By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 25, 2017-This is an article about a youth soccer complex and the story begins way back in 1932. That year, Karl Ehmer opened his first butcher shop on 46th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. In the mid-1940’s, Ehmer opened a manufacturing facility in Ridgewood, Queens, from where he served six retail locations. Although Ehmer still has its own stores, his sausages, hams, other meats and specialty foods are also sold today in supermarkets in the Northeast as well as Florida.
He was the owner of a large beef cattle farm near a house he owned in the Town of LaGrange in Dutchess County. In 1994, he sold the property to a developer and the deal was approved by the town after a portion of the land was donated to them for recreational use. So Stringham Park, ironically with the word “ham” in it, was created just south of Stringham Road and east of Ehmer Drive. The name Stringham comes from a family with long-standing ties to the community. West of Stringham Park, luxury homes were built.
Up until that point, the LaGrange Soccer Club of the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) shared two fields on Noxon Road with Little League so it was very nice for soccer to have a home of its own. In 1998, Stringham Park opened with one field but as soccer grew, so did the use of the park.
“Stringham Park is the best use of cooperation I know of between a sports league and town, at no additional cost to the town,” stated Jeff Feldman, who has served on the LaGrange Soccer Club Board of Directors for over two decades. His more than 10 years as club president includes when the club started using Stringham Park.
The LaGrange Soccer Club received two grants totaling $42,000 from the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The first grant, for $25,000 in 1997, was used to put up a building housing the concession stand, picnic area, bathrooms and lawn mowing equipment. The second grant, for $17,000 in 1999, put in the first part of irrigation system––pump, initial piping and wiring for the first phase. The money generated from the concession stand funded the expansion of the irrigation system to the entire complex as new fields were developed. Today, 14 soccer fields are spread throughout the 71 acres of the park.
As Stringham Park is one of the best maintained soccer complexes in New York State, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) hosted the finals of its three major events––State Open Cup, Arch Cup, Eastern New York Premier League––there last month, giving a nice little kick to the Dutchess County economy when considering the people from outside the local area coming and buying gas, eating at restaurants plus staying at hotels in nearby Fishkill. Eastern New York has hosted our State Open Cup finals at Stringham Park for the past decade.
Today under the direction of club president Jeff Cross, nearly 1,000 players, equally divided between boys and girls, are registered with the LaGrange Soccer Club. The club also has an active TOPSoccer Program of 30 kids with special needs.
Stringham Park also now includes two basketball courts, lacrosse fields, a baseball field, a walking trail and playground. Lacrosse, in the south of the complex, will soon be moved to its own facility being constructed in LaGrange.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log onto http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.