Join the Club: Ship-Deck Soccer
Having a Ball at Sea.
By Clark Norton
In the spring of 2011, a girls’ soccer club in southern New Jersey called the Cape Express Bulldogs was casting about for a destination for a vacation soccer camp for its team of soon-to-be 14 year olds, many of whom had played together since age 9. Funded by yard sales, car washes, and other events, the trip would be a reward for years of hard work and a chance to test and refine the skills and teamwork they’d learned on the field.
“This was to be their swan song as a team, since they were heading off to different high schools, and we wanted it to be the best experience possible,” says Bulldogs’ assistant coach Leslie Gimeno, whose daughter, Kathryn, was a longtime player. Several alluring places were under consideration: Hawaii, Canada, San Diego, and Disney World among them.
Around the same time, Florida-based soccer aficionado Steve Everitt and his wife, Karen, a former golf pro, were looking to launch a new series of soccer-themed cruises that they called Soccer@Sea. The cruises would combine shipboard soccer training with games in port and, of course, all the usual pleasures of cruising. The Everitts got the idea while taking a course in cruise planning. During a ship tour two-and-a-half years ago, they saw a deck-top basketball court enclosed with netting that could potentially serve as a mini onboard soccer practice area. In that eureka moment, the Soccer@Sea concept was born, though not yet seaborne. “It was a brilliant idea,” Steve Everitt says in his thick native-British accent. “But it took us two years to get it going. We wanted to make sure everything was right before we put it out there.”
This is an excerpt only. To read this article in its entirety, pick up the current issue of Porthole Cruise Magazine.