Bach Honored For Contributions
By Adam Thompson
New Bern Sun Journal (1-26-2011)
Recreational soccer fields
were at a minimum around New Bern before Joe Bach arrived
At that time, youth soccer
teams had to share field time at the local high school with
the varsity team.
Bach, a lifetime soccer enthusiast,
saw 92 acres of land filled with corn and cotton.
Bach and some cohorts had
a plan to develop those 92 acres into what is now Creekside
Park on Old Airport Road in New Bern.
Bach, a vivacious 87-year
old, has made a clear impact in Craven County as a longtime
referee and contributor in youth soccer. He also was a board
member for the New Bern Area Soccer Association.
Last weekend in Greensboro,
Bach was honored by the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association
with the "Pioneer of the Game" award, which recognizes
"special contributions that a person makes to the growth
and development of soccer at many levels."
Havelock native Jim Hoffer,
who is a director and board member for the NCYSA, nominated
and presented the award to Bach.
Bach, who attended the gala
with his daughter Peggy and her husband Ed, his companion
Alice Barrington, and his friend Dick Klotz, were treated
to a weekend stay at the Sheraton Four Seasons in Greensboro,
along with dinners and banquets.
To cap it off, Bach was handed
a hefty trophy.
"It came as a surprise
and I am very grateful," Bach said.
Bach's biggest contribution
in Craven County was the development of Creekside Park.
In 1991, the retired U.S.
Army colonel started a committee with Tyler Harris and Taylor
Downey to plan out the Creekside Park project.
After the land was bought
by the county for $250,000, Bach called Maj. Gen.
Michael Ryan over at Cherry Point air station.
Ryan sent two engineering
squadrons to lay out the fields and infrastructure, as well
as work on the drainage, electricity and roads.
The final project was to
put up lights so that kids could play soccer in the evening.
Bach was in charge of raising the money, which included
seeing the naming rights of each soccer field.
The opening ceremony for
Creekside Park was in 1997.
"We've planted the seed
and it's sprouting," Bach said. "It's sprouted
tremendously. When we laid out Creekside Park, we thought
we had plenty of parking spaces. You go down there during
the spring and the fall and you can't find any parking spaces."
Bach, who fought in World
War II, has been involved with soccer for more than 60 years.
He was a member of the first men's varsity soccer team at
UNC-Chapel Hill in 1948.
In today's college athletics,
players must be recruited. It wasn't like that when Bach
played midfield for the Tar Heels.
"We were all World War
II guys," he said. "We needed some activity and
some athletic event. Instead of being a bunch of 18 year
olds, like it is for more colleges now, we were all from
22 to 24 years of age. It was a very mature soccer team
we had there."
From there, Bach moved to
Albany, NY where he continued to officiate soccer games.
He was a referee mainly for the youth to college level,
but he did ref one international game ‹ Trinidad and
Tobago against the Albany Capitals, a professional soccer
Bach moved back to Eastern
North Carolina in 1988 where he continues to officiate about
60 to 70 games a year from ages 12 to 16 over at Creekside
requires physical and athletic skills," Bach said.
"You have got to be able to run as fast as the team
you are officiating. It is very much a mental activity.
You make split-second decisions and they cannot be contracted.
You make a decision and you live with it. You obviously
have to know the rules and you have to be certified every
Bach said that most of the
kids playing at the high school level began playing over
at Creekside. One of his biggest delights is watching one
of those kids play in college.
"It's been a tremendous
development here and it's spread throughout Eastern North
Carolina," Bach said. "I've seen some of these
kids progress in their skill levels and go on to college."
Bach said he no longer officiates
high school games, but he continues to mentor the younger
"It's very exciting
to find someone that has the capabilities and try to help
them with the game," Bach said. "One big problem
we have here is that if we have a young guy, maybe he is
16 or 18, and he is out there officiating and his father
and mother and adults out there may or may not like his
calls are and they are berating him. We lose more referees
because of the parents on the sidelines."
as mentors have to reinforce them that they have the will
that they are totally in charge. If you don¹t like
them on the sidelines, get rid of them."