By Ginger DeShaney
After learning that president Billy Baker was stepping down from South Boston Youth Soccer after the COVID-19 hiatus, some former players have vowed to revive the league.
When Caitlyn Murphy got the blessing from Baker to take the ball and run with it, she recruited Samantha Mackie, Michaela Colvin, and Katelyn Evans. The foursome has been busy raising money, planning, organizing, and getting paperwork and permits in order in hopes of starting the league this fall.
While Baker gave the women his nets, balls, and other equipment, he didn’t feel comfortable giving them the league name, so they are calling it the South Boston Soccer League.
“South Boston Youth Soccer has been a thing as long as I’ve been alive,” Caitlyn said. “I’ve been involved in it since I was 4 years old.”
Caitlyn was involved first as a player, then a coach, then as an overall helper. She jokes that Baker was like her grumpy grandpa. “He wants you to do your best, but he’s so serious about it.”
So when spring signup time came around this year, Caitlyn reached out to Baker offering her help. Baker, who had run the league continuously for 35 years, told her he was stepping down.
“I was really heartbroken. This is something I did my whole life and now it’s no longer a thing,” Caitlyn said.
“So I was like, ‘I’ll take it over then. I’ll get a couple of friends … and we’re going to rejuvenate the league.’ And he was like, ‘OK, that’s great.’ ”
All four women had played in the league and immediately jumped on board. They formed a nonprofit and registered with Mass Youth Soccer. Each woman has a full-time job (and Caitlyn also has a part-time job at the Ollie), but they set aside time to work on the league because it’s a priority for them.\
Having a league like this is incredibly important, Caitlyn said. “I never thought of myself as an athlete, but now looking back I was always playing sports. I think more than anything, it’s for the fun of it. I played soccer in high school, and it was really competitive. And I was like, ‘Oh my, this is fairly intense.’ And then on the weekends, I would play Southie soccer with my friends and I’m like, this is just like us, hanging out and having fun and doing something constructive with our time.”
She wants today’s youth to look back on their childhoods and remember the time they played a game under the lights, or played in the rain … “those core memories that I hope we all have from our childhoods.”
While the organizers are changing the league name, they plan to follow the league’s timeline for everything else, such as the game schedules, the parade, the banquet. “He’s had the same schedule since I’ve been alive,” Caitlyn said. “It’s very routine.”
Because the equipment is pretty old, the foursome has raised funds for seed money. They ran a squares fundraiser and had an in-person event Friday at the Seapoint and have met their goal of $2,000.
Their next steps include reaching out to sponsors, getting signups online (Baker was famous for his old-school ways), taking inventory, and ordering gear and equipment.
“It’s a lot to undertake, but we are really excited,” Caitlyn said.
“We’re really in a good spot for having come up with this in the last two months,” Caitlyn said. When Baker retired, he laid such a good foundation and introduced Caitlyn to his connections. And Mass Youth Soccer has been really great, as well.
“We’ve had a lot of help from a lot of different people just to get this far.”
The group would like to see 300-400 kids in the following age groups: under 4, under 6, under 8, under 10, and possibly under 12, 14, and 16.
South Boston Soccer League will be meeting with City Kids, a league that was created during the pandemic, to work together.
“We don’t want to be competitors. We want to be supportive of each other,” Caitlyn said. “Our goal is for kids to have soccer and have fun. And however we can work together, that’s what we’ll do.”
To get involved with South Boston Soccer League as a coach, volunteer, or sponsor, email the board at email@example.com.
Follow the league on Instagram @southbostonsoccerleague