Shallenberger SportsPlex, new home of Connellsville Soccer Club, opens in Bullskin

| Monday, April 8, 2013, 8:12 a.m.

Connellsville Soccer Club board members, players and area dignitaries came together Saturday for the dedication ceremony of the Shallenberger SportsPlex, which is the new home of the soccer club.

The soccer club purchased 114 acres of land off Breakneck Road in Bullskin Township in 2003 with the vision of one day calling it home to the organization.

Ten years later, that dream was realized with nearly 500 players participating in soccer games throughout Saturday on brand new fields constructed by Terry Shallenberger's crew.

“This definitely exceeds our expectations,” said Brian Cartwright, secretary of the soccer club's board of directors.

Shallenberger, who donated his time and work crew, said his son participates in the soccer club and he wanted to do what he could to help them build a home.

“My son plays soccer and we travel to different fields and everyone has such nice fields,” he said. “Our kids deserve to have nice fields, too.”

After about a year of groundwork, grading, leveling and building, the initial phase to have the complex opened in time for this year's soccer season was completed.

State Sen. Richard Kasunic said he thinks the new complex is not only great for the community, but also the entire region, since there are children from both Westmoreland and Fayette counties who participate in the club.

“As I look around at the effort that went into this, I tip my hat to Tuffy (Terry) Shallenberger,” he said. “He and his crew did a great job. This place is something special.”

Soccer Club President Dave Panzella said the complex is always going to be mainly for soccer, but there is room to expand one day, to maybe include fields for baseball and even football.

“The Connellsville Soccer Club has accomplished a lot over the last few years and we look forward to continued success as we continue to build at our new facility,” he said.

Along with several new soccer fields, the complex also has a sizeable playground and a concession stand.

The club hopes in the near future to add more lighting to the fields as well as an in-door facility.

“We're hoping one day to host a national event here,” Panzella said.

Bullskin Supervisor Deb Wiltrout said they are really proud to have this facility in the township.

“It's beautiful and they're not done yet,” he said. “This is going to be a beautiful asset to the township and our young people are going to have a place to come to for a long, long time.”

State Rep. Deberah Kula said she is happy the club finally has a permanent home.

“I can only imagine the things that will be happening very soon at this facility,” she said, adding that she attends many dedication ceremonies for facilities or things that have come about after some type of grant is obtained. “But in this instance, it was hard work and true love of the community shown by the Shallenberger family that brought this project to completion,” she said. “That's something you don't find very often.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said he has seen several sports facilities throughout the 15 counties in the 9th Congressional District, but the new Shallenberger SportsPlex is second to none.

“This is a great day for the community,” he said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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