

• Henry County Supervisor Jim Adams: The complex is first-class, and offers more than soccer. He noted that the Philpott Lake area and Jack Dalton Park serve walkers in their areas, and the complex will do the same in the eastern end of Henry County. With children playing sports there and older people walking, the facility will have “lifelong participation,” he said. “Harvest (which paid for the complex) accomplished something the public sector couldn’t do” because of the price tag of $8.7 million, he said, adding that the complex has the potential to grow even bigger and spark development in the county.

• Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Collinsville: “It’s impressive. It’s the kind of facility you see in major Virginia cities.” He added it can help attract businesses to the area’s quality of life.

• Pete Scouras, Martinsville High School soccer coach: The complex would be good for local jamborees and tournaments. “Soccer is big here; this is a shot in the arm.” He added that it was good to see the city, county and other entities working together and people having fun.

• Katie Connelly of Piedmont Community Services, whose son, Rob, played soccer with Piedmont Youth Soccer League and Martinsville High School: She traveled to soccer matches throughout the region and never saw anything comparable to the new complex. “We now have the capability of bringing teams here,” and they likely will want to return because of the facility.

• Lynn Ward, of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge and the mother of former soccer players: “My biggest regret is my daughter (Jennifer) will not have the opportunity to play here. Having raised kids and seen the difference sports makes in their lives, I don’t think we can have enough facilities. I hope they have the funds to keep it up like this.”

• Jeff Mansour, a project director with the Harvest Foundation: “It’s wonderful. It’s incredibly important to the community” to help it develop a sense of pride and confidence. He noted that the space is flexible so it can hold a variety of events. “It’s limited only by the imagination.”

• Don Hodges, former Harvest board president: “We were blessed to have Bob Davis” to guide the complex’s development and construction. “We (the Harvest board) depended on him.” Hodges added that the people who have used the complex so far have loved it. That included the British soccer coaches who ran a camp there and said it was the best facility they had seen, he said. When they tell others of that, word of the complex will spread.


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