On Labor Day weekend, Asheville hosted its tenth annual Beer City Cup.
The Beer City Cup is an adult soccer tournament held in Asheville every beginning in 2010. This year, there were 100 teams from 12 states across the U.S., with one team coming from the United Kingdom.
In its first year, the Beer City Cup hosted 21 teams from only three states. Co-Director David Turner helped run the tournament from the start and attributed a strong start and unique prizes to the tournament’s rapid growth.
“The quality of teams that came from the beginning was key. We had some of the better teams in South Carolina and North Carolina join us in open and over 30 especially and so the level was pretty high, so the teams that came to play, those better teams, were definitely challenged and usually beaten so it instilled in them they need to come back with a better team. The combination of mini beer fest at the finals and playing for something, playing for a cash prize, is pretty much the other component. There’s no tournament that offers those two and I don’t know that there’s any that offer either,” Turner said.
In this years Beer City Cup, a combined total of $12,475 was awarded to both winners and finalists in each division. There were a total of seven divisions. The champions of the Men’s division took home the biggest cash prize, a total of $ 2,500.
Although there are 100 teams that compete, Turner said the tournament could be bigger, but the lack of field space in Asheville prevents that.
“Asheville is limited on field space, the tournament is too, and it arguably could be bigger because we had more teams than 100 register, I think it was around 140 this year and 150 last year for 100 spots. So if we could take everybody it would be larger but we don’t have field space,” Turner said.
Turner co-directs the tournament with Eric Usher, he says the two form a great team.
“As far as logistics, you know website and registration, payment, newsletters, coordinating check-in and pretty much everything on that side of it I do. Eric handles the referees, the schedule and the posting of the schedule and the teams. I trust him and he trusts me completely,” Turner said.
Of the seven divisions competing, this year’s tournament had two teams from Asheville win their division, and one finalist from Asheville. According to Turner, local teams from Asheville consistently compete well against other teams from around the U.S.
“Asheville has always had good teams that have competed, and many of them have won. So teams coming from like 30 cities that are much bigger usually are like ‘Asheville can play.’ Other teams are always looking for strong other teams to play against and when you have them all in one place and every game is as exciting it really helps the tournament succeed,” Turner said.
Along with the players, local businesses were happy to participate in Beer City Cup as well. Two food trucks were in attendance at Memorial Stadium for the finals on Sunday, along with nine local breweries.
“With Asheville City Soccer Club being our main partners and now High-Wire taking over the presenting sponsorship for beer, everybody was supportive of soccer and the event. Buncombe County Special Olympics has been our servers for six or seven years and it works well for them and everybody that comes, who attends, seems to have a really good time. It’s a pretty intimate affair as far as how close you are to the action because people on the field, they’re right there feet away from the touch line. People want to be involved in that. Food trucks are interested and we’re excited to have them, and breweries,” Turner said.
Madhu Schmid, who helped volunteer for the Beer City Cup, said the tournament is beneficial for both Asheville’s soccer and the city as a whole.
“It’s huge for the soccer community because they get to be a part of it, whether they play or come and watch and hang out and socialize and have a couple beers. For the city of Asheville it’s huge. We are bringing in most of the teams from out of town. So hotels, food, they’re visiting our sites and putting Asheville on the map as far as a great place to visit and also for soccer,” Schmid said.
Along with volunteering, Schmid also helped with the tournament organizers.
“I have been in the background helping organize weeks, months ahead of time just kind of securing whatever we need to have ready. And then I work the whole weekend, just being field marshal, selling merchandise, whatever. In the first or second year I started as a volunteer and I just kept volunteering more and more and they were like ‘Hey come on board and help on this thing,’” the New York native said.
During the 10th annual Beer City Cup teams fought hard all around Asheville. Many people attended games throughout the weekend and, according to an estimate from David Turner, around 500 people were present at Memorial Stadium for the finals on Sunday. According to Schmid, this year’s tournament was a success, despite the continued closure of John B Lewis Soccer Complex, one of Asheville’s biggest sites for soccer fields.
“I think it went really well. It’s a little bit difficult right now because we only have two fields at JBL and that’s usually where the main tournament happens. Being spread out has really put a wrench in the whole thing. I think it went really well and people even last year, we didn’t have a JBL at all, so we were all over we had fields from Warren Wilson all the way to Hendersonville and people didn’t mind, they were just happy to come. They mark their calendars every year to come play in this tournament, it’s pretty awesome,” Schmid said.
Joe LaCasto, former UNCA Men’s Soccer Team player, competed in this year’s tournament for a team called Colortones. The Colortones won Beer City Cup’s Men’s open division.
“That was my first tournament with the Colortones. They are an adult league team that’s been around for a long time, that participates in different events, but this is actually my first time. Guy Campbell put the team together when he was playing in Beer City Cup and asked me and a few friends if we wanted to play so I jumped at the opportunity,” LaCasto said.
Colortones played six games in the tournament between Saturday and Sunday, winning the final in dramatic fashion, a penalty shootout. According to LaCosta, there was quality competition.
“The tournament was pretty competitive, I would say, especially when you go onto the later rounds. Saturday was the group play and I was told our group was the hardest but I had no knowledge of any of the other teams, so for me it was playing each game and reading the teams. I think the competition overall was pretty high, there was a lot of teams from other states. I think the competition was pretty well from my perspective,” the California native said.
Like Madhu Schmid, LaCasto said the Beer City Cup has a positive impact for the city of Asheville.
“I think it’s very positive for Asheville because teams come from all over the country, different states and a few international teams so I think not only does Asheville have a chance to show off their soccer and their facilities and some of the craft brews but it gets people coming to Asheville to visit and it’s been going on for so long that people obviously want to come back because they see what a beautiful place Asheville is,” said the UNCA Alumnus.