ELLERY - As parents huddled shoulder-to-shoulder under the large tents set up alongside each of the 10 fields at the Town of Ellery Park, they watched while their children, smiles upon each of their faces, reveled in the deluge of rain that fell upon them.
Kicking up mud and playing a sport they much enjoy, it didn't matter that the weather, for the first time in the eight-year run of the event, wasn't perfect - they were having a good time.
And that's what counts.
Caylee Shelters keeps her eye on the ball during an Under-14 girls game at the BAYSO 3-on-3 soccer tournament on Saturday. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"The rain didn't bother them at all," tournament director Lou Golando said, "They just thought it was fun."
He then added with a laugh, "I think it was the adults who had a little more of a problem with it."
Perhaps they did, but all of them stuck it out, and it was those parents and children, together with the countless volunteers, that helped to make the eighth annual BAYSO 3-on-3 Soccer Tournament yet another success.
"This wouldn't have happened without the parents, the sponsors, all the kids who participated and the volunteers - so many they can't all be named," Golando said. "I think overall it was a really good time for everybody."
A total of 68 teams, from the U-10 age group on through the U-17, took part in this year's edition, which was a number just shy of the most ever (last year 72 participated).
Of those 68 teams, many of the athletes were local and play youth soccer at one of the nearby leagues - BAYSO, FAYS, JAYS, FAST or SWSC - but there were others that made the trip from much further to compete in what is one of the few soccer tournaments of its kind in the area.
"I'm very pleased with the way things went," said Dave Saxton, who has been a volunteer referee since the tournament's inception. "We had a lot of good players from all over. Some came from places like Allegany, Fredonia and Salamanca, and we even had a team make the trip from Watertown, which I believe is the farthest anyone has ever come (to participate). Watertown is almost 300 miles away."
Saxton, for his part, was also impressed with the quality - both in athleticism and attitude - of the more than 270 players involved.
"The sportsmanship has just been fantastic," he said. "The kids have played well, kept the games clean and I haven't heard anything (negative) from the other referees. It's been great."
With opening games beginning at 8:30 a.m., things went off without a hitch until a few hours later, when the sky greyed, thunder clapped and the rain really began to fall. Action was halted for a half-hour due to thunder, but once that moment passed the games were quickly back on schedule and things went as planned.
"When you looked at the weather forecast (in the morning) you knew it was going to be a little bit of a gamble," Golando said, "but there was no way around it, and we had only about a 30- or 45-minute delay.
"In the end it all worked out."