It was a day of high spirits for soccer kids and parents, as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Soccer Club kicked off its new season — the first "back-to-normal" season since 2019.
Kids were running around the pitch in the morning, as the Timbits teams did drills.
"It's controlled chaos," said club president Carrie Plaskett, as she helped parents find their fields.
The club has close to 100 Timbits (5 and under) players registered this year. In total, more than 350 kids from all over town signed up for the season in various age groups.
"They're Niagara-on-the-Lake, Virgil, St. Davids — these are all local kids that came out," Plaskett said.
"It's a lot of kids. Last year the structure was a little different, we just wanted to get the kids out playing, and then this year, the registration has been fantastic."
The soccer season was cancelled altogether in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while teams did hit the pitch last year, there were limitations on play.
Now, everything is back to normal.
The first day was more of a meet-and-greet after two years, Plaskett said.
"Everyone gets to come out, they meet their teams, they meet their coaches. And then there's soccer games that they get to play. The older kids will have more of like a competitive — fun competitive — game. And then the little ones are playing some fun games."
The vibe she's been getting from parents is that they are "very excited to be back on the field and to have their kids in organized sports."
"That's a lot of the feedback that I've been having. And they're out here and they're running around and they're with their friends. And they've got a whole summer in front of them, which is great."
Plaskett took over as president of the soccer club in November 2021, so this is her first season.
"Ted (VanderKaay) was our past-president, and he is still on the board and a big mentor and helping me," she said.
She also had high praise for all the volunteer coaches.
"We have a great group of volunteers. We have all volunteer coaches," she said.
Plaskett has twin boys, 11-year-old Henry and Malcolm Buffington, and says soccer was the first thing she signed them up for when they moved to NOTL.
"Our introduction to the community was through soccer. That's why I got involved because it was just a great way to meet the kids and to meet the families," she said.
It's nice to see so many kids out this year, she said. "We have a big community of young families."
Alex Froese was there watching his three-year-old son Lucas, Timbit number 14, on his first day of soccer.
"We've been practising in the backyard for a while now," Froese said.
"We had a great morning. He was excited. So getting him ready in the morning was easy. He jumps in the vehicle and here we are."