Field of dreams

Soccer club gets new turf at sports complex named for lost player


Area youth soccer clubs were just getting started in the ‘70s when at the end of the decade, teenagers Billy Carr and Tim Beck spent a spring evening at South Jersey Select team tryouts on Palmyra’s Charles Street School field.

“As all soccer enthusiasts do, we hung out and kicked the ball around, watching and learning from the older players at the U15/16 tryouts,” recalled Beck, who went on to become a top goalie. “Although it was getting late, there was still daylight, and I remember that there were baseball and softball games going on at the same time.”

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All of a sudden, a quick moving thunderstorm blanketed the field and lightning struck.

“The last thing I remember is going to get our sneakers to change into them,” Beck said. “I woke up in an ambulance, then again in the hospital. I did not know what had happened until days later. It turned out Billy and I had been struck by lightning. Billy was killed.

“At the time, our club was still in its infancy, and its founders and coaches came together with the town of Palmyra to hold a fundraiser to keep Billy’s name and his personality alive in years to come,” added Beck, past president of the Palmyra Riverton Soccer Club.

The club went on to create the Billy Carr Memorial Scholarship Award, which grants four annual scholarships to Palmyra High School students, a male and female from Palmyra and a male and female from Riverton.

The soccer pitch at the Palmyra Legion sports complex is called the Billy Carr Memorial Field, and summer installation of a new turf there is expected to finish by Sept. 10 for the upcoming season.

“All of the players and coaches we’ve talked to who will be playing on Billy Carr Memorial Field this fall are really excited for the work to be completed,” noted club President Jeff Elliot Sr., who added that the facility will also get newly painted field lines.

“They can’t wait to get onto the new turf for games and practices,” he added. “We’re really looking forward to having the first games there next month.” 

The Carr field project became a reality after Palmyra officials invited members of the town’s youth sports clubs to a meeting to discuss the maintenance of the turf and a timetable for the repairs. Funding for the new turf was then approved.

“The Palmyra Riverton Soccer Club has continued to grow since its inception,” observed Elliot,  who became a club volunteer in 2002. “ … We’ve expanded much since then. Over the past seasonal year, we welcomed around 400 players from a dozen towns to find a home to play soccer within the club.

“This year, we’re on course to have even more players involved,” he added. “Our organization is run entirely by volunteers, and we are fortunate to have such a fantastic group of volunteers who go above and beyond each year in the interests of our children and our community.”

Beck noted that before he died, Carr “was an inspiring eighth grade soccer player who was looking forward to … going into Palmyra High School.”

Carr’s legacy lives on through the memorial scholarship and the soccer pitch that bears his name.

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