A Hummel Report Investigation
For the Kids
The league's motto is ``Remember, It's For the Kids'' - and for 30 years the Ocean State Soccer School in North Kingstown has taught thousands of players not only the nuances of the game, but some life lessons as well. This week Jim Hummel finds out why this volunteer organization is unique in Rhode Island.
For the past three decades it has been a jewel in North Kingstown - where boys and girls of all ages play soccer on 50 bucolic acres right in the middle of town.
The Ocean State Soccer School - located in the heart of North Kingstown, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The league began in 1983 with 50 players - and this year will register nearly 1,400 for both recreational and competitive soccer, playing both spring and fall.
Montanaro: ``We're an all-volunteer organization so it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of good people to keep it going.''
John Montanaro became president of the league's board of directors in the summer of 1999 after coaching his own three children beginning in the mid-'90s. Like many here, he'd never coached before.
Ocean State is one of only two soccer organizations in Rhode Island that owns its own land - a total of 50 acres that includes fields directly adjacent to Stony Lane - and a new set of fields in the back developed several years ago.
It all might have turned out much differently.
For 16 years the league had been renting the property for a dollar a year from Nik Nickoloff. But that changed within weeks of Montanaro's becoming president 14 years ago.
Montanaro: ``The owner stated he was selling the property and we had roughly about a year to vacate the property.''
Hummel: ``Wow...what did you think when you got that letter?''
Montanaro: ``My jaw dropped. I was pretty much in shock and disbelief. My immediate response was - we've got to do something about that. What are we going to do?''
So the board mobilized, putting together a strategic plan to buy the property - wondering how it would finance the asking price of $300,000. Montanaro says they eventually secured funding from the Champlin Foundation and the Nature Conservancy - as the acquisition involved both recreation and preservation. A $275,000 grant - and a donation by Nickoloff back to Ocean State of $25,000 made it all happen.