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East County Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 10 years ago

Just for Kicks

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Eight-year-old Brett Thoma didn’t want to be anywhere else.

With his yellow practice jersey flapping in the wind, Brett juked past a pair of defenders and charged toward the goal. Scoring goals is nothing new for Brett; after all, he’s played soccer since he was 4. But this fall, Brett’s goals will mean something.

Earlier this month, Brett began playing his first season of competitive soccer with the Braden River Soccer Club’s U9 Rage, following in the footsteps of his older brother Kyle, 11.

Having played recreational soccer for Braden River for the past four years, Brett was ready to secure his new maroon Rage uniform.

“I like playing for the Braden River Soccer Club,” he said. “It’s awesome because the fans are always cheering for you. The players are going to be a lot better (though), so I’m going to have to practice a lot more.”

Braden River kicked of its 12th year with the start of league play for its competitive senior (U15-U18) season Aug. 15. The team will play every Saturday for the next eight weeks before taking a break for the high school soccer season.

“At a competitive level, we’re one of the strongest clubs in the Tampa Bay area,” Braden River Soccer Club President Brenden Moriarty said. “Our kids travel across the country and play in a variety of tournaments. Ultimately we would like to be able to have some of our kids play for the U.S. National team.”

Lakewood Ranch High senior defender Tre Flagg is one of many local high school players who spend the offseason playing for the Rage. Flagg joined the club five years ago after moving to Florida from Baltimore. Since then, Flagg has used the additional training to help advance his game and further prepare him to play at the high school and possibly even the collegiate level.

“This was the best club that I saw, and it just felt right for me,” said Flagg who plays for the Rage’s U18 competitive soccer team. “The people here and the players … they’re all nice to everyone. They’re very supportive of the teams that are here, and the coaches are really good.”

Following the start of the senior competitive season will be the start of the club’s recreational league Sept. 26. Registration for Braden River’s ongoing fall recreational league will be from 1-3 p.m., Aug. 29, in the clubhouse located behind Lakewood Ranch High School at Lakewood Ranch Park. Registration costs vary from $95 to $105 depending on the specific age group.

Finally, the club will begin its TOPSoccer progeam in early October and kick off its competitive junior (U9-U14) season Oct. 24.

Founded in 1997, the Braden River Soccer Club, open to all boys and girls ages 4-19, serves more than 1,300 families throughout its recreational, competitive and TOPSoccer programs.

“We’re a community-based organization,” Moriarty said. “We (strive to) provide a safe, fun and social environment for the youth of this community.”

Braden River is the only club in the area that offers TOPSoccer. The program is primarily for kids and young adults with mild to severe developmental disabilities. Every player on the TOPSoccer team has a personal buddy for the day, allowing the Rage’s remaining players to learn valuable life lessons. The program was started three years ago by former board member Dave Robinson. Since then, the league has only continued to grow with more than 40 participants now calling the league home.

“It’s the most rewarding thing they’ve ever done,” Moriarty said of the buddy program. “They get to experience the volunteering aspect of life, and the majority of them find it very rewarding.”

For more information on the Braden River Soccer Club visit its Web site at

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

WHEN: 1-3 p.m., Aug. 29
WHERE: The clubhouse located behind Lakewood Ranch High School, 5500 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.
COST: $95 to $105 depending on specific age group
CONTACT: President Brenden Moriarty, 752-0629, or [email protected]

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