MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- Finding a field to play on and serving all the diverse corners of Mount Vernon have been two main challenges facing the Spirit of Mount Vernon Soccer Club since its founding in 2007.
Ripton Cooke, Donovan Evans, Steve Lawrence and Curtis Walker co-founded the club as a non-profit organization when they put together an indoor soccer program at the Sports Underdome in the City of Mount Vernon.
Through their combined love of soccer and dedication to the youth of the Mount Vernon, the club has taught the values of hard work, commitment, teamwork and perseverance. Cooke became club president and the Spirit of Mount Vernon joined the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) with one team in 2009. “We were formed as Mount Vernon FC was folding. They catered to only the top players in the city,” Cooke said. “We instead wanted to serve all the players in Mount Vernon.” “Former East Hudson Youth Soccer League President Ken Gulmi was wonderful and remains wonderful to our players,” commented Cooke’s wife, Cheryl Lewis, who handles all communication with EHYSL. Sixty players –– mainly boys with a couple of girls scattered on the three boys teams –– currently wear the red, white and blue of the Spirit of Mount Vernon. Other kids in the city are registered with neighboring clubs who also play in the EHYSL and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) while other children and teens there play pick-up soccer only and are not on any formal teams.
And these players are starting to get noticed. When the Yorktown Knights, who compete in EHYSL Division 1, needed players to fill out their roster last summer as some of their regulars were on vacation, they appealed to Cooke for help.
So Nathan Cooke, Quinell Grant, Dondre Johnson, Drevarn Nembhard and Shamar Robinson played on the Knights last summer and acquitted themselves very well as the Knights were champs of two tournaments and finished second in a third tourney while outscoring their opponents 34 to 3. In Westchester, despite a new turf field debuting seemingly every month, the Spirit of Mount Vernon has experienced field issues throughout its brief history and sometimes had to play all its games as the away team.
Through Cooke's appointment as assistant coach of the boys varsity team at Mount Vernon High School, the soccer club has been able to secure the use of their grass field. But the club, and not the city or school district, maintains it by cutting the grass and lining the field. Cooke continues to volunteer his time as club president and head coach despite his family having moved to Wappingers Falls, 60 miles from Mount Vernon.
So it’s not surprising, given all these challenges, that the Spirit of Mount Vernon names its teams after storms. The Boys-Under-10 Tsunami, Boys-Under-14 Hurricanes and Boys-Under-19 Thunder are all playing in the EHYSL this spring. There was a girls team too but those players graduated from high school.
“We have a handful of girls right now in our program and we hope to have another girls team in the future, in part to strengthen the program at Mount Vernon High School,” Lewis added.
For more information or to register your child with the Spirit of Mount Vernon, contact Lewis at 914-548-6566.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.