You don’t need professional soccer to create a soccer hotbed. In Winston-Salem, a thriving college soccer program and an energetic youth program causes locals to proclaim their home as Soccer City, USA.North Carolina is a good area for soccer, and arguably Winston-Salem is the biggest soccer hotbed in the state. The Twin City Youth Soccer Association has over 3,000 boys and girls playing in 300 teams, with activity centered at BB&T Soccer Park, which features 13 playing fields (nine lit) and a a 5,800 square-foot fieldhouse.
Leading the way: the Wake Forest University soccer team, playing out of Spry Stadium. A soccer powerhouse, both the Wake Forest men’s and women’s teams are perpetual contender in the ACC soccer races, and the women’s team reached the College Cup in 2011. From Winston-Salem Monthly:
Many of those college players come from Wake Forest, one of the top teams in collegiate soccer. The Demon Deacons have won the ACC regular season title four times since 2002 and also won the 2007 National Championship. Along the way, the program has helped develop approximately 30 professional players.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Sam Cronin is one of those players. A Winston-Salem native and Mount Tabor graduate, Cronin remembers spending plenty of afternoons at W. Dennie Spry Soccer Stadium watching Wake games as a kid. He says he originally got into soccer thanks to his three older brothers.
“I just latched onto what they were doing and fell in love with the game,” says Cronin, who is now in his sixth MLS season. “Soccer was definitely well-established here when I was growing up, and we had good competition across the state.”
It’s long been predicted that by building a solid youth base, professional soccer can thrive. With pro soccer expanding on every level, that prediction finally seems to be coming true.