Soccer unites families in the Heights

We pride ourselves on diversity in the Heights - and we have that - but we also need unity. Many times it's our kids who bring us together. And they often do it through their love of sports - like soccer. That's the beauty of our local travel soccer club, the Eastside Kickers, now becoming known as Heights United Soccer.

My 12 year-old son and 10 year-old daughter play on Eastside Kickers/Heights United teams. It's been a huge part of their lives for many years now. The players become close-knit teams over the years as many players remain on the same team season after season, often with the same devoted volunteer coaches. Heights kids and parents, who might never meet otherwise, find themselves becoming friends, as the club draws from public, private and parochial schools. I especially like this aspect of the club since my kids live in University Heights but go to the Montessori School at Holy Rosary in Little Italy. As any child in the CH-UH school district can try out, my son and daughter have made a whole new group of friends from all over the Heights.

The Story Behind Eastside Kickers

Eastside Kickers was formed in 1983 by coach Richard Dietrich assisted by Paul Eyre, whose son Brendan is now one of our coaches. One of the players on that start-up team was Sean Sullivan, now head soccer coach at Heights High and the boys director of coaching for Heights United teams. He is also footskills coach.

"I attribute many of my soccer successes to Coach Dietrich and Coach Eyre as well as my teammates. They instilled sportsmanship, fair yet intense play, and a drive to represent oneself and one's community with pride and dignity. They are lifelong soccer brothers to me", says Sullivan. "I make every effort to continue the tradition of dedication and commitment towards maintaining the competitive level of soccer in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights district. It is truly a gift to work with so many amazing children and their wonderful families."

Our families are blessed to have many other local players return to help the club including Scott Dennis, the girls director of coaching and head soccer coach for Beaumont High School. Scott was a standout player at Heights High and his father, Jim Dennis, was a coach in the early years of Eastside Kickers.

What is the Eastside Kickers/Heights United Soccer Club?

It's a parent-run, volunteer, not-for-profit organization. The club is dedicated to programs that teach the rules and skills of the game and promote youth participation in organized soccer. Players develop soccer skills, learn how to play as team members, and develop a passion for the game.

The club emphasizes player development over winning, measuring success in terms of individual and team improvement. ESK/HUSC teams are registered to play in the Ohio Amateur Soccer League (boys) and the Northern Ohio Girls Soccer League which are leagues consisting of travel soccer clubs located in the Cleveland area. Some community travel soccer teams that we play are Aurora, Bedford, Chagrin Falls, Eastlake, Mentor, Orange, Shaker Heights, South Euclid and many others.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 10:50 PM, 04.25.2008