MUSC Soccer Gear Exchange
How many pairs of soccer cleats are outgrown after just one year of use within the Mountaineer United soccer community? Hundreds! Add to that number all the outgrown jerseys. Then include shorts, socks and shin guards in that tally also. There are at least several hundred individual soccer items that become too small for their original wearers - every year - within MUSC.
Toss in adult-sized gear that gets retired because the original owners replaced their cleats or bought new shin guards. That's a lotta gear!
What happens to this veritable mountain of used but still perfectly good gear? Some gets handed down within families, or given to friends. But because of the Mountaineer United Gear Exchange, none of it should be thrown away ever again and all of it can have a second life.
In 2012, MUSC soccer players and soccer moms Amy Huckaby, Linda Stack, and Jennifer Lyons saw this situation of so many kids outgrowing their gear and decided to do something. How could they help the soccer community get more life out of their gear, help other Club members save money, and make participation more affordable? They created the Mountaineer United Soccer Club Gear Exchange.
The MUSC Gear Exchange is housed in two gear closets, one each in the pavilions at Cheat Lake Fields and Laurel Point Fields. Lowe's and Pro Performance each donated half the cost for these protective structures.
Participation is simple - any time either field complex is open during the soccer seasons, the closets are open. Just drop off or pick up gear on an as-need basis - the honor system is in full force here. One does not need to drop off gear in order to pick up gear.
Donors are requested to launder items, put socks, shorts, jerseys and shin guards in Ziploc bags, label the bags with pertinent information, and tie cleats together by their shoe laces - as per the instructions on the door of each closet. Everything except cleats should be in Ziplocs.
The Gear Exchange makes it possible for soccer kids to 'get totally geared out' or close to it, except for their current team jerseys. This program makes it easier on families who's kids might not be able to play if they had to buy all-new gear every year.
Right now, the gear closets are in use, and people are benefiting. But if using this program became Standard Operating Procedure for every family in the Club, this program could expand by an order of magnitude, and these closets could grow into walk-in closets, with hundreds of items housed within each. Imagine the 'shopping experience' of walking into a closet the size of a tool shed and browsing racks full of shoes, clothing, and balls. It's possible. We already have the numbers within our overall membership. It just takes all of our participation.
During summer time, between Registration and the Beginning Of Season, access is frequently available - the fields are usually open because of the summer adult soccer season.
At the ends of both Spring and Autumn Seasons, Amy and Jennifer need help cleaning out the closets and re-organizing them. Contact Whitey McDaniel, MUSC President, if you're interested in helping in this way.
At the end of each Spring Season, a further element in this program kicks into gear. That is when MUSC sends off its excess gear to:
* Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club - Morgantown WV (they are a new Partner organization to MUSC!)
* Pittsburgh City Soccer Club - a club aimed at under-served youth http://www.pittsburghsoccer.org/home.html
* Cameroon Football Development Program - Founded by a WV Native - Justin Forzano, who also works directly with Pittsburgh City Soccer Club
* Additionally, at one point in time, some locally-collected gear was redistributed through the Passback program of the U.S. Soccer Federation, a program that redistributes new and used gear across the nation to help children in underserved communities play soccer.
Through these connections, both within and beyond our locale, extra gear gets to a place where "...kids usually have no hope of having that stuff ... and some of those kids are playing in bare feet..." said Amy Huckaby.
So far, she describes the amount of participation as "gratifying" considering that the project has not really been publicized very much. The program is currently poised to grow a lot bigger. MUSC is looking at establishing stronger connections with the WVU men's and women's soccer programs to bring in donations from that sector of our area's soccer activity. Maybe we will have a permanent sister country or sister organization. Maybe we will indeed outgrow the current closets and need new sheds as walk-in closets. With your participation, donating and/or receiving, we'll get there.
Here's what you can donate to the MUSC Soccer Gear Exchange:
Everything must be cleaned first, and all items should be in Ziplocs except shoes, which should be tied together. Search your closet today, and if you can, donate some gear to the MUSC Gear Exchange. Another soccer player will appreciate it.