On Saturday, May 21, 2011, the Santee Sportsplex USA, in partnership with SoccerNation.com and supported by several local businesses, honored members of the U.S. military with the first annual Armed Services Appreciation Tournament. Ten teams, seven with military members, competed in the indoor soccer tournament held on the facility’s two indoor/arena fields. The day also included a noontime ceremony honoring the military.
The day began with the first of three preliminary rounds of soccer. Teams were encouraged to include members of the military, which several did. Among those participating were the Leathernecks, a team made up in part of current and former U.S. Marines stationed at MCAS Miramar, primarily in Marine Aviation Logistic Squadron (MALS) 11. Another heavily-military group was NMCSD FC (Naval Medical Center San Diego) with active-duty and non-military personnel from Balboa Hospital. A third team with a sizeable military contingent was Not in Jordan’s House, which included Navy and Army Reserve members and one graphic designer.
The two strongest teams going into the playoffs were NMCSD FC and Das Boot, a team made up of soccer players and enthusiasts that usually play at the Poway Sportplex USA facility. Both teams went undefeated through the three preliminary rounds and finished 1-2 based on points and goals. Joining the leaders in the playoffs were SoccerNation I, sponsored by the website SoccerNation.com, and O Should’ve Ducked. The latter team, whose name was inspired by recent world events (the “O” stands for Osama), was in effect a last-minute creation and included three members of the San Diego Flash professional team (National Premiere Soccer League).
Number two seed Das Boot, which had just finished its third preliminary game moments before the playoffs began, was able to defeat third seed SoccerNation I in their game. The big surprise was fourth seed O Should’ve Ducked which defeated first seed NMCSD FC. In the championship game Das Boot took a 2-0 lead at the half and went on to beat O Should’ve Ducked 5-1. The winners received a $100 voucher for a team dinner at Buca di Beppo, medals, and mini soccer balls. The second place team received a team wings dinner at Hooters and gift bags from Sycuan Casino.
The day was not all soccer. At noon Santee Mayor Randy Voepel led a ceremony honoring members of the military. Santee is a particularly appropriate city to hold this type of ceremony because it is the only city in San Diego County to have adopted military units. Not long after 9/11, then-Congressman Duncan Hunter (Sr.) approached cities in the county with the idea of adopting military units to show their support during the War on Terrorism. Because he “didn’t want to be a slouch,” Mayor Voepel encouraged the City Council to adopt not one but two units: Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 462, the “Heavy Haulers,” from MCAS Miramar and the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment, “The Professionals,” stationed at Camp Pendleton. Also on hand for the ceremony were Miss Santee Maria Maes, Miss Santee Teen Savannah Keener, and special military guests.
Speaking near the end of the day, Sportsplex USA Director of Marketing and Development Chris Vertrees explained, “The purpose of this tournament [was] to recognize and to appreciate and honor those both active and non-active duty military. San Diego being the largest concentrated area of military in the country, we’re really happy to be a part of it.” On the success of the day he said, “We’re really happy that so far this first annual event has worked out well. It gave us a lot to build on for next year and we hope to make this something that people can look forward to for years to come.”