CULLMAN - Saturday morning the Green Gators of the VIP AYSO Special Needs Soccer League fought the law, and this time, the law didn’t win as the Green Gators defeated the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) 11-2 in their second annual soccer game.
“It is a great event. It brings the Sheriff’s Department together with some young kids and young adults in the community and we just have fun playing soccer,” said Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry in a post-game interview.
The event has grown exponentially from last year. The first VIP League vs. CCSO game featured six officers. This year 12 officers volunteered their Saturday morning to put smiles on the faces of eight very special children and young adults. According to Gentry, last year the CCSO was asked to come out and play soccer with the kids and there was no hesitation in saying yes.
“We had a great turnout from the Sheriff’s Office. Everyone loves to come out and support the community and the sport,” said Gentry. “We just want to be here with them.”
The Green Gators got things going with a quick score from Stormi Brock to put the CCSO in a hole that they would never be able to climb out of. Just two short minutes after the first score, Thomas Norwood added a second goal to extend the Green Gator lead to 2-0. Determined to not be shut out, the CCSO scored midway through the first half making the score 2-1 in favor of the favorites, the Green Gators. Norwood quickly answered the opponent’s goal by burying a shot in the back of the net. This was quickly followed with another Green Gator goal to make the score 4-1. The Green Gators added two more goals before the half to have a comfortable 6-1 lead at the break.
Norwood and Brock showed why the crowd was there to see the awesomeness of the Green Gators when they added two lightning fast goals to open the second half to make it 8-1. The CCSO picked up a second goal but the Green Gators stayed firmly in control, adding goals by Louie Wright and others on their way to a 11-2 romping of the CCSO. Modest in defeat, the officers met their opponents at the midfield stripe for hugs and congratulations on a well-played, hard-fought victory and to wish them luck on the rest of their season.
The Green Gators are coached by Brandy Thomas and Janice Eddleman. Buddies that help the players on the field are Abbye Thomas, Addison Eddleman, Dakota Brunetti and Deanna Brunetti. Helpers are Deven Eddleman and Jasson Thomas.
The Green Gators roster includes Olivia (last name withheld), Noah Anderson, Thomas Norwood, Bud Smith, Lochlan Tuck, Stormi Brock, Louie Wright and one more (name withheld).
As a sports reporter, I cover many events on a daily, weekly and yearly basis but I must say that getting to cover this wonderful event felt more like a privilege than an assignment. To get to see these children and young adults play the game for the right reasons, love of the sport, was a humbling experience and one I will carry with me for a long time. If you have the chance, come out to Heritage Park on a Saturday and watch the Green Gators play…you will be glad you did.
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