Written by Jillian Netherland | Photography by Mark Turcotte
For those seeking a coed competitive soccer experience, Auburn Rec Ingersoll Turf Arena is the place to be Thursday nights from September through May. Attracting players from Poland to Augusta, Auburn’s coed league is a rare gem among adult soccer leagues in Maine.
Shelter from the cold – a league is born
Those native to Lewiston Auburn may recall when the Rec department’s ice arena building was renovated into what is now known as the Ingersoll Turf Arena. Having the perfect facility in place for indoor sports shined a light on the lack of options for adult soccer teams in the area, particularly during the winter months. Previously working as General Manager of a sports complex in Portland, Jeremy Gatcomb, Auburn Rec Director, was familiar with the soccer league format and identified the need to offer a sport for adults who did not play basketball or hockey.
“The winter season here is so long, and at times, can be brutal,” says Gatcomb. “Not everyone is a skier, snowboarder, or snowmobiler. Indoor sports provide an alternative option for getting out and doing something.”
Almost as an experiment, the first adult coed soccer league season was held in 2015 with the help of fellow Auburn Rec employee Heath Crocker, who was part of the beginning days of the Ingersoll Turf Arena. An experiment that proved successful and has continued into its eighth season. This success is due, in part, to its coed status – something that is not found in many areas throughout Maine.
“Many areas host men’s soccer leagues, a few have women’s leagues, but coed leagues are hard to find,” shares Crocker, who continues to run the Rec’s soccer program. “The coed league has more of a family type of atmosphere to it – significant others playing together, older players mixed with younger players.
It’s more of a slow-paced recreational experience versus
For sport or for glory – you decide
That doesn’t mean the league is void of competition, though. The Auburn Rec coed soccer league runs over the course of four eight-week sessions, with game requirements of having seven players on the field at all times, three females, and four males – while some teams are there purely for the social aspect, other players are there to win.
“Some teams are ultra-competitive, while others are made up of groups of friends just looking to do something active and different,” explains Gatcomb. “It can be a delicate balance between the competitive and social teams, but we make it work to ensure everyone has the best experience.”
This social aspect has extended beyond the Ingersoll Turf Arena and into the community at large, as many players travel to be part of Auburn’s coveted coed league. Players make a night of it, going out with teammates to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company at local establishments following their weekly games.
“Allowing males and females to play together in a laid back, fun, but also competitive atmosphere has brought back that feeling of team camaraderie,” states Crocker.
Team standings are tracked through the regular season, ending with one night of playoffs. This culmination of each season occurs in an abbreviated style of games. Each game played for a shortened duration of time, ensuring that all games conclude by 10:30 pm.
Room for everyone
The process is simple for those interested in starting or joining a team: go to Crocker.
“My email is everywhere: in the brochures, on the website, our Facebook page,” shares Crocker. “I’m always happy to discuss the schedule, pricing, rules, or connect individuals looking to join a team who do not already have their own.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the teams form on their own before coming to us,” adds Gatcomb. “Every once in a while, we’ll have an individual reach out that we try to connect with other teams to ensure everyone who wants to play gets to play.”
Those interested in starting or joining a team are encouraged to reach out to Crocker in August once the Turf Arena’s schedule has been set for the following year. Each year’s first session begins in September, with playoffs occurring in April or May, depending on the season.
More than a game
The Auburn Recreation Parks Department takes pride in offering exceptional recreational programming, athletic fields, and public facilities for all ages and abilities, ranging from summer camps for school-aged children to yoga classes for seniors. Its biggest programs, though, are its youth and adult sports leagues.
“It’s definitely a challenge balancing two completely different philosophies,” Gatcomb shares. “There are different aspects to consider when running a league for adults versus youth, but in both, it mostly all comes down to being fair, staying honest, and keeping an open line of communication.”
This standard of integrity speaks to ensuring equal playing time among leagues, maintaining ideal playing conditions on the fields, and high-quality gameplay. Between the high volume of original players from 2015 returning season after season, coupled with the growth of new teams and players, it’s safe to say these standards continue to be met.
“It’s a massive juggling act to keep everyone happy, keep it competitive, and keep it fair,” Gatcomb confides. “Short of Portland, we have one of the biggest adult leagues in the state between men’s, women’s, coed, and senior leagues. I’m hoping to continue to grow as we get more fields in the next five plus years and see our numbers grow even larger.”
Auburn Recreation Parks Department
48 Pettengill Park • Auburn