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'Mr. Soccer' helped plant seed for new Pa. fields

March 23, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Mention soccer around Waynesboro and Robert Stum's name is sure to come up.

Stum, 59, a retired Waynesboro teacher and coach, sat in his basement Tuesday afternoon watching a World Soccer match on his big screen television. Stacks of Soccer Journal and Soccer America magazines sat on the coffee table.

It was a good day. The night before, the youth soccer league he organized in 1973 got the preliminary OK to build a nine-field soccer complex on land the league is buying on Country Club Road.

He still coaches soccer in youth and adult leagues, occasionally plays, watches World Soccer games on television and attends major tournaments when he can.

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Stum brought soccer to Waynesboro Area Senior High School in 1963, a year after he came to Franklin County to teach and coach soccer at Quincy High School, which merged the next year with Washington Township High School into the newly built Waynesboro Area Senior High School.

Players on Quincy High's baseball and basketball teams were assimilated into the new Waynesboro High teams, but the school had no soccer team. Stum was asked to organize and coach one.

"It was exciting to start a team from the ground up." he said. "Thirty-four years later I retired as the school's only ever soccer coach."

He started playing the game at West Perry (Pa.) High School. "It was a small school. There were only 48 kids in my class," he said. Soccer was played in small, rural schools in Pennsylvania that weren't big enough to field football teams, he said.

He also played at West Chester (Pa.) State Teachers College and saw his team go on to win the NCAA title in 1962, the year he graduated.

In 1973, Stum organized the Waynesboro Youth Soccer Association Inc.

His wanted his son, Brian, then 8, to be able to play the sport he had loved all of his life. The league has about 400 players ages 6-18 and plays where it can find fields - at area schools and at the Pine Hill Recreation Area.

He's happy that the league will now have its own playing fields.

The Association, with the help of an anonymous donor, is buying 18.5 acres of flat farmland off Country Club Road from Richard Eigenbrode, a Washington Township Supervisor, at what Stum said is "a greatly reduced price."

"Richard is giving us a serious contribution with the price of this land," he said.

Stum said the association has never been big on fund-raising, but that will have to change now. He said members will be seeking donations to pay for the rest of the land and for development of the fields. The playing fields will vary in size to accommodate different age groups of players. The facility will be served by a 40-by-40-foot building housing restrooms, a kitchen and meeting rooms.

If fund-raising goes well, the fields could be ready for play as soon as next year, Stum said.

The association is still developing construction cost estimates.

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