Orange County Approves 37-Acre Purchase for Soccer Field Expansion

Orange County brings in an estimated $100,000 per year through the operation of the soccer pitches at the complex near Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland, according to officials. And that number could soon be on the rise.

Commissioners unanimously approved a proposal on Tuesday night to proceed with the purchase of 37 acres adjacent to the existing soccer complex in western Orange County.

“I think as a five-field complex we are a very desirable location, as a nine-field complex we’re going to be considerably more.” David Stancil, director of the Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation, told the commissioners this week.

Stancil said the popularity of the facility from local, national and even international visitors has been growing.

“We opened in 2009. In 2011, we had a total seasonal gate attendance of about 12,000 persons,” Stancil said. “We’re now up over 50,000.”

Stancil said that usage results in permitting and concession revenue totaling approximately $100,000 annually. Be he added the total economic boost to the area is much higher. Particularly with events like the College Soccer Showcase Series, which Stancil said the county has hosted in each of the last four years, as a showcase of high school soccer players to college coaches.

“Our visitor’s bureau calculated last year that the total economic impact of that event was $778,000,” Stancil said. “And that’s just for those two weekends.”

Stancil added the naming rights to the complex and concession stands have brought in additional revenue.

Commissioner Penny Rich said that in conjunction with this expansion, recruitment of a moderately-priced hotel to the immediate area needed to be a point of focus.

“We don’t have enough beds in this area,” Rich said. “And we’re sending folks to Alamance and Durham, and we would love to capture more of that business.”

Board chair Earl McKee said this expansion may be the cherry on top for prospective hotels.

“In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve got some interest from hotel chains – some fairly significant hotel chains,” McKee said. “I think this addition will possibly be the determining factor of more interest.”

Stancil said he also believed an event was very close to announcing its intention to come to the complex.

“We hope to be able to announce in the next week or so an informal activity of national significance that will be able to take place at the Center.”

The 37 acres is part of an 87-acre tract currently owned by S.L. Efland Heirs, LLC. The final purchase price is $740,000 – or $20,000 per acre – and $12,000 – $15,000 in “transaction costs” and is expected to be completed as of July 31.

Possible Link Between Artificial Turf and Cancer

The Federal Government is now investigating a possible link between lead in artificial turf fields and cancer.

Three government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency announced this week they will begin research into the recycled tire crumbs that layer artificial soccer fields.

The issue of artificial turf was spotlighted when it was used in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. It was the first World Cup to be played on turf.

Hampton Dellinger led a gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of international women soccer players against soccer’s governing body, FIFA, and the Canadian Soccer Association.

The men’s World Cup has always been played on a grass field, which is the standard for high level international matches.

“People who know anything about soccer know that the most important games at the international level are played on grass,” said Dellinger.

Artificial turf fields became popular because of the low costs and ease of maintenance.

According to a report by USA Today, the EPA had advocated for the use of artificial turf since 1995. But they recently admitted in a statement that “more research needs to be done.”

The rubber crumbs are also popular as a playground surface.

While Dellinger’s lawsuit sought to protect the players from short-term injuries like skin infection, the long term risk could be much greater.

“I think it is long overdue and a great thing that federal agencies are going to take an in-depth and very scientific review of whether artificial turf surfaces are safe,” said Dellinger.

The real concern is for soccer players who spend years playing on the artificial turf.

“Children around the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, whether they are playing Rainbow soccer or some of the other great youth football, that is soccer leagues, are playing for years and that’s why there really needs to be intensive, scientific, rigorous studies on the safety or not of artificial turf,” said Dellinger.

According to the USA Today, there are over 11,000 artificial turf fields across the country.

UNC Women’s and Men’s Soccer Ranked No. 1 and 2 Respectively

The undefeated UNC women’s soccer team is now ranked number one in the country, in the latest NCAA poll that came out Tuesday.

Carolina knocked off Wake Forest for its latest victory on Sunday, 1-0. They take the field again hosting Boston College on Friday.

On the men’s side, the Tar Heels were ranked second, behind only Creighton.

After rain postponed the match from Friday, Carolina knocked off Duke last Saturday. Up next, the Tar Heels travel to Pittsburgh on Friday.

On the season, both the men and women have only one draw on the schedule otherwise filled with W’s.

Weekend Sports Roundup

While the UNC football team has to wait until Thursday to get its season started, several other Carolina teams were in action over the weekend.

On the soccer pitch, the Carolina women’s soccer team continued its impressive stretch to start the season with two more victories over the weekend. The Tar Heels knocked off the Texas Longhorns 2-0 on Friday night and followed that up with a 5-0 win against the University of Texas at San Antonio, on Sunday. UNC has now won its first four matches of the season by a combined score of 17-0.

Meanwhile, the men’s side got into the action for the first time over the weekend. Carolina won twice with victories over Florida International and Santa Clara, by a cumulative 4-0 score.

The North Carolina field hockey team got off to a very strong start to its season, winning twice by a score 2-1, against Michigan on Saturday afternoon followed by a victory over Iowa on Sunday as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge.

Finally, the UNC volleyball team picked up its first win of the 2015 season with a sweep of Chicago State on Saturday night in Carolina’s final match of the Women of Troy Baden Invitational. The Tar Heels lost to Southern California and BYU in its opening two matches at the tournament before coming into form against Chicago State.

And in high school football, in the game WCHL game of the week, East Chapel Hill knocked off Carrboro at Carrboro High 30-27; Chapel Hill beat South Granville 46-29; Orange High got a comeback victory over Northern Durham 20-13; Charlotte Latin beat Northwood 48-13; and Jordan Matthews got past Cedar Ridge 40-29.

Chansky’s Notebook: Abby Or No Abby?

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

Can the USA women score enough to beat potent Germany?

Despite only a 1-0 win over China, the U.S. women’s World Cup team looked far more aggressive than in its previous matches. But can that translate into more goals against high scoring Germany in the semifinals Tuesday night, a game that has great precedent.

This will be the fourth World Cup meeting between USA and Germany, none for the championship. But the winner in each case went on to win the World Cup, the USA in 1991 and 1999, Germany in 2003. This time the red, white and blue can’t rely on a fourth straight shutout from goalkeeper Hope Solo, who has been spectacular in Canada. They have to stay on the attack.

Will 35-year-old Abby Wambach, playing in her last World Cup, be on the field more than the last few minutes she played in the win over China? The all-time leading scorer in international soccer may no longer have the speed necessary to keep the pressure on from her forward spot. Still, can coach Jill Ellis keep her on the sideline for so long? It’s a gamble, for sure.

The 5′ 11″ Wambach says criticism of the offense is justified, and she points to the constant pressure her younger and faster mates put on against China as the key to finding the back of the net against the Germans. While the U.S. now has a record for holding opponents scoreless over 422 consecutive minutes, assuming that will continue for 2 more games is fool’s gold. With Alex Morgan rounding back into shape and Carli Lloyd as dangerous as any player in the World Cup, keeping up the 90-minutes of urgency applied to China is the key.

By opening the game on the sideline, Wambach has become a spiritual leader, pumping up her teammates with fury and an occasional four-letter word during warm-ups. And, in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, the face of same-sex marriage in this country going out with her first World Cup will cap a career that has made her an icon on and off the field.

But, when all is said and done, if it’s better for her not to start and come in to provide much needed inspiration in the second half of a close match, that’s what should happen. Speed is no longer her game, and this is no time for sentimentality.

UNC Women’s Soccer Finalizes New Recruiting Class

CHAPEL HILL – UNC’s Women’s soccer team finalized a 13-member recruiting class for the 2013 season. The 13 newcomers include 12 freshman class members and a transfer from the University of Georgia.

This year’s newcomers include:

Maggie Bill, a multi sport athlete from Huntington N.Y., ranked number four prospect in New York and number 84 talent in the country.  She will play for two defending NCAA championship teams in her freshman year as both a soccer and lacrosse player.

Joana Boyles, a Raleigh native, is a decorated club soccer player who earned a spot on the Under-17 and Under-18 National teams. Graduating from SandersonHigh School, Boyles didn’t play for the high school team, but focused on her club team CASL Chelsea Ladies.

Emily Bruder, another veteran of U.S youth national teams, competed in the 2012 Under-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan.  Playing for her high school team in Utah, Bruder lead the state in scoring three times and had several game winning goals in leading her team to state championships in 2009 and 2010.

Cameron Castleberry, another Raleigh player and member of CASL Chelsea Ladies, is an NSCAA Youth All-American.  Leading her team to multiple ECNL national championships, Chelsea was a recent call up to the U18 U.S team.

Jenny Chiu another addition to Carolina’s midfield hails from El Paso, Texas.  Holding citizenship for both the US and Mexico, Chiu played for both national teams. Qualifying for both U17 teams, Chiu led the Mexican U17 team to the 2012 World Cup in Azerbaijan.

Sara Ashley Firstenberg is another Texas native that is joining the Carolina family.  Firstenberg led her high school team in Dallas in goals all four years, with 36 alone her senior year.  Both a forward and midfielder, Firstenberg will be a another great addition to the Carolina team.

Darcy McFarlane joins her older sister, Kelly, a rising senior on the UNC team.  A two-time All-League selection, she earned multiple athletic honors at Branson and was president of the student body.

Amber Munerlyn ranked number six recruit by Top Drawer Soccer, is an excellent addition to the Carolina team.  Munerlyn started playing for the U17 national team in 2010 and scored the winning goal that took the US team to the 2012 World Cup in Azerbaijan. She was also awarded Gatorade State High School Player of the Year for the state of California.

Alexa Newfield was a late addition to the Carolina family after transferring from University of Georgia this year.  Newfield missed most of the 2012 season due to knee injury, but had previously broken the school record with 40 points in one season.  She was awarded All-Sec and first team All-South region for the Bulldogs.

Danae O’Halloran hails from Toms River, NJ where she was team captain of a squad ranked fourth nationally.  O’Halloran participated in track along with soccer, earning her schools MVP for track four years in a row.  She certainly brings talent to the UNC team.

Niki Romero, a multi faceted played from Las Vegas, NV; saw her earliest exposure to national teams in 2011 as a member of U15. In 2012 she jumped up to U18 national team and will continue to play for them in 2013.

Amada Rooney recruited from Hicksville, NY, has experience as team captain for several years while also making the New York ODP team six years. Rooney has been a youth national team pool player for two years and  a member of the Long Island Fury WPSL team since 15.

Maya Worth from Cary, NC finalizes the recruiting class for 2013 season.  She is the third member of the CASL Chelsea Ladies to be recruited to UNC this year, and a top track performer.  Worth holds six track records at GreenHopeHigh School and has played on ECNL national championship teams in 2011 and 2012.

These 13 new teammates will join the other 23 members including six seniors and five underclass starters from 2012. The season begins in late August with games against Santa Clara and VCU.

Kupchak's Living Legacy

Of all the quality kids who have come through the Carolina Basketball program over the last half century, none was any more real than Mitch Kupchak, the Tar Heels’ star center and ACC Player of the Year in 1976.
Kupchak faked nothing. He came from a blue collar background in the middle of Long Island, where wealth abounded to the north, south and east. He admired Dean Smith and entrusted the to-be Hall of Fame coach with his future as an underdeveloped basketball player.

Kupchak with Jerry West
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

As a freshman in 1973, Kupchak was lost and admitted it. Things got better as a sophomore starter during a second straight season when despite winning 47 games over two years Carolina remained overshadowed by N.C. State’s national championship team. Then the worm turned for Kupchak and the Tar Heels.
In 1975, junior Kupchak, sophomore Walter Davis and freshman Phil Ford led the Tar Heels back to the ACC Championship, defeating David Thompson and State in a taut title game in Greensboro. Kupchak shed tears of joy that night and, two weeks later, tears of heartbreak when Carolina lost in the Sweet Sixteen to an inferior Syracuse team.
Kupchak faced career-threatening back surgery in the off-season and remembered lying in the operating room ready to take a massive needle in his spine when Smith walked in wearing a hospital gown and mask. Smith placed his hand on Kupchak’s shoulder until his star center fell asleep.
Recovered from the surgery, Kupchak went on to a stellar senior season, leading UNC to an 11-1 record and first place in the ACC. But after being named the league’s best player, Kupchak’s college career ended with more heartbreak in ACC and NCAA tournament upset losses to Virginia and Alabama, respectively.
Kupchak (and three other Tar Heels) did earn a Gold Medal under Smith and Bill Guthridge at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
His teammates, coaches and great friends Kupchak made in Chapel Hill were ecstatic when the Washington Bullets picked him 13th in the 1976 NBA draft. He signed a huge contract for those days and immediately got tagged with the nickname of “Rich Kupchak” by his buddies.
Two years later, Mitch and Wes Unseld led the Bullets to the 1978 NBA title. How could life have turned out any better for the thoughtful, hard-working kid from New York, who always seemed wise beyond his years and remained quiet and conservative even in his new-found fame and fortune?
But, in truth, life was just beginning for Mitch Kupchak.
His four solid seasons in Washington led to a (then) massive long-term offer from the Lakers, urged by Magic Johnson who told team owner Jerry Buss that Kupchak was the missing piece to an NBA championship. Twenty-six games into his first season, Kupchak blew out his knee and would not play again until 1983. By then, “Big Game” James Worthy had come from Carolina to join the Lakers’ front court.
But Kupchak had made contingency plans by including in his contract a job working in the Laker’s organization when he was done playing.
While rehabbing his mangled knee, Kupchak began apprenticing Lakers legendary General Manager Jerry West and was soon to become his protégé. He retired in 1986, a year after winning another NBA Championship, and became West’s assistant. He also finished his MBA at UCLA, helping his readiness to run a pro franchise.
While working with West, and then taking over as GM in 2000, the team has won seven more of the Lakers’ 17 NBA titles by first trading for the rights to 17-year-old Kobe Bryant (originally drafted by Charlotte, of all places) and then Shaquille O’Neal. Kupchak has also survived some tough stretches that included six seasons without a championship and Bryant’s trial for alleged rape in Colorado.
Dozens of NBA stars and journeymen moving in and out of the Lakers organization, plus the two championship tenures of Coach Phil Jackson, have kept Kupchak in the headlines more than he wanted. Having failed to win the last two NBA titles, he was looking for a major re-haul this off-season.
After signing free agent point guard Steve Nash, Kupchak pulled off what even he called a “grand slam home run” by trading for center Dwight Howard and giving away relatively little to sign Superman. With an aging Bryant, all-star forward Pau Gasol and a deep bench that includes former UNC star Antawn Jamison, Howard and Nash have created Showtime II in Los Angeles.
At 58, with wife Claire and two teenage children, Mitch Kupchak’s one-time simpler life remains full and fulfilled but far from finished. Learning from Dean Smith and Jerry West will keep you going strong for a long time.
Soccer Triumph and Tragedy
Congratulations to UNC’s Heather O’Reilly and Tobin Heath for helping the U.S. Women’s soccer team to the Gold Medal in London, avenging a loss to Japan in the World Cup two years ago. It marked the USA team’s third straight Gold Medal, the third for O’Reilly and the second for Heath.
And our deepest condolences to the family, teammates and friends of former UNC men’s soccer captain Kirk Urso, who led Carolina to its only NCAA championship in 2011. Urso died suddenly this week in Columbus, Ohio, where he was playing professional soccer.

UNC Women's Soccer: NCAA Tourney Preview

Hampton Dellinger interviews famed UNC soccer alum Nikki Washington (a member of Carolina’s NCAA Championship Teams in 2006, 2008, and 2009) on the eve of the Tarheels’ opening round match against William & Mary. The game — which takes place Saturday, November 12th at UNC’s Fetzer Field — will likely be Carolina’s last home game of the season. The Heels, winners of 20 NCAA titles, are decided underdogs this year having dropped their last three games. Watch the Dellinger-Washington preview below and come cheer on the greatest college sports dynasty in America on Saturday.

UNC Greats Heath and O'Reilly, Plus Coach Dorrance, on 2011 Women's World Cup

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team is in the Triangle training for the 2011 World Cup which kicks off next month in Germany. Beyond the Headlines host Hampton Dellinger joined the team during its training session at Wake Med Soccer Complex in Cary. Former UNC greats Heather O’Reilly and Tobin Heath took time out to offer thoughts on the team’s Cup quest, and how their years at Carolina influences their play today. Maddy Kupinsky assists with the interview.


UNC coach Anson Dorrance, who guided the 1991 US Women’s team to a World Cup title, was also at the training and talked with Hampton about how the US Team and Carolina team stack up against their respective competitors.