As Hopkinton Youth Soccer prepares to kick off its season this Saturday, the organization faced an unexpected and concerning challenge after discovering that all of its nets and a goal frame were damaged by apparent vandalism last month.
Hopkinton Youth Soccer present Michelle Midkiff explained that the program’s equipment sustained about $8,000 in damage.
“I am not exactly sure when the damage occurred,” she said. “I was there for a small camp clinic on Aug. 3, and everything was fine. But on the (Aug. 6), one of our board members went to the field and noticed that all the nets were damaged.”
Pictures provided by Midkiff showed that nets were torn and shredded in places.
“I cried when I saw the damage,” she said. “Who would do this? It looked like someone ran over the nets with a lawnmower. It’s overwhelming, shocking — all of those things.”
What made the damage appear to be intentional, Midkiff added, was that one of the anchor weights that holds the goal in place also was broken.
“The weight is solid concrete and rebar,” she said, “so someone spent a lot of time and energy working to break it.”
Midkiff noted that the nonprofit filed a police report about the incident and that a detective continues to investigate the situation. Anyone with information about the damage can report it to the Hopkinton Police Department crime tip line at 508-497-9785.
Said Midkiff: “We are hoping that HPD will do their magic and find something on surveillance footage from the security camera that will point to who did this.”
She noted that all the equipment was purchased new last September and had to be replaced quickly so that the season could move forward as planned. Twelve nets were replaced at a cost of $200 each, and the 11-foot-by-11-foot goal frame cost $5,000. The anchor for the goal frame also had to be replaced, costing $600, and the corner flags had to be purchased to replace torn ones.
“Luckily, our distributor has a contact with the Kwik Goal soccer equipment company, so we could get what we needed,” she said. “But of course, there was the added expense of a rush order.”
The new equipment has been set up in preparation for opening day Saturday.
Said Midkiff: “The biggest question here is ‘Why?’
“We are just a small nonprofit,” she added, noting that all soccer participants are Hopkinton residents. “We leave our nets up year-round at the Fruit Street field so that everyone in the town can enjoy them because a lot of people really enjoy the sport. To treat our equipment with such disrespect is really hurtful.”
Hopkinton Youth Soccer didn’t have an insurance policy on the equipment.
“It wouldn’t have done much good,” she said, “because there was only a $200 deductible. We never expected anything like this to happen.”
Midkiff said the registration fees for the fall 2023 and spring 2024 seasons are “locked in,” so fees will not be impacted by the hit to Hopkinton Youth Soccer’s financial reserves. She will speak to the HYS board regarding the possibility of fundraising.
“Once I saw the damage, I had to quickly develop an action plan,” she said. “Right now, we just ate the expense.”
At this time, the Parks & Recreation Commission has been debating whether to raise registration fees in response to a change in School Department facility use fees that, as of Sept. 1, were scheduled to jump from $15 to $45 per hour. The commission had hoped that the department would be placed in a lower fee bracket so that the increase would not be as severe.
The youth soccer program has 110 teams and includes about 1,000 youngsters, Midkiff said.