WINTERSVILLE - The Indian Creek boys soccer team is heading west and it only took about eight months to accomplish the goal.
The Redskins will take on Van Buren High School at 1 p.m. Sept. 1 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
"It was something I read on the Crew website and I thought it would be a great opportunity to play in a professional stadium on a professional field," said second-year Indian Creek coach Jonathan Hoover.
It's called the Elite Game Series and the Crew has a system set up for any high school in Ohio to have the opportunity to play on its field.
"The parents really have supported this right from the start," said Hoover, a 2002 graduate of Jefferson County Christian School. "The parents and players were told what we had to do and we started the process.
"We had to get the backing from the school for the initial deposit to secure our spot. The school backed us and then we had to go out and raise the money to play.
"We had to sell 225 tickets to the Crew game that night (7:30 p.m.) against the Montreal Impact. We had a couple of fundraisers to meet what we had to pay back. Tickets were purchased by players, parents and friends and family to meet our final bill, which we have accomplished.
"We had to have everything in order one month before we played and we were able to accomplish our task by about July 13.
"This was all done because of hard work by the players and the tremendous support of their parents."
This all started back in November. After a discussion with a representative of the Crew, Hoover brought the information to his players and their parents.
"The kids were excited about the opportunity," remarked the coach, who also said they still have tickets to sell if anyone is interested. "When we explained to their what they had to do to achieve this goal, every one of them said they would do what it took to get there and every one of them has lived up to their word. They promised me they would work hard and sell tickets and they have lived up to their end of the bargain.
"This has been a really long process, but I really believe it's going to be well worth it.
"I just thought this would be a fun opportunity for our players. For our seniors, this trip to Columbus to play is going to make their senior year more memorable. For the juniors and sophomores, it will give them a great talking point for their high school careers, saying they were able to go down and play on that field.
"I really would like to do this again later down the line. Maybe this will give our freshmen something to shoot for to achieve."
In talking with the Crew representatives, Hoover believes the Redskins are the first team from the area to take advantage of this opportunity.
"The Crew said they really don't know of anyone from this area who has done this and they like it because they are getting exposure to a different part of the state," he said.
"I think this looks like a great team-bonding event. When you go to a Steelers game or a Pirates game and think 'how cool would it be to play on this field.' When our kids watch a major league soccer game on television and think that - they actually get to do it."