BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony boys soccer team will have the use of a new kicking machine this year. Money for the piece of equipment, which clocks in around $5,000, was donated by a handful of sources.
In exchange, one of those sources — husband and wife Mick and Sue Goldsmith — added a sticker to the machine, in honor of their son Lee, a Mount Anthony soccer captain and graduate who passed in 2009 from cancer.
It's just one way that boys varsity coach Mike Molloy and the Goldsmiths' keep their son's memory alive to another class of students. Another way is the pre-season tournament which bears Lee's name — an event coming up, as usual, on the last Saturday before players start their fall practice at Willow Park.
The tournament, now into its eighth season, came about in the summer of 2009, after Lee had died the spring before. Assistant coach Jeremy Neill and Mick Goldsmith wanted to come up with a way to keep Lee's memory alive. The pre-eminent thought was an alumni tournament, as Lee was a 2001 alum of Mount Anthony.
But Neill decided to make it a high-school age tournament.
"[Lee's] classmates wanted to play, but Jeremy gets credit for making it high school only, it has a [bigger] impact on the players," said Molloy, who will be entering his eighth season as the MAU varsity coach and coached Lee himself when Goldsmith was in the eighth grade.
To participate, players have to be enrolled in high school in September and all-male or co-ed team, with at least four male players, are allowed. Teams will have six field players and a goalkeeper for 25-minute mini-games and play begins at 11 a.m.
Teams from Burr and Burton, Rutland and Twin Valley — as well as at least two from Mount Anthony — are all set to play on Saturday.
"Pete Mull, Buddy Hayford and Ron Henderson have all been great helping us with this," Molloy said, talking about the coaches from BBA, Twin Valley and Rutland, respectively.
It's become a little more difficult to get teams to play, because being in the summer, coaches for the school teams are not responsible for getting the teams together, it's up to the players.
"Every year it's tough, I'm trying to get some [Berkshire] Ajax kids [from Massachusetts] to play," Molloy said. "I love the timing of the tournament because it means the season is right around the corner and it can give you a chance to judge to see who's ready [for the season] and who isn't."
It also gives Molloy a chance to see what kind of leadership he'll have with his younger players.
"Our MAU A is the older players, but the MAU B is mostly freshmen and sophomores," Molloy said. "You can see who is a leader and it's a great way to see what's coming along."
Even the winners' trophy has a story. Molloy said that Tim Brown, the Mount Anthony athletic director, was going to throw away an old soccer trophy. Molloy took the trophy, engraved the names of the winners on it and gave it to the Goldsmiths, who keep it during the year and bring it out for the year's tournament.
"The rest of the time, it sits on Mick and Sue's mantle in their living room," Molloy said.
To get involved, teams must be registered before August 13 by calling or texting Molloy at 802-375-4006. The cost to register is $70 per team.