Large group of soccer enthusiasts get together to play

Published 12:02 am Monday, July 18, 2011

NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams Recreation Commission Chairman Tate Hobdy has been doing soccer Sundays ever since he was in seventh or eighth grade, he said.

“That’s probably been about 17 years,” Hobdy said. “It’s been pretty consistent.”

Michael Kerekes | The Natchez Democrat — Tate Hobdy, left, tries to defend the ball as Cory Adams dribbles during a pickup soccer game at Morgantown Elementary School July 10. The group plays soccer at the school every Sunday except holidays.

Hobdy is part of a large group of people that make their way out to Morgantown Elementary School every Sunday except for holidays to play pickup soccer. It’s a group that was formed several decades ago but still has a consistent core that has stayed involved, Hobdy said.

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“I started playing with (Cathedral boys soccer coach) Dennis Hogue and Pete Rinaldi,” Hobdy said.

“People have kind of come and gone, but we get a lot of high school players and even some who have graduated to play with us. It’s usually a pretty good crowd.”

And the games are almost always about just having fun, Hobdy said.

“It’s very informal,” he said. “We kind of keep score, and we used to not keep it at all. We’ve been coming out here a long time. Every Sunday, there’s always someone here. Sometimes we’ll have six-on-six, other times 11-on-11. It’s a good group.”

Hogue said he and several other people came up with the idea.

“I can’t remember how the conversation came about, but one of us pitched the idea, and we said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Hogue said.

“We started playing at Margaret Martin Junior High, and eventually ended up here. It’s just something that grew the more people got to hear about it. We still have the same core group, and we’ve had some fantastic players come and go.”

Hogue said the group is open to anyone that loves to play soccer.

“It perpetually maintains itself,” Hogue said. “We also do some of the maintenance. We’ve come out and cut the grass, and we’ll swap up duties doing that. We’ll also pass around a hat to put a buck in for the gas.”

In addition to adults, the group also has a fair number of high school athletes that come out and play. Natchez High senior Cortez Ford, 18, said he started coming out as soon as he wanted to pick up soccer as a sport. Ford said he’s primarily a keeper.

“I told one of my homeboys, Clarence Hayes, that I wanted to play a sport, and he told me to try soccer,” Ford said. “I came out here and couldn’t do anything with the footwork, so they stuck me in the goal, and I’ve been playing ever since.”

Ford said the Sunday pickup group has helped him improve his game a lot since he started playing with them.

“You’re not playing against kids your age, you’re going against guys who are 30, 40 or 50,” Ford said.

“They know the game and have the experience, so they’ll help you when you’re doing something wrong. It’s kind of like coaching.”