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Wesleyan Winter Classic hosts fifth annual futsal tournament this weekend

The Corn Palace city has been known for its basketball, but Dakota Wesleyan University men’s soccer coach Jeremy Tosaya is hoping that will change with the growth of soccer.

This year’s Wesleyan Winter Classic — a tournament Tosaya began five years ago — has reached new heights, hosting 79 teams.

“Mitchell is starting to become associated with soccer and provides kids a different opportunity to stay active in the winters,” Tosaya said.

The most teams the futsal tournament — which is played on a smaller pitch or field and on hard court — has hosted is 50.

“It’s the longest running youth futsal tournament on the east side of the state,” Tosaya said, adding Brookings, Watertown, Aberdeen and Augustana College have all hosted futsal tournaments since Mitchell began its event in 2010. “Futsal is really big in Europe and South America, and it’s technically a different sport than soccer.”

The tournament, which is Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, will be played at the Christen Family Wellness Center on DWU’s campus and the Mitchell Middle School. There are girls’ and boys’ divisions for U10, U12, U14, U15 and U19.

There are eight teams fielded by the Mitchell Soccer Association, which works alongside Tosaya to help the event run.

“Last year, Mitchell Soccer Association only had three teams in its own tournament,” Tosaya said. “They have more teams that have traveled to play in other tournaments around South Dakota, so when Mitchell travels to other places, they want to reciprocate.”

Jodie Cain-Lambert, the MSA president, said the association has worked hard in the past several years to help build a statewide soccer family.

“Our goal is to partner up with the other soccer associations in the state because without them, we can’t survive,” she said. “We want to help each other’s programs grow.”

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.