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Indoor soccer on the rise with help from MSA

Despite the bitterly cold weather this winter, Mitchell area soccer players are finding time to play in the offseason.

Athletes are playing on Mitchell Soccer Association sponsored teams, which play the sport indoors during the winter months.

“We have opportunities for kids to play year-round,” MSA President Jodie Cain-Lambert said. “Players can play as little as they want or as much as they want.”

Players ages 4 through 19 are allowed to participate in the year-round soccer program. Kids ages 7 through 19 have the option to compete for a number of traveling teams, which compete in tournaments and games around the state.

The association also runs a soccer academy for kids ages 4 through 8, which works on skill development.

Mitchell High School girls’ soccer coach Kayla Braffet is happy her team has the opportunity to play the sport in the offseason.

“I am super excited,” Braffet said. “I know last year the girls only practiced when they had open gyms. Any time the players can get their foot on the ball in the offseason, it’s going to lead to good things during the season.”

Braffet, who just finished her first year as head coach of the Kernels, is not allowed to coach any of the players during the offseason, but thinks the association does a good job hiring the coaches for the traveling teams.

Cain-Lambert said it is difficult to find gymnasiums to rent during the winter for teams to practice and play in. MSA teams practice at the Armory, Mitchell Middle School and Mitchell Christian.

“As a coach, I say the participation year-round reflects our society,” Mitchell Christian/Mount Vernon soccer coach Bob Lemon said. “A lot of kids play other sports throughout the year, and whether that is good or bad is each person’s opinion. But it does help the kids to be able to play soccer year-round.”

MSA has traveling teams from U8 through U19 and has 120 kids in the program.

When MSA teams are not in town, they are traveling to other indoor tournaments in Watertown, Brookings or Sioux Falls, where they are competing this weekend. The association is also hosting an indoor soccer tournament in conjunction with Dakota Wesleyan University at the end of the month in Mitchell.

The Wesleyan Winter Classic will be held Feb. 28-March 1 at the Christen Family Wellness Center on DWU’s campus and at Mitchell Middle School.