by KATE EVANS
The long-awaited grand opening of the 9.92-acre Alex Rickli Memorial Soccer Complex took place last Saturday and was followed by the first Morgan County Soccer League games of the season at the complex’s four soccer fields.
Families, soccer league members, coaches, government and school officials, business and organization representatives and community members enjoyed sunny blue skies and temperatures in the 80s for the dedication event and games. Free refreshments were also provided.
Morgan County Parks and Recreation president Aaron Close, Morgan County School Board vice-president, estimated that more than 250 people were present for the dedication ceremony and that 500 to 600 people came through the soccer complex that day.
The soccer complex was named for Joy Alexandria “Alex” Rickli, a local student and soccer player, who was killed in June, 2010 when she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle to soccer training. Rickli’s family attended the event.
Morgan County Commission President Joel Tuttle welcomed the crowd and praised the beautiful facility. Tuttle dedicated the soccer complex to Rickli and to her family and said that Rickli is missed by so many people in the community. He paid tribute to the efforts to complete the complex and stressed that through the facility her memory lives on.
A father’s remembrance
Rickli’s father Bruce Rickli shared his memories of his daughter with the crowd. Alex loved school, church, playing soccer, her teammates, her community and dance. The outpouring of love and support after her accident was incredible and the completion of the soccer facility is a testament to his daughter’s memory and to Morgan County working together to make it happen, Rickli said.
Rickli hoped that the facility would be a place for families to come and bond. He told parents to always make sure that their children knew they were loved because “you don’t know what life holds.”
County Commissioner Bob Ford was proud of all the hard work that had gone into finishing the soccer complex. Ford expressed deep appreciation for Aaron Close, who he said was the driving force behind getting the facility completed. Ford noted that team sports teach youth leadership and how to win and lose and the soccer complex was important for the community.
Close and Parks and Recreation board member Dawn Beal honored project partners with certificates of appreciation and presented ones that were present for the ceremony with gift bags. Close said many partners had gone above and beyond in their hard work on the complex.
Boy Scout Troop 12 raised the flag and the National Anthem was played. Commissioner Tuttle announced the teams that were playing, their coaches and referees. Teams were the U6 Sharks, the U6 Tigers, the U8 Vikings, the U8 Thunder, the U11 Minions, the U11 Lil’ Nightmares, the U15 Warriors and the U15 S.W.A.T. Alex Rickli’s brother Andrew Rickli kicked off the inaugural goal before the games began.
In her memory
“I was blessed to see the project through to its completion in order to give Morgan County youth a facility that they’ll enjoy for years to come. I’m grateful for the wonderful support of Morgan County citizens and businesses in addition to the Rickli family’s patience for allowing me the time to develop a facility worthy of Alexandria’s memory,” Aaron Close said on Monday.
The soccer complex was first constructed in 2008 but had remained closed to the public since April, 2010 after pieces from crushed vehicles began surfacing after it opened. The county commission transferred ownership of the soccer complex to the school board in 2012 so it could be eligible for a $200,000 brownfields clean-up grant.
An extensive site cleanup and soil remediation project was completed last summer and additional soccer fields, playground equipment and bio-retention ponds were added to the site.