Meet one of the Rising Companies in Sports: Elite Tournaments

On any given spring weekend you can head to one of the numerous fields across the state of and see one of the many soccer tournaments that brings athletes Elite Tournamentsfrom all over the United States to Maryland. Maryland hosts some of the biggest and best soccer tournaments in the country. Behind these tournaments is a great company, Elite Tournaments. Over the past 14 years Elite Tournaments has put on countless quality soccer tournaments and have become one of the premier tournament management companies in the country.

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2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals- M&T Bank Stadium

With over 70,000 fans (mostly donned in El Salvador and Honduras blue) making their way into M&T Bank Stadium on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon, the hanging rain clouds looking to damper the two upcoming soccer matches didn’t stand a chance. For the unsuspecting soccer fan, the heavily favored United States Men’s National Team looked like they were playing a road game, with a few specs of red jerseys being seen in the crowd.  It was obvious that El Salvador and Honduras were the home favorites over the United States and Costa Rica.

The United States ultimately won their contest, with Honduras winning the later match.

The grass field at M&T Bank Stadium looked beautiful. The Ravens Grounds crew had been cultivating and watering the field for almost a week prior to the match to make sure that the field was in prime condition for the Gold Cup.  Never mind the field or game though- I think the most exciting experience to me was before the game! On my way into the stadium I saw thousands of fans wearing the jerseys of their team, waving the flag of their nation, chanting countless pre-game war songs and enjoying pre-game rituals that many of us enjoy before attending a game. The atmosphere was electric and the smell of food being grilled were something to experience in itself.

Baltimore and M&T Bank Stadium were one of six new venues chosen to host the CONCACAF Gold Cup this year and its staff and fans did not disappoint. Not only did Baltimore prove to be an excellent location for the Gold Cup Quarterfinals, but the atmosphere surrounding M&T Bank Stadium made the fan experience one to remember.

Ethiopians gather in Maryland for weeklong soccer celebration

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Ethiopians traveled from around the country

If you have attended a football or basketball game at the University of Maryland, then you’re probably familiar with Testudo dancing down the sidelines and Terrapins fans wearing red or gold chanting their victory song. While that sight of the local Maryland community is normal during the fall and winter months, I saw tens of thousands of Ethiopians gather in College Park last week for the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America’s (ESFNA) MARYLAND 2013: 30th Annual Soccer Tournament and Cultural Festival.

Throughout the entire week, I met Ethiopians from around the country who made the journey to College Park for the annual event, including tourists from California. I was even more surprised to find Ethiopians traveling south of the border from Ontario, Canada.

“We drove 18 hours from Minnesota to come here. We went to the one in Dallas last year and it was enjoyable. We’re really excited for [Ethiopian Day] later,” said Dawit Melaku, 29 year old Ethiopian from Minnesota.

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Hundreds of Ethiopian vendors  on-site at Byrd Stadium

ESFNA has brought this event to Maryland in years past, and other highly populated Ethiopian metropolitan areas around the country, including Los Angeles and Atlanta. As a fellow resident of the highest Ethiopian populated state, I was able to see why the ESFNA decided to return to Maryland to celebrate the 30th anniversary.

Throughout the week, spectators took the stands in the lower bowl and watched Ethiopian soccer clubs compete against each other on the FieldTurf Surface, which was recently installed last year at Byrd Stadium.

Aside from the the fast-paced action on the field, the entire main concourse was packed with hundreds of vendors for Ethiopians to drive business. Ranging from non-profit organizations booths, to clothing concessions, to food stands, the unique Ethiopian culture, cuisine, and environment was certainly live.

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A Proclamation from Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern L. Baker, III

As the workdays ended and turned into the late afternoons and early evenings, the festival’s attendance gradually increased with families and friends arriving. The concourse suddenly became very busy and felt as if I was walking through a densely, crowded Little Ethiopia. Even for non-Ethiopians, it was a positive, welcoming environment to be around.
In honor of Ethiopian Day, Montgomery County Executive, Isiah Leggett, and Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern L. Baker III, and Deputy Secretary of State, Rajan Natarajan, spoke  and praised the largest Ethiopian populated-area in the country.

“I’m delighted to serve as the co-chair of this 30th Anniversary. To be with so many friends and so many people who enjoy sports, but enjoy the culture, the religion, and all the wonderful things that Ethiopia has to offer to all of the world,” said Leggett.

It was great to see the Ethiopian population from across the country (and Canada) unite here in Maryland to celebrate their culture and heritage through sport. After researching and attending this event, I am now more interested in discovering how more nationalities in the US have cultural celebrations intertwined with sport on a nation level like the ESFNA.

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Tens of thousands of Ethiopians packed the stands on Ethiopian Day
Credit: EthioTube

Welcome to Maryland, Washington Spirit!

The Maryland Office of Sports is pleased to welcome the Washington Spirit and women’s professional soccer back to Maryland! The Inaugural NWSL home game for your Washington Spirit kicks off on Saturday, April Spirtlogo20th against Western New York Flash. The match is expected to feature the FIFA World Player of the Year Abby Wambach in her professional soccer return to the Maryland SoccerPlex. The Washington Spirit features US National team star Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and Lori Lindsey. Discounted tickets are available for Maryland Sports supporters via this email. Order your tickets today to be a part of this historic event in women’s professional sports.

Saturday, April 20th – 7PM
Washington Spirit vs. Western New York
Maryland SoccerPlex – parking is FREE
Cost: $15 (reg. $20) – Away Side & Spirit Hill GA
Promo Code = mdsports (only needed for orders of 1-9 tickets)

To order tickets please follow this link:

For more information or to organize a group outing to another Spirit match, please contact Rob Bartlett (Washington Spirit – Ticket Programs Manager) at 240-394-9758 or rbartlett@washingtonspirit.com. Please visit www.washingtonspirit.com and follow the team on Twitter @washspirit.

ACC Men’s Soccer Championship

This past weekend the Maryland SoccerPlex (Montgomery County) played host to some of the best collegiate soccer in the county – ACC Men’s Soccer Championship.  The final four teams made their way to Montgomery County for the semi-finals Friday night under the lights.  The two matches played to overtime with the University of North Carolina taking the early match and the University of Maryland taking the night cap.

I had the good fortune to travel over the SoccerPlex on Sunday afternoon for the championship match between the Tar Heels and Terrapins. The Terrapins won the match 2-1 (complete match recap) in front of a capacity crowd of over 9,000.  The atmosphere was definitely that deserving of a championship match.  The stands were packed and the end zone was filled with a very energetic and robust Maryland student section.  And as someone who was charged with ensuring unspectacular the weather, I delivered a beautiful and sunny mid 60 degree day…in November!

I want to take a moment to congratulate the University of Maryland on their ACC Men’s Soccer Championship crown.  More importantly, I would like to thank and congratulate the Maryland SoccerPlex for their commitment to delivering a first-class event at their first-class facility.  The pitch looked outstanding, the venue was well dressed and the staffing was great. SoccerPlex Executive Director, Trish Heffelfinger’s team did an outstanding job of working with the ACC, the participating universities and provided a great fan experience. They definitely showcased the State of Maryland at its best.  I tip my hat to our friends at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Next stop the 2012 NCAA Men’s College Cup! 

Maryland opens the College Cup as the #2 seed and will take on the winner of the Brown v. Drexel on November 18th at home.

The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers also qualified for the NCAA Men’s College Cup.  Retrievers will open their quest for the College Cup on the road at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA on November 15th.

Maryland will have to win four matches and UMBC will have to win five matches to have a chance to compete for the College Cup on December 9, 2012.

Good luck to both the Retrievers and Terps!

Complete College Cup bracket