Last year, Kevin Brown's Under14 Craig Youth Soccer team knew its competition well. That's because there was only one other team from Craig in the league and they faced each other every week.
The presence of two Hayden teams in the league kept them from playing each other every night.
This year, the growth of interest from children for the Craig Parks and Recreation soccer league is evident in the oldest age group.
Aided by the increase of the age group one year to Under 15, there are four teams in the league.
"I think it's great for the league," Brown said, after he hesitated to call last year's season a "league" because of lack of numbers. "This year, instead of playing one team six or seven times, the kids get to see one team maybe twice or three times."
The growth isn't just in the older-age division. Parks and Rec coordinator Pam Brethauer said the numbers are up for this year's league to 220 participants from around 200 last year.
"That number makes soccer the largest participated sport of any of our programs," she said. "Even if you added up softball, coach pitch and kid pitch, soccer would still have more."
Brown said he wasn't sure exactly what to attribute the numbers to but he had several ideas.
"I think one thing is the increased success of the high school programs," he said. "Success at the upper echelon may have stirred up a little interest."
Brown's team had three siblings of high school players on the roster and he said he knew of a number of younger siblings in the league. So some of the athletes are aware of the upper level of the sport in Craig.
The Woodbury Fields were full of teams Tuesday night with each team allowed half of a field to play on for practice. Thursday will mark the last practice for teams with games starting next Tuesday and Thursday.
Brown said he was excited for his team to get the season underway and was anxious see what level the league was at now that it had more teams.
"I have a mixture of kids new to the sport as well as, I guess you could call them veterans," he said. "But the dynamic has changed with more teams and I hope to see it grow."
The divisions are separated into U6, U8, U10 and U15 and when games start next week the two younger age groups will begin at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, with U8 also playing at the same time at the U10 teams at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The U10 and U15 games will kick off at
7:30 p.m. Tuesday.