Thanks to efforts of volunteers, the generosity of Delta County businesses, and support from a Denver-based nonprofit, North Fork area soccer enthusiasts of all ages now have two soccer rebounder walls.
Josh Swanson of Windsor established the nonprofit Goals for Glory in 2014 with a goal of building rebounder walls in communities throughout the country. The 24-foot-long, eight-foot tall plywood walls give young soccer players an opportunity to increase their number of touches, practice goal shots, work on passing, footwork, speed and accuracy, goal keeping and other skills, all without a net, or even another player. They're also a way to bring families and communities together, said Swanson.
Swanson also said he hopes to see U.S. soccer teams be more competitive on a global scale and win the World Cup.
"This is the first time we can practice by ourselves," said Jose Pantoja, a Paonia sophomore and Delta High School Panthers soccer player. Pantoja, who grew up playing the game, said he hopes his teammates will use the walls to improve their skills, which could translate to improving the Panthers' playoff seasons.
The two walls are the first ones built by GFG on the Western Slope. Swanson originally planned to build one wall, at Paonia Junior-Senior High School, but after his June 13 arrival was able to secure the materials, labor, equipment and support to build a second wall at the Volunteer Park Sports Complex on Mathews Lane.
They weren't going to say no to a free rebounder wall, said Audrey Reedy, a youth soccer coach, parent and Volunteer Park volunteer.
Swanson said United Companies in Hotchkiss agreed to deliver an additional four cubic yards of concrete to the complex, and Mesa Rental and Supply in Delta, which donated a Bobcat and augur, took time out of their busy schedule to drill the additional post holes. "That saved us about $900," said Swanson.
Dependable Lumber in Paonia also gave a discount on the wood and materials, said Swanson. Other expenses are covered by the organization, which consist of a lot of small donors paying it forward, "$10 here, $20 there," said Swanson.
About a dozen adult volunteers showed up with their families to help build the first wall last Thursday evening at PJSHS. "This is the biggest group ever," said Swanson, adding that two or three people typically volunteer in the Denver area. While walls usually take two or three hours to build, the wall was up and being used in less than an hour.
"It's good to see how involved this little community is," he said.
For more information or to make a donation to the organization, visit www.goalsforglory.com.