Monday, November 3, 2014

Hamilton Night at the RailHawks game

written by Chelsey Stark, CASL intern

Despite the November rain, wind and cold weather, almost 150 Hamilton Sportsmanship Award winners and their families came out to the RailHawks game to be recognized for their outstanding fall seasons as exemplary sportsmanship role models. Thanks to the generous corporate support of Dick's Sporting Goods and WakeMed Health and Hospitals, these players were treated to a special night at the Carolina RailHawks last home game of the season. 

Named in honor of Dr. Pat Hamilton, an advocate for the development of youth soccer in North Carolina, the Hamilton award is presented to an individual from each team who is a standout not only on the field, but off the field as well. CASL emphasizes the importance of growth and development of young adults, teaching sportsmanship traits needed to be successful in life, not just the game.
one winner proudly taking her picture
With hot chocolate in our arsenal, Hamilton Award winners, families and friends corralled around our tents to receive their certificates and gift bags while enjoying a cup of liquid warmth before the game. Dick's Sporting Goods was on hand to help congratulate the award winners with additional free giveaways. Each sportsmanship award winner also received a free ticket to that night's game. The CASL Tower was packed with sportsmanship award winners and their supportive coaches, teammates, friends, and family.
Cleats leading the parade of champions down the final stretch of applause and cheers!
Luckily, the weather held off for a much drier 90 minutes as the RailHawks took to the field. In a game where the RailHawks needed a victory against Minnesota to advance to the post-season NASL Championship, the excitement of the game was at an all-time high, along with attendance. The first half closed with a 1-0 RailHawks lead.

At half, Hamilton winners lined up to start their parade around the stadium to high-five and wave to the large crowd. Cleats, CASL's mascot, was on hand to lead the parade of award winners. Many of them could look up to the videoboard to see themselves recognized on the big screen for all to see. These athletes demonstrated tremendous character, leadership, integrity and respect toward their coaches and fellow teammates for the Fall season, qualities that deserve high recognition.

The line of athletes snaked back to the field exit, and it wasn’t too much longer before the game turned into a spooky day-after-Halloween phenomenon with a power outage and only the videoboard to shed light on the stadium, delaying the second half for 30 minutes.

The RailHawks finished their 2014 NASL regular season with a 2-2 tie, and to their fans dismay, unable to advance into contention for the NASL Soccer Bowl championship.

We would like to congratulate all CASL Hamilton Sportsmanship Award winners! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

End of Year Celebration at the RailHawks Game

The Challenge and Recreation teams closed their fall seasons this past Saturday with CASL friends, family and fun at the RailHawks game.

Players in the Fan Tunnel
Many players first had the opportunity to rev up the RailHawks in the fan tunnel before the game. Swoops – the Carolina RailHawks beloved mascot – also made an appearance on the field to mingle with the fan tunnel and get them ready for the player walk-out.

Kids were then dismissed to watch the chilly first half as the RailHawks took on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The game got off to a slow start, as neither team created any quality chances.

Half-time activity amped up the spectators as CASL athletes took to the pitch for a quick-paced and fun relay race around the field. Kids of all ages were jumbled into four teams of six and assigned a jersey color (red, white, orange or black) which acted as batons.

Each relay teammate was set up at either a corner flag or the half-field line for their baton pass until the last runner arrived back at the starting line. The red team edged out all other competitors in the last leg of the relay in a photo finish with the white team.

The race took all of two minutes, props to the CASL lightning-fast sprinters who showed up for the half-time fun.

Other teams who were there anxiously waited for their team picture to flash up on the big video board. As part of the celebration, teams were able to submit their team pictures to the RailHawks and be featured during the game!

The RailHawks and Strikers then reconvened to the field to finish off the game. The RailHawks went behind 0-1 mid-way through the second half, but answered with an amazing back-of-the-heel, trick-shot goal to tie it up 1-1 in the 82nd minute of play. With this result, the RailHawks remain in contention for a spot in the NASL playoffs.

Don't forget to get your $10 discounted CASL Tower tickets for the last Carolina RailHawks game of the season. Click here to buy your tickets! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#GrowTheGame - CASL Fall Fundraiser

Many of you may have heard, but this year's Fall Raffle Fundraiser is underway. Special thanks to BlackFinn Ameripub, Class Act Maid Services, Nick Cerullo of Merrill Lynch, and SkyZone Indoor trampoline Park, we've already kickstarted our fundraising efforts through sponsor support. 

Click HERE to purchase your tickets online.

In previous years, we executed a traditional paper ticket raffle. This year, we are catching up with the times and moving to an entirely secure online raffle ticket system. This process should make it easier for anyone to share the link and purchase tickets to help us reach our fundraising objectives:
  1. Increase CASL's Financial Aid program that distributes more than $50,000/year to qualifying players
  2. Improve the fields and facilities at WRAL Soccer Park and all of our other used fields in the area 
  3. Provide our 500 volunteer and seasonal coaches with resources and education to be successful 
  4. Grow the game of soccer through outreach programs targeting diverse, underserved populations
The raffle will be live through December 4th. Every ticket purchased will have the chance to win one of many amazing prizes, many of which were generously donated by community supporters. The grand prize winner will have the choice of three trips: Jamaica, New York, or Disney World. Others of you could win a $250 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card, Harris Teeter Gift Cards, gift cards, UNC Men's Basketball Tickets, a Sonicare Toothbrush, or even a Supreme Air Birthday Package from SkyZone. We keep adding prizes, so check our updated prize list back regularly. 

We are encouraging all Recreation, Challenge, CAYA, and Classic players to sell two tickets each. All ECNL players should strive to sell 5 tickets each, and Academy players should sell 10 tickets. 

Our goal is to raise $75,000 specifically to support the aforementioned areas of need. We launched the raffle about a week ago, and have started to make a dent in our fundraising goal. We still have a ways to go, but with your help, I believe we can achieve this goal. Please help us share the link or help us reach our goal by participating in this year's fundraiser.

We've already seen success stories of many of our players who have sent out the link to friends and family. Duncan Wegner, U14 Academy, sold more than 10 tickets in about 48 hours just by sending the link out. If you need any help, please reach out to me directly -  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Parents Night Out, Kids Night Donating

Parents and kids enjoyed separate entertainment before the Carolina RailHawks game this past Saturday night. Parents got to unwind in the party deck at WakeMed Soccer Park with complimentary wine and appetizers while the kids got their hands dirty with tie dye and community giving.

Pre-game festivities began when the parents dropped off their kids at the tie dye tent with members of the CASL staff (just call us your neighborhood babysitters!) before heading off to enjoy a relaxing hour among other parents and free accommodations. The kids took part in a messier evening of bright dyes and free pizza donated by CiCi's Pizza.

The most important element of the event, however, was a clothing drive to benefit Helping Hand Mission. Those who donated to the clothing drive were given a new CASL t-shirt to splatter with tie dye and take home. Thankfully, tie dye washes off both grass and hands, but the notion of supporting their community will stick with the kids as they grow. 

Helping Hand Mission provides relief and support to needy families, which often includes food and clothes. They receive reusable items from around Wake County in order to assist these families.  CASL’s event filled two boxes worth of clothing to donate to the organization. Thanks to everyone who came out and donated! 

After all of the pre-game festivities, many CASL players in attendance walked out with the RailHawks starters as they entered the field. The 22 CASL players proved to be good luck charms for the team, as the RailHawks defeated the league-leading San Antonio Scorpions 3-1, catapulting them to 4th place in league standings. Many CASL teams and families also took advantage of the $10 discounted tickets in the CASL Tower (like the U10 Challenge Boys Boca Juniors - pictured). 

Next Saturday, September 20, the RailHawks will take on the New York Cosmos. After the game, fans can enjoy free post-game FIREWORKS!! For information on CASL Tower tickets (sections 502-504) to the next RailHawks game, click here. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

U14 CASL Beau Soleil donates to Read and Feed

Cleats Visits U14 CASL Beau Soleil to Recognize their Volunteer Efforts

written by Cleats

On May 10, U14 CASL Challenge team Beau Soleil participated in a soccer clinic to benefit Read and Feed.  At the clinic, conducted by a CASL player completing a service award, Beau Soleil enhanced both their soccer skills and their knowledge on illiteracy. They were educated on illiteracy in America and its effects on society.  
U14 CASL Beau Soleil and Cleats
Read and Feed is a local organization aiming to fight illiteracy by traveling to schools and assisting young children, helping them learn to read and get better at it while having a snack.  Collections of books as well as small prizes are awarded to the children after each session, allowing them to practice their skills at home and encouraging improvement.  

Beau Soleil donated over 50 books and prizes to Read and Feed, demonstrating their care for the world around them as well as their knowledge of illiteracy in America. In reward for their dedication and service, Beau Soleil was rewarded by a visit from Cleats, CASL’s mascot. To learn more about read and feed, visit  

Monday, August 11, 2014

CASL 40th Anniversary: CASL Teams Host School Supply Drive

It's been a while since my last blog update. The month hiatus was primarily due to my personal life developments. I was married in July so was gone for a good chunk of the summer (if you see Eberhardt come across your email - it's from me!). However, now that I'm back in the swing of things, I'm looking forward to more frequent blog updates and informally sharing with you the happenings at CASL.

This year, CASL entered a landmark year. CASL officially turned 40 in March , and we've been celebrating all year long. Most of our celebrations have come in the form of soccer specific and soccer-related service activities. It has been our goal of this anniversary year to show how we are living our mission in everything that we do both on and off the field. In case you have never taken notice, here is our mission statement:

The mission of CASL is to provide positive and high-quality instructional and competitive youth soccer opportunities at all levels of play that enhance character, community and the love of the game for a diverse membership of children ages 4-18 and their families across Wake County and to serve as a community partner in improving the quality of life in Wake County. 

The 40th Anniversary efforts have focused on the latter half of our mission: " serve as a community partner in improving the quality of life in Wake County". We want to show that CASL and youth soccer in general can be a platform for awareness, change, or action. As an organization, CASL has hosted events like the CASL Play 4Kay 4v4, which was a 100% charitable soccer tournament to benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. With your help, we raised more than $14,000 to support their mission of ending cancer. We also hosted a food drive that generated more than 300 meals for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. We've hosted and participated in other events and community outreach efforts that have supported our community organizations including Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Ronald McDonald House of Durham, Haven House Services of NC, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and more. For a full list of our efforts, click here. 

'01 CASL Red Ladies

CASL Teams Donate School Supplies

U10G Black North CAYA
What makes us most proud, though, is our teams who take initiative on their own to make an impact in our community. This trickle down effect is powerful and will expand the reach that our youth soccer platform can have. Most recently, two of our teams, the U10G Black North CAYA team and the '01 CASL Red Ladies classic team hosted a team school supply drive to benefit Hope House Inc. located in Wake Forest. Each team spent time gathering and preparing school supply donations for Hope House. To help kickstart their collection efforts, CASL donated school folders and pencils to be distributed through the collection. We also wanted to recognize both teams for "making assists on and off the field" with 40th Anniversary CASL t-shirts.  Thanks to both teams for being role models in our community and for helping make a difference!

Monday, June 23, 2014

CASL heads to Ronald McDonald House of Durham

On Wednesday, CASL staff will join a few generous CASL families who signed up to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham (RMH-Durham). We will be baking brownies and cookies for the families who are staying at the house. It is our goal as an organization to live our mission and be a committed community partner.

If you don't know about the Ronald McDonald House network, here's some insights:
  • the Ronald McDonald House offers a comforting home away from home and a community of support for seriously ill children and their families
  • The RMH-Durham has been operating since 1980
  • RMH programs provide families with private bedrooms, community spaces, home-cooked meals and a stocked kitchen, a playroom, and a computer room and laundry facilities.
This is a timely opportunity for CASL considering a local McDonald's co-op is sponsoring CASL's Friendship Cup this weekend. McDonald's is a generous corporate community partner which is proven by their long history of support for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Team Becky: Walk like MADD
This volunteer effort is just one of the many efforts CASL is having in our community. Our 40th Anniversary motto is to "make assists both on and off the field." So far this year, we've made nearly 30 "assists" in our community through various efforts. Below is a list of many of the organizations we have helped in our community through promotion, activation at our facility, volunteer support, and fundraising: 
  • Inter-Faith Food Shuttle: BackPack Buddies Program and Grocery Bags for Seniors Program
  • Kay Yow Cancer Fund: Over $14,000 raised to support breast cancer research and programming
  • Haven House Services, Inc: FREE soccer clinics to youth in the programs
  • Susan G. Komen Foundation: CASL team and staff participated in the event to support breast cancer reserch
  • Walk like MADD: CASL supported TEAM BECKY, who was walking in honor of Becky DeNardis - a former CASL player tragically lost her life to a drink driver in March
  • H.A.N.D.S: 291 lbs of gently used soccer gear donated to Helping Haiti and Soccer
  • Jimmy V Foundation: CASL donated a gift/raffle basket for Red and White Soccer Classic hosted by NC State Students
  • Go Red for Women: CASL promoted and help make our membership aware of the risk for women and heart disease
  • Nessie Foundation: Through CASL's soccer community outreach, youth living in Parrish Manor community were given the opportunity to participate in free soccer clinics
  • Wake County Public School System: CASL hosted after-school clinics for students at Forestville Elementary, Brentwood Elementary, and Hodge Elementary - all schools who have high volume of youth on free and reduced lunch. 
  • WolfPack Backs Pinkerton Clinic: Through promotion and attendance, CASL supported the free clinic hosted by NCSU, which helped raise funds and support Ben Pinkerton, former CASL coach who is facing the toughest battle of his life against cancer
  • NC Museum of Life and Sciences: CASL staff meeting held off-site at the museum, which supported the Friends of the Museum
  • CASL Golf Tournament: raised funds to support CASL scholarships, community outreach, facility improvements, and coaching education/retention
  • Comfort Zone Camps: two CASL players participated in the Beach to Battleship half-marathon in support of Comfort Zone Camps, which is a bereavement camp for grieving children. CASL promoted the event and the camp
  • Boys and Girls Clubs: CASL's mascot, Cleats, added to the excitement at no charge for the spring Carnival at the Raleigh Boys and Girls Club
  • Agua Viva Orphanage: CASL provide soccer balls and equipment to a mission trip headed to Guatemala 
  • American Cancer Society CASL donated Davis Drive Park field space to a Relay for Life event to help raise funds and awareness for American Cancer Society
  • YMCA: Cleats passed out pencils and interacted with the kids during soccer week at the YMCA of the Triangle at no cost to the community non-profit organization
  • MiracleFeet: through on-site activation, flyers to families, and social media, CASL has promoted and supported MiracleFeet's "socks" campaign, which supports club foot correction in underserved countries
  • Raleigh Parks and Recreation: CASL's soccer communtiy outreach programming offers free soccer programming to youth involved in community centers around Raleigh including Peach Road and Method Road
  • Special Needs Population: through HEART, CASL provides a free soccer program for youth with intellectual disabilities. The program has grown over the years and the players engage in 8 practices each season. This year, games were incorporated and three teams will be participating int the Friendship Cup
  • CASL Community Outreach at Raleigh
    Parks and Rec Facility
  • Friendship Cup: CASL's Friendship Cup is a free, single day tournament for youth from underserved communities to play soccer in a safe, inclusive environment (set for Saturday, June 28)
Thanks to everyone who has supported our 40th Anniversary campaign. We are halfway through the year and well on our way to exceed our goal of engaging in 40 unique efforts in our community. If you have ideas or opportunities for CASL to support a community effort or organization, please let us know by email