Rec bball set for 2018, soccer headed to Donaldsonville

Kyle Riviere

The Ascension Parish Recreation Committee met last week, and youth sports was one of the many topics that was discussed.

Most notably, the committee talked about what to expect for next year’s basketball season, and also, it was decided that youth soccer is on its way to Donaldsonville.

The catastrophic August flood left its lasting impact on the parish as it left homes, businesses and schools under as much as five feet of water and in need of months of repairs.

Ball parks and gyms were also in the flood’s path of destruction.

As a result, fall ball in the parish was cancelled. Also, the Ascension Youth Basketball Association had to cancel their 2016-17 season. Six of the eight gyms that they use were either flooded, damaged or repurposed.

Fortunately for the parish’s young basketball players, the program will be back up and running next season. However, there will be a few changes.

"We’re going to have a basketball season this year, but it may be a little bit of a different format, because we don’t have access to the gyms that we normally have,” Director Rickey DeArmond said. “Some still haven't been repaired from the flood, but in talking to the school board reps, we’re going to have some gyms. We normally play our games on Saturdays, but we may have to play some games during the week to make this work.”

Along with the return of recreation basketball throughout Ascension, youth soccer is on its way back to Donaldsonville.

A representative of the Gonzales Soccer Club, along with Mark Peters were there to make a proposal to the committee.

Peters has run Hope Youth Development—a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for youth in Ascension.

“In 2003, I created the Donaldsonville Soccer Club, and we built a partnership with the YMCA, and we were able to do soccer twice a year," Peters said. "We started our first year with about 50 kids and built that up to about 100 kids, twice a year.

"For the soccer program, once the YMCA closed down, we were able to continue it independently with Donaldsonville Soccer Club, and we ran that for another six and a half years. Roughly, we had the program for 10 years and had roughly 200 kids playing soccer in Donaldsonville each year."

Peters said that the Gonzales Soccer Club wants to pick up where the Donaldsonville Soccer Club left off years back.

He said that Ascension Catholic High doesn't have a soccer program, so "this will be the only soccer on the west bank between Port Allen and Laplace."

The Gonzales Soccer Club has currently employed full-time directors. They have nearly 20 competitive staff coaches, close to 10 academy coaches, their own groundskeeper and over 1,500 members in Ascension Parish.

They proposed a six-year plan for Donaldsonville.

The first two years will be about securing soccer on the west bank and letting everyone know they're there.

The third year will be about building and expanding, and years four through six will be about self-sustaining the soccer program.

The seasons for the Gonzales Soccer Club usually run from February to late April and from September to November, but they're flexible on when they'll begin play in Donaldsonville.

The committee approved the plan, making way for recreational soccer in Donaldsonville for the future.