Bays hop divisions, start youth league Northeast is part of 64-team USISL

August 25, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

When the Baltimore Bays resume play in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League next spring, they will play in the newly established Northeast Division, which expands the USISL to 64 teams, coast to coast. That was one of several announcements made yesterday by the Bays.

Others included the formation of a 12-team inner-city soccer league this fall; acquisition of Toshiba, a Fortune 50 company, as a major sponsor; the pursuit of the USISL championship indoor tournament in February; the first annual Bays-Easter Seals Marathon Tournament at Bobby McAvan's Maryland Sports Arena in September; and affiliation with Soccer Blast U.S.A. Legends of Soccer Tour that will come to the Convention Center Sept. 12.

In its inaugural outdoor season (the Bays will play their first USISL indoor season this fall), the Bays played in the Atlantic Division, which stretched from Columbia, S.C., to Connecticut. This year, they will be the southern anchor of the new nine-team Northeast Division.

Included in the new division are former Atlantic rivals Delaware and Connecticut and the newest USISL entries: Philadelphia Freedom, New York Fever, Cape Cod Crusaders, New Jersey Imperials, New Jersey Dragons and Boston Storm.

"When we looked at our roster at the start of last season, we thought it was going to be a cakewalk. Then we started playing," said Bays majority owner Bill Wallace, whose team did not qualify for postseason play.

Now, says Bays coach Kevin Healey, "We're going into a new division with teams that have the potential to be even stronger because of their strong financial ownership. But we're looking forward to it. A year of experience for our young players will make a difference."

But the announcement the Bays seemed most proud of was the one designed to benefit inner-city children. The organization put on 30 inner-city clinics this summer, showing the sport to 3,000 children.

It was that program that has led to the establishment of what organizers hope to call the Financial Services Inner City Soccer League, which, with the support of Provident Bank, other financial institutions and the Baltimore City Recreation Council, will operate over eight weeks in October and November.

"We've been working very hard to make it work from the ground up and we're proud of what we're doing to bring soccer to the inner-city youth," Wallace said.

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