By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, WAVERLY, COKATO, MN After winning three soccer challenge championships three weekends in a row, 9-year-old Sean Droneck can definitely say he gets a kick out of soccer.
“He’s very competitive,” both of Sean’s parents said. Sean’s mother, Sheila, lives in Cokato; while his father, Lon, resides in Waverly.
Sean’s first competition this year took place Sept. 13 at Southview Park in Winsted. The one-day challenge, organized by the Winsted Knights of Columbus, was open to boys and girls ages 9 through 14.
Sean got 115 points, the most in his age group. According to Lon, points are earned as players kick the soccer ball to a certain location in the net.
“If they make it in the lower corner, it’s 10 points; the upper corner is 20 points; and inside the diamond is five points,” Lon said, explaining that the “diamond” is an area in front of the net marked with a rope.
After his victory in Winsted, Sean advanced to regionals, which took place Sept. 20 in Hutchinson. He won first place in that competition as well, qualifying him for state at Mendota Heights.
Traveling to St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights the last weekend in September, Lon said Sean was “nervous the whole way there.”
It seems Sean had nothing to worry about, though, and he took home another victory for his age group scoring 175 points in 25 shots.
In addition to soccer, Sean also plays football and baseball, and neighbors often come by for pick-up games on the vacant lot behind Lon’s house in Waverly.
“I own a lawn service, so I mow the area,” Lon said, adding that he created goal posts out of PVC pipes, and in the past, he painted lines for a football field.
Of all the sports Sean plays, soccer is his favorite.
“I think that no matter what sport Sean does, he’ll be a good athlete,” said Ruben Duran, who coached Sean in a youth league in Winsted this fall.
Duran has been coaching soccer in Winsted for preschool through sixth grade for the past 10 years. Previously, he ran a soccer program in Delano.
“I’ve always enjoyed soccer,” Duran said, adding that he played in school, and was part of a men’s league.
Duran created his own youth program because there wasn’t a school-sponsored team for his children when they were young.
In Winsted, Duran normally coaches one five-week league each summer. This year, he did two leagues with about 60 kids participating in the spring, and 30 in the fall.
According to Winsted Knights of Columbus trustee Brian Anderson, Duran is a newer member of the Knights of Columbus. Duran’s excitement about soccer, combined with the recent World Cup tournament, prompted club members to conduct the recent challenge in Winsted.
“This is the first time we’ve done a soccer challenge locally, and we hope to continue it next year,” Anderson said, adding that he’d like to coordinate it with the Winsted Holding Activities That Unite People (WHAT UP) punt, pass, and kick event. “Soccer is obviously becoming more popular in the United States.”
The Knights of Columbus also promotes basketball, and will be sponsoring a youth free-throw contest in January.
Men ages 18 and older who are practicing Catholics are eligible to join the Knights of Columbus. In Winsted, the group has 300-plus members. For more information, contact membership director Pat Schommer at (320) 485-2810.