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The Harrisburg Heat: The Love of the Game

By Elisha Neubauer

The Harrisburg Heat has been gaining momentum since their re-inception in May of 2012. While the name might sound familiar, this expansion team is a new franchise with an all new game plan. Unlike most other teams in the indoor Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), the players of the Harrisburg Heat are mostly locals and remain in the area year round. This allows the team and staff to give back to the community in ways many other teams cannot.

In an effort to bring the sport of indoor soccer to more of the community, the Harrisburg Heat provides several unique clinics to the area's youth. They hold three summer camps: Twin Ponds West, Sportscity Harrisburg, and Red Rose Lancaster. The summer camps are intended for children aged five to thirteen and are just as much instructional as they are fun. Although they span a large age gap, the camp is split up into age groups and skill levels where children can focus on appropriate skills training. The Heat's head coach and professional players are all hands-on with each and every child, ensuring a fun, educational experience for everyone in attendance.

According to John Wilsbach, Owner and General Manager of the Heat, the team does not stop bringing indoor soccer to the youth once school resumes. Players from the Heat make appearances at local elementary schools in an attempt to promote the game- as well as healthy eating and the benefits of exercise. Several players are also youth coaches during the off-season.

If you're wondering what the differences between indoor and outdoor soccer are- you are not alone. When asked to explain the variations, Wilsbach answered, "The indoor game is a lot faster and more exciting than the outdoor. The teams play on a field with turf, boards and glass. Although outdoor soccer continues to grow in viewership, there is more steady action with indoor soccer." He went on to explain that the indoor game plays four 15-minute quarters versus the two 45-minute halves played by the outdoor leagues. Indoor soccer also scores differently- using 2 and 3 point goals which help to generate more excitement from the audience. Wilsbach claims this changes the pace of the game entirely. "There are only 5 indoor players, plus a keeper, on the field at a time for each team. They can change/substitute at will. Players are constantly running, shooting, and defending on a smaller field," he says.

While the Harrisburg Heat originally began in the early '90s, new owners, management, and staff have taken the team to new heights. Game attendance has steadily been increasing over the last three seasons as the team's community outreach has continued to expand. The team- both staff and players- are all involved for the right reason: the love of the game. This loyalty shows in every outreach program, elementary school visit, and match that they play.

The 2015-16 season is set to begin in November in the Large Arena at the Farm Show Complex.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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