Keeping those over 30 in the game


Adult soccer leagues in Arundel County help players maintain their competitive edge


Scott Weaver stays busy with his daytime job as an engineer. He spends a lot of time helping to design bridges, buildings and wastewater treatment plants. It's a job that forces Weaver to work his way through a number of long days.

But Weaver has found a way to unwind and relieve the stress. The Pasadena resident knows how to relax on the soccer field. Weaver, 30, began playing soccer when he was a child and now competes on a regular basis with others his age plus those younger and older in leagues each fall and spring - and loves it.

Weaver is one of many adults age 30 or older who play in Anne Arundel County leagues that have grown in popularity in recent years. John Spinnenweber, facilities supervisor for Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks, said that there are 18 teams in this fall's over-30 league alone. There are three divisions and a total of about 240 players.

"The over-30 leagues are growing," he said. "I think they're the baby boomers' kids ... and they've been given more opportunities to play soccer as young people and adults."

Spinnenweber also said that there are other ways for those older than 30 to play in the county. There are "unlimited" leagues, where anyone older than 18 can compete.

He said a large number of players there are older than 30. In addition, players this age can play in the weekly coed league - and there are a number of people who play in more than one league.

That's what Weaver does each fall. He's a goalie who plays and coaches the Hudson's Heroes team in a Sunday morning unlimited league. Weaver, who played for Chesapeake High School, also coaches the Training Pro team in the coed league during the week.

Working with Hudson's Heroes makes Weaver get a quick start on Sunday mornings. They have games as early as 8:30 a.m., but the time doesn't bother him.

"I look forward to it every week," Weaver said. "It's a great release, and you develop relationships with guys, and I consider [those] on the team my friends." Weaver keeps his friends active by running the Anne Arundel Adult Soccer League each spring. Soccer is considered a fall sport by Recreation and Parks, so running the league independently each spring is how those interested keep adult soccer going in the area. Weaver has served as president the past few years.

"In the spring, everything is pretty much the same," Weaver said.

Todd McNeil also loves soccer and stays with it along with his Hudson's Heroes teammate. The Maine native works in computer programming and played the game while in high school. He'll play in three leagues per week during the fall and works as the AASL's treasurer during the spring.

In other words, anything to play more soccer and kick the ball around.

"I'm a huge soccer fanatic," McNeil said. "It's growing in popularity, and it pretty much started with the 30- and 40-year-olds passing it down to their children. Wait until 25 or 30 years from now - it will be bigger than basketball or hockey."

Mickey Emory is also in love with soccer. The 35-year-old goalie played at Annapolis High and now runs Emory Construction. When it comes to soccer, the Annapolis resident will do anything to play. Like many others, Emory also works as a coach and plays during the fall and spring seasons. He will also try to play indoor soccer in the winter.

Emory has been in this league for about 13 years.

"If you've been in the league as long as I have, you kind of get to know everyone," Emory said. "You know who you're playing against. You wouldn't believe the guys who I've met who are my best friends."

Emory has been playing soccer for 23 years and took up the sport when the game was beginning to blossom in this country. He still loves to play on teams that are successful. His Sunday team, the Peace Frogs, is 7-0.

"There're a lot of competitive people out there, and there's a lot of talent out there," Emory said.

Weaver likes to play the game hard each week but draws a line for several reasons - most of which deal with being realistic.

Many in this age group seem to have this attitude. While many still want to win at everything they do, things are different from when they were younger because if an injury makes a player miss time from work, it's truly something costly.

"You want to win, but you realize that there is a tomorrow," Weaver said. "I'm a structural engineer. I have to be able to move around. I can't break my leg. It's not worth it to me. I play this for fun."

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