QUINCY — The Quinsippi Soccer League has been a part of Brad Burghart’s life since he played his first game at age 7. Now 53, he is the president of the league. He’s been a member of the all-volunteer board of directors since 1992.
This fall, for the first time since the league was created in 1967, Burghart and his volunteer workforce finally is getting help.
Registrations for the Quinsippi Soccer League’s fall 2021 season for players in kindergarten through the eighth grade will be handled this summer by the Quincy Family YMCA. Parents can register their child to play at the YMCA website, or they can go to the YMCA at 3101 Maine.
Testing the water
Burghart said the QSL reached out to the YMCA after the 2019 season to discuss getting help with registration. QSL coaches also were charged with getting players to fill out registration forms and collect player fees in previous years.
“(The YMCA has) never done soccer before, and Jim Chamberlain (the YMCA’s chief executive officer) said he didn’t know much about soccer,” Burghart said. “He’s like, ‘Let’s just kind of, you know, test the water and see how this goes.’
“I’m not sure where we’re headed … but there’s been talk amongst our board. You know, what’s the next step? After a while, you just can’t constantly rely on volunteer support to do this properly.”
— Brad Burghart, Quinsippi Soccer League
“I’m going to put together all the teams. (The YMCA is) going to put (the names) on a spreadsheet and email it to me at the end of every night. Then I can start formulating teams and calling parents to get volunteer coaches and stuff like that. At this point, it’s just going to be an administrative connection.”
Asked about a larger future relationship with the YMCA if the registration goes well this fall, Burghart replied, “Definitely possible.”
“I’m not sure where we’re headed … but there’s been talk amongst our board. You know, what’s the next step?” he said. “After a while, you just can’t constantly rely on volunteer support to do this properly.”
Attempts to get a comment from Jim Chamberlain, chief executive officer at the Quincy YMCA, were unsuccessful.
Complex, league must be given to not-for-profit group
If the volunteer board of directors chooses to relinquish control of the league and the property, league by-laws mandate the 20-acre Paul Dennis Soccer Complex and the Quinsippi Soccer League must be given to a not-for-profit group that will continue to use the property for youth sports.
Quinsippi Soccer League games were played in various parks and at schools throughout Quincy until the complex was built in 1987. The Dennis family used the property on the north side of 42nd and State Street for a chicken farm before it was converted into soccer fields.
Participation in the Quinsippi Soccer League has been on a precipitous decline in the past two decades. League figures show 1,922 boys and girls played on a QSL team in 1998. That figure dropped to 1,225 participants by 2006. Burghart said the number of players in 2019 “hovered around 600” with 48 teams.
No QSL games were played in 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Burghart hopes participation numbers return to at least pre-COVID levels.
“I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s been two years. It’s very possible that (the pandemic) could affect us, but according to the Y, they have seen a real uptick in registrations for all of their sports. They say it’s almost like a new thing and everybody’s all reinvigorated to get their kids involved.”
Burghart believes the partnership has the potential to be beneficial to both sides.
“Their kids are our kids, and the same kids who are participating in their sports are doing ours,” he said. “It’s recreational, it’s for fun and for education and development. That’s basically what we’re both after.”
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