The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 30 - May 10, 2017


Beach House Real Estate – gridiron champs

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

monica simpson | SUN

Tournament ready, the AMI Center Select Team, with coaches
Rick and Ted Hurst, represent the Island in state-wide U11 youth
soccer tournaments this season.



For years, I had soulful conversations with Paul "Ace" Hayward about his dream of forming a youth island soccer team on Anna Maria Island. Fondly, he would reminisce about his experiences as a boy in Canada and hoped to someday form a team that could practice, play, travel and grow together, becoming brothers in the sport that Hayward lived and breathed.

Hayward's love of soccer is forever engrained on the Island with the friendships that he formed on the pitch, the kids that he coached and the legacy he left behind. His smiledeep spirit is memorialized at the Island's community center with a iconic Hayward picture at the corner of the soccer field, thanks to dear friend Tim Tadesco.

The dream of an Island youth soccer team has become a reality with the formation of the AMI Center Select Team. Although he never knew Hayward, Coach Rick Hurst shared Hayward's vision and brought together 13 island area boys to form the traveling team, taking Center soccer to another level and creating stronger athletes at the competitive level.

With the support of The Center, Hurst's team practices multiple times a week and scrimmages against the players in the 11- to 14-year-old league, preparing for tournament play.

Ranging in age from seven to 10 years old, practicing and playing together for months now, the team has become a group of friends. All but four of the boys attend Anna Maria Elementary School.

Assisted by his son Ted, Hurst is an E-licensed soccer coach with five years of experience coaching travel teams in Michigan. Returning from his junior year at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, where he plays soccer, Ted started to coach at The Center in the spring of 2016 with his father for his sister Tori's team.

The youngest player on the team, Ewen Cloutier, is joined by his brother, Kieren. Ewen plays the instrumental role of the emergency player during tournament play, being added as a substitute player if needed.

Not initially on the roster starting at the age of six, Hurst quickly recognized Ewen's ability on the field and saw his participation on the team as a win-win: additional skill on the team and more training for the young player. Playing in the first game, he proved he could play along with the bigger kids without missing a beat.

Matt Cawte and Jack Mattick are the youngest members of the starting roster. Coming onto the team with travel soccer experience, Matt is one of the more skilled players.

Jack is noted by his coach as " ... one of the most fearless (players)." Hurst's concerns about his age were quickly extinguished, as Jack has quickly become the most improved player on the team.

Just turning nine in April, Gregory Jordan loves soccer and is currently on three teams. Off of the assist of teammate Riley Lawson, Gregory scored a key goal in the team's first win.

Considering himself a pure defender, Kieren Cloutier holds down the left side of the field for the Select Team, often setting the defensive tone of the game.

Mason Agnelli, who attends Bradenton Christian School, is seen as one of the most versatile players on the team. Playing many positions on the field, midfielder Mason helped his team to their first victory.

Saint Stephen's Falcon, Jackson Pakbaz is solid in every position, bringing something to the field that no other player does, according to Hurst. His strong defense play was critical in the Select Team's first win.

Rounding out the AMI Center Select Team, the 10-year olds bring size and experience to the field. Jackson Kruse, student at Stewart Elementary School, works hard for his team as a solid center back. Coach Hurst values Jackson's ability to play this position well as it solidifies his defense, and he is able to cleanup mistakes that might be made on the field.

Hurst gives Riley Lawson accolades for being the fastest player on the team with great ball handling skills. It is anticipated that the Palma Sola Elementary student will help with the team scoring in tournament play.

Coming onto the Select Team with travel ball experience, Eric McDonald brings his skills as an attacking midfielder to the pitch. Eric is a play maker and brings the level of play up on his team and is credited with the team's first goal.

Over the years, Islanders have watched Anthony Nyugen and Aiden Templeton grow into strong soccer players. With their natural athletic talents and experience, both players are an asset to the Select Team.

Anthony is one of the top forwards on the team with a knack for picking up new skills quickly. Aiden is a midfielder who wins the ball and owns his position.

Assuming the critical role of goalkeeper, Nick Yatros uses his long punt as a weapon. Along with big saves, Nick's defensive strengths are an asset to his team.As a new team, the Bradenton Cup was the first tournament for the Select Team. Hurst anticipated that the first game might not be a victory on the scoreboard, but a win for the boys, the team, and the Island for having representation at the Lakewood Ranch tournament.

Playing at a faster pace, the AMI Center Select Team was scored on in the first 20 seconds of the first tournament game. Losing the first game 12-0, good coaching came into play. Coach Hurst said he "… knew we just need to get that one over with and talk about it."

With position changes, players who were missing from the first game and a pep talk in between, the Select Team stayed competitive, losing the second game 1-0. With a good night's sleep and a little more tweaking, the Island team found victory with the third game winning it 4-1.

The island's Select Team is a mixed roster of experience levels and ages playing in the U11 Division. Most, if not all, of the players in this division were born in 2006. The Island team only has six players that are truly in that age group.

Representing Anna Maria Island well, the team entered its second tournament, the Adidas Cup in Brandon, with a lot of optimism. The team finished second in its bracket tying its first game 2-2, winning their second game 6-0, and finishing tired but accomplished in the third game with the score 2-5.

As the AMI Center Select Team continues to train on the Island, Hayward looks down onto the field pleased to see the love of the sport of soccer continues through Rick and Ted Hurst and their band of boys. The spirit of the 11-man gang lives on through the boots of these 13 boys and the many recreational soccer players at The Center every week, the coaches, and their families and friends on the Island.

"For the love of the game," Hayward would say with an approving smile.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper