SOCCER

Dyer Soccer Arena still kickin' going into 15th year in business

2013-09-30T17:00:00Z 2013-10-01T02:11:07Z Dyer Soccer Arena still kickin' going into 15th year in businessJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

DYER | Maybe it is location, location, location that has enabled the Dyer Indoor Soccer Arena to remain alive and kicking in its 15th year of business whereas other sheltered facilities in the area have been kicked to the curb.

But exactly where is this location?

"I guess technically we're in St. John but we have a Dyer mailing address," owner Mike Ward said. "This side of the road (101st Avenue) is St. John Township, but across the street is Center Township."

Hit a chip shot due west from the spot, and you'll be in Illinois.

"I say that's where we get 40 percent of business ... Illinois," Ward said. "Long before we decided to open this place up, for indoor soccer training we would have to go to Merrillville, or Dolton or way out in Frankfort, and they were always booked.

"That's when we got to thinking this would be a perfect place."

The former president of the Dyer Kickers youth organization, Ward — an avid tennis player since his teens — originally gravitated toward soccer by way of his son's, Mike Jr., and his daughter's, Amanda, participation.

"Once I got involved with them, I fell in love with the sport," Ward said.

In Ward's case, there's a lot to love. Not only has soccer provided a means for a long-time family business, but has helped save the family some money in regards to higher education.

"She's now going for her doctorate," Ward said of Amanda, who formerly earned a soccer scholarship to attend Loyola University, where she majored in psychology.

The arena's original field and building have for the most part remained the same. The additions around the building have been in flux.

First, there was the addition south of the building.

"We added that in 2003 ... it was a soccer equipment store," Ward said. "Problem was, many serious soccer players purchase their stuff online."

Now, the building houses Zumba Fitness classes as well as variety of other fitness classes and programs.

Another indoor field was added in 2005, indoor tennis courts were installed in 2007, and most recently, ABC Fastpitch Baseball and Softball Training Academy opened for business within the northern section of a now sprawling facility.

They just don't play soccer at Dyer Indoor Soccer Arena, which has hosted indoor softball games, indoor flag football, indoor paintless paintball, indoor rugby and Ultimate Frisbee.

Some of these ventures have run their course.

"Ultimate Frisbee leagues are likely coming back this winter," Mike Ward Jr. said of the game that resembles football with a Frisbee. "Just about any sport that can be played indoors has been played here."

Nonetheless, soccer will always be top dog.

"We're a little more training oriented than when we first started," Mike Sr. said. "Back then, we just signed up teams and gave them a field to play on.

"Now, we hold more clinics and have a in-house program that helps introduce youths to soccer."

The arena is currently taking sign-ups for its fall and winter youth and adult leagues.

"Obvious, we do a lot of more business during the colder months," Ward said. "Summer is always going to be slow for places like this, but we still have been able to attract business. You've just got to be prepared for those stretches."

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