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Sumter Soccer Club wins in four divisions at state tournament

Out of the Sumter's six soccer divisions, four teams won in the Greenville tournament this weekend. Club president Matt Ayers says the group is like a "family."

SUMTER, S.C. — The Sumter Soccer Club is a celebrating after four out of the county’s six teams won their divisions in the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association games this weekend. The travel teams headed to Greenville to show off their skills. 

Sumter resident Lisa Wilmes spent her weekend watching her sons RJ and Dylan play.

"It’s huge and we couldn’t be more proud of them. It’s just really exciting. It’s really exciting to watch them grow and learn," Wilmes said. "The whole thing is nerve wracking, it is exciting. You feel every emotion at every game."

Now, that emotion is pure excitement after this weekend's wins.

"I really just run down the field like 'Yeahhhh!” 10-year-old Dylan told me."Two years before we didn’t win any games, so it’s a really big, like, step."

It’s progression that the whole club is excited about because of its smaller size, according to Sumter Soccer Club President Matt Ayers. 

"You see those kind of overlaps where you really get to know a family on a much more personal level than maybe you would if the team had a larger structure," Ayers said. "This has been a really great way for our family to really connect with the community…it is a lot of travel and it can be tiresome, but when you’re doing it with people that you’re friends with and your children know each other, it’s really rewarding."

Wilmes agrees.

"They've become some of our best friends. We talk daily, we spend at least four days a week out here together and then our Saturdays and Sundays, team dinners, team lunches, team watch parties. We’re having a World Cup watch party," she said about the community her family has formed with the other players. "We’re a military family, so it’s really great to be able to kinda dive into something like this and connect with people who are like-minded and really want the best for their kids. And they’ve become family."

No matter what they're doing, RJ says he just likes being around his friends.

"It’s fun going down like the street to the soccer field and just kicking around and having fun," he shared.

The soccer season is over for the league, but preparations for the spring season will start with try outs in January. Ayers tells News 19 that he hopes this winning season will encourage other families to get involved.

"To get as many kids from the Sumter area and local communities involved in playing soccer as possible. That’s our whole goal," Ayers explained. "It feels almost like a family. We have a whole, you know, program where we share rides back and forth for some of the longer weekends. When we go, we stay in hotels."

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