The global reach of soccer takes on a new meaning when you talk to Captain Rob Seabrook. Captain Seabrook is deployed in the Arabian Gulf on the USNS Tippecanoe, a fleet oiler providing logistics support to Coalition Combat forces afloat. A world away, Seabrook’s 12-year-old daughter, Jade, spent the Labor Day weekend playing soccer in the Mead/CUSA Cup Soccer Tournament in Centerville (Dayton), Ohio. This seemingly impassable chasm between father and daughter is being crossed, to a certain extent, with the help of an Englewood, Ohio company called Rivershark and its TourneyCentral Internet-based tournament production service.
TourneyCentral is an online service available to Soccer Tournament Directors worldwide. The five-year-old service provides schedules, directions, real-time scores, tournament photos and a message board called the Spirit Center. The 25th annual Mead/CUSA (Centerville United Soccer Association) Cup featured 293 premier level teams and is just one of 21 events currently being covered by this unique service. For this years tournament, www.cusasoccer.com has received 2.8 million hits, 378,945 page views and 42,511 total visitors and is still counting. Seabrook is one of the many visitors who have taken advantage of the Web site, sending messages to Jade in the Spirit Center, keeping track of the results and finding photos of his daughter in action.
Although Seabrook admits that nothing replaces being there, the ability to access information in real-time and immediately be able to communicate with fatherly advice and encouragement helps ease the strain of being separated from family. The morale lift is evident in the tone of his messages. In one he writes, “Our three main weapons are speed, surprise and a fanatical devotion to soccer … keep focused on your goal and nothing can stop you.” He ends all his messages with, “From the Arabian Gulf with Love.” He proudly points out that his daughter’s team, DSA Premiere, won the Gold Division title and Jade scored six of the team’s 18 goals.
Gerard McLean, the founder and president of Rivershark, the company who developed and operates TourneyCentral, says this is just one of many stories of how his service helps to bring people together with the same devotion to soccer. According to McLean , “Tournament Directors are finding this service is not only invaluable in promoting their tournaments, but also a powerful project management tool in helping to manage the mounds of logistical considerations that are inherent in running a big soccer event.”
McLean took a special interest in the story of the Seabrook family. He made sure that there were photos of Jade available for her father to look at. Rivershark staff photographer, Michael Blackwell took the pictures. The photographs that are posted on TourneyCentral are available for purchase, however, in the case of the Seabrooks, McLean made an exception. He sent Seabrook serveral photos at no charge saying that in this instance, “It is our honor to help.”
The Spirit Center is one of the most unique features of the site. It allows players, parents, family and fans an opportunity to post notes of support to their favorite team or player. In the case of a father who is serving his country half a world away, the Spirit Center is aptly named. “Both ways, from father to daughter, daughter to father,” says McLean, “This is what the Spirit Center is there for!”
For McLean, TouneyCentral started as an opportunity to combine his skills and interests into a burgeoning enterprise. However, the story of the Seabrook family offers greater dividends. “You hope that when you create something, it has a greater impact on people than just profit,” said McLean, “To see this play a big role in peoples lives is the real reward.”
Captain Rob Seabrook in the Arabian Gulf, and his daughter Jade in Dayton, Ohio couldn’t agree more.