“A soccer reunion”: Pelham soccer legends return home for alumni game

Published 5:32 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – While nobody kept score, all of the Pelham soccer graduates who played in the school’s alumni game on Saturday, July 15 won as they enjoyed a night of fun on the campus they call home.

The event brought together a wide range of alumni for a pair of pickup games on Pelham’s football field, from alumni who live in town and regularly make it to games to former players who travelled from out of state just to make it to the reunion, and from former stars to role players.

The players caught up with old friends, but by the time the second game rolled around, they had made new ones from all eras of Pelham soccer.

“It was a really good event,” Pelham boys soccer coach Patrick McDonald said. “Even after we stopped playing, probably 30, 45 minutes after, they’re still just hanging out and just talking. It was much like a class reunion, but it was a soccer reunion.”

Before they started playing, coaches McDonald and Lance Curry gave the players a tour of Pelham’s new soccer facilities so they could see how the program has grown since they left. For some of the older players, they didn’t even have a locker to call their own, and now the soccer teams have their own section of Pelham’s fieldhouse as well as a grass practice field built specifically for the soccer team behind the softball field.

As the players saw their team photos hanging in the fieldhouse and shared stories with the other alumni, McDonald couldn’t help but feel proud. This was a full-circle moment for him, as the alumni ranged from members of his first team in 2007 to 2023 graduates who just took Pelham back to the playoffs.

“It’s nice to be able to see the fruits of your labor because, you know, we don’t do this thinking about the compensation,” McDonald said. “We did this thinking about our players and providing a chance for them to be successful and to represent their school and their community, and for them to have this opportunity to come back and see how the program has flourished since they went alumnus and became an alumni is a cool thing to see.”

Coach McDonald said they have held alumni games sporadically in the past, but he hopes to make this an annual tradition. He wants to hold the next game closer to the start of soccer season so that people who couldn’t make it in the summer would have a chance to see their fellow alumni again.

McDonald is especially proud of the turnout because the game was announced on coach Curry’s Facebook page and most of the players heard of it by word of mouth off of that post. He is proud that the players care so much about Pelham that they would come back, keep in touch with their teammates and coaches and give back to the program that they played for.

“For them to come back as adults and for them to still have the passion for the program and the love, it’s truly one of the reasons why it makes this job so awesome is the bonds you make with your players and for those to be lasting bonds and not something that’s just fleeting for a season,” McDonald said.