Generally, it's safe to schedule outdoor sports activities for the middle of May. At least, that's what the planners at Gitchi Gummi Soccer (Gitch) thought when they invited 30 teams from Thunder Bay and the surrounding area, ranging in ages from U-9 thru U-12, to join them in a two-day soccer festival in Duluth, May 18-19. The games were scheduled to be played on the turf field at the College of St. Scholastic (CSS).
But instead of a sunny, dry weekend, the weather on the first day was cold, windy & wet, followed up with 3 inches of snow on day 2. Under such conditions, soccer games for youth are known to be cancelled, but given concern for the time & expense of travel for the teams from Canada, the Gitch planners decided to try to bring their guests indoors at the EDHC.
Because of previous reservations, the EDHC didn't have enough time available to manage the full Saturday Gitch schedule, so the U-9s and U-10s got to play on the indoor turf, while the U-11s and U12s dealt with the elements at CSS. But Sunday brought on a new challenge ...snow....forcing all of the remaining games indoors. Fortunately, by changing the format so that the younger teams played a "half-turf games, the EDHC was able to accommodate the full Sunday schedule.
While successfully dealing with the weather issues, the Gitch folks had to deal with another issue...finances. They didn't want to take the same route followed by other soccer clubs and cancel the Festival but their fees were determined on the use of outdoor facilities. They needed 13 hours of indoor turf time which, at $90 per hr., would cost them more than the income for the Festival. A $500 grant from the Duluth Heritage Sports Center Foundation (DHSCF) Community Opportunity Fund helped ease the budget strain so they could minimize the loss associated with being good hosts.
The DHSCF Community Opportunity Fund was established to enable non-profit organizations to access the facilities of the EDHC for good cause. Helping to keep the Gitchi Gummi Soccer Club’s Festival from a last-minute weather cancellation and the resultant financial impact on those teams that traveled almost 200 miles one-way to play in that Festival, was deemed to be a worthy cause.