RALEIGH — Twelve area high school soccer teams, 10 hours of exhibition games and two head-shaving stations converged at WRAL Soccer Center on Saturday as part of the third annual Kick it to Cancer event.
Kick it to Cancer, put on by the Panther Creek athletics department, began in 2007 when athletic director and head coach Todd Schuler and his squad were looking for a way to give back to the soccer community, he said. They wanted the event to benefit the community at large, and he said supplying funds to a cancer organization was the best way to do that.
"Everybody on the team can kind of relate to it," he said. "Almost everybody knows somebody, if not personally or directly, then indirectly, that's been affected by cancer."
In 2007, the American Cancer Society reaped the benefits, and last year the funds went locally to the V Foundation.
This year, after partnering with the Carolina RailHawks, Schuler and the jamboree took advantage of the RailHawks' previous relationship with the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity that aims to raise awareness and funds by supporting pediatric cancer research and fellowships.
As is tradition at St. Baldrick's Foundation, there was a head-shaving event held to raise donations on site, and many of the squads and fans took advantage of the convenient means to a haircut, provided by Apex's Sports Clips stylists.
"We had a couple kids get their hair cut today, and I think they were really more excited about that," Durham Jordan coach Steve Turner said with a laugh.
Schuler said the fundraiser would allow the squads to make a contribution of about $1,000 to St. Baldrick's.
The field included 10 playoff squads from 2008, and the talent was on display all day. Each team played three 50-minute games, and several of them impressed or surprised during the course of Saturday.
Turner's Jordan squad was one of those that impressed, but he said the more important aspect of the scrimmages was the opportunity to do some team-building and maybe make a few adjustments.
"You get to play around with your lineups and play everybody, maybe see some things that you didn't know you were going to see," he said. "Plus all the guys enjoy it, and that's the most important thing."
This was the first year the event was held at CASL's headquarters, and it allowed two games to be played at once and the field to be opened for more squads to participate.
"It definitely made it easier, the facility is great," Schuler said. "You know, with the whole thing, we really just want to come out, have some fun, play some quality teams and get ready for the season in the process."
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