When players take the field for the Keith Schwab Kick-Off Classic on Aug. 23, they will be doing so in honor of a seminal figure in youth sports.
“He was one of those larger-than-life people,” tournament Director Lisa Hurly said. “He was so involved in youth soccer and basketball and whatever else was going on in Haddonfield. He just really cared about doing something good for the kids in the borough.”
Schwab died of a heart attack in 2013. As president of the Haddonfield Soccer Club and a coach of several teams, he left behind a legacy that has continued on after his death.
“There are a lot of things Keith did that no other coaches would do,” Hurly said. “He used to write each player on his team a letter at the end of the season to thank them for playing and congratulate them on the season. Those are the kinds of things that made him so loved by the community.”
Schwab founded the tournament, so when he died, there was some confusion as to whether the tournament would continue. Hurly knew how much the tournament meant to him and was determined to keep it alive.
“He always loved this tournament,” Hurly said. “He made sure the tournament was different than all the others, and we’ve tried to maintain that.”
Unlike most soccer tournaments that are spread out over a weekend, the Keith Schwab Kick-Off Classic is a one-day tournament. There are no winners, and every team is guaranteed the same number of games.
“Keith was big on fun, so when you take the winning aspect away, it allows the kids to just play,” Hurly said. “The tournament is easy for parents and kids, who won’t need to spend a lot of money on hotels and travelling expenses because it’s only one day and the teams know when they’re playing.”
The tournament will also feature some training sessions and face painters to entertain the kids while they’re not playing.
“This tournament is about more than just soccer,” Hurly said. “It is a celebration of Keith’s life and a start to a new beginning each year.”
That isn’t all the HSC has planned for the 2014 season, though. The organization will also host Kidzfest on Sept. 21.
“Kidzfest is in its eighth year,” Hurly said. “It is an event we do in honor of my son Stephen, who passed away at five weeks from complications from premature birth and heart disease.”
The event has already raised more than $200,000 for charity and looks to continue to raise money. The event will feature sports, crafts and a carnival for kids.
“This is another great community event,” Hurly said. “It’s not as much about soccer as some of our other events, but it’s a chance for kids to come out and play soccer and help a good cause at the same time.”
For more information about Haddonfield Soccer Club, visit www.haddonfieldsoccer.org.