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Bringing experience to the soccer field

By WESLEY REMMER

Staff writer

They’re nimble and unflagging. Dedicated and unflappable. They’re Boeing employees, stay-at-home moms, hair stylists and doctors.

From Belfair to Bremerton to Kingston to Seabeck they come from all walks of life, each sharing a common passion: soccer.

Meet the Fun 50s — Kitsap County’s (premier) 18-member over-50 women’s soccer team.

You can find ‘em at the Olympic Soccer & Sports Center in Bremerton, where they convene every Monday night, scrimmaging for about an hour on one of the facility’s three indoor fields.

“It’s like running on your living room carpet,” player Carol Johnson, 62, says of the somewhat-forgiving synthetic turf. “It’s easier on my old bones.”

They wear shin guards and cleats, sweatbands and athletic shorts. Each woman jogs up and down the field, calling for passes, weaving between defenders, shooting for the goal, occasionally tumbling to the turf.

“These are my friends,” Johnson says. “We are great friends, we’ve grown together.”

Johnson’s recreational soccer career — like many of her teammates — began 30 years ago when her son played on a local youth team. Intrigued by the game, Johnson and other team mothers approached the coach about learning how to play.

“We thought it would be fun to play,” Johnson explains. “His (my son’s) coach was teaching us — the mothers — how to play.”

The ladies took a liking to the game, formed a team and began competing in the over-30 league — during the late 70s.

Most have taken a lump or two — it’s been three decades, after all — but most remain agile and in good playing shape.

“I’ve had friends blow out knees, break wrists ... “ Johnson confirms. “We don’t want to get hurt anymore than we already are.”

One current team member battled cancer, playing through treatment.

And while some enjoy the camaraderie, others the friendly competition, each player on the Fun-50s loves the exercise.

“It’s just the pure sweat of it, for me,” player Karen Benoit said convincingly. “It’s about the sweat.”

“It’s good to keep our bodies moving,” adds Lois Stromberg. “Instead of a sewing club, we have the soccer club.”

And each Monday the club meets for a weekly game, selecting sides at random and squaring off like they did on Day One. Teams are determined by answers to the week’s particular selection topic.

A sample of the sometimes-game-changing topics, which call for even-numbered answers to one side and odd-numbered answers to the other: total number of children in family; number of household pets; last number in home address; and length of current marriage.

Evens here, odds there.

On this night, teams are decided by birthday as women born on an even-numbered day wear white shirts, while those born on an odd day wear darks.

It’s an important process and as one player points out post-game, after losing 6-4, the selection topic makes all the difference in the world.

“It’s only because (Deedee) was there,” she jokes off the loss to fellow teammates following the final buzzer.

Deedee Ryen, 49, technically too young to play for an over-50 team, controlled the game. They put her in goal after her “darks” took a commanding 6-1 lead.

Many members of the Fun 50s also belong to the Washington State Women’s Soccer Association, playing on a more time-consuming traveling squad.

The Olympic Soccer & Sports Center is located at 1199 Union Ave., Bremerton. It offers soccer leagues for ages four and up. For more information, call (360) 479-8388 or visit www.olympicindoorsoccer.com.

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