Thousands to play in soccer tourney | SteamboatToday.com

Thousands to play in soccer tourney

— In a sense, Madison Slater's world turns upside down at 4 p.m. Thursday, when check-in begins and the action starts in the three-day, 160-team Steamboat Mountain Soccer tournament.

In another sense, it's already been upside down for awhile.

As director of the event, Slater said it's a full-time job preparing. He works through the end of July, takes most of the month of August off, then dives back into planning the next summer's tournament in September.

The craziness just comes with the job, however.

"It's awesome," he said. "It's such an awesome sport, and being able to host it up here in Steamboat is great. We travel a lot to other tournaments, so it's nice to host something in our home town."

In all, nearly 3,000 athletes will participate, swarming local soccer fields and playing in pools with four, five or six teams, then eventually, if all goes well, in championship showdowns Sunday. The 160 teams are the most the tournament has ever played host to.

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This year's tournament will feature a coaches' tournament on Friday evening at Gardner Field and, on Saturday, the SoccerFest Party at Gondola Square, where players will be able to participate in skills competitions and games while music blares.

The event is a fundraiser for Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer, providing much of the funding for that organization and doing much to keep fees low.

"It supports all of our scholarship athletes, and it's how we are able to keep our fees low," Slater said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9