BATESVILLE — Note: This information was submitted by Bill Betts.
Youth soccer in Batesville has its roots in the late 1970’s when the Batesville Soccer Program was started by volunteer members of the Batesville Kiwanis organization. The club was managed by parents of players and for many years Bob and Barb Bernens led the club, organizing each season with oversight by the Kiwanis Club.
By 1984, Batesville had 384 kids playing soccer. Throughout the 1980’s the sport grew in Batesville, but it really took off when Dave and Ruthie Mannix became involved in the early 1990’s. Early on there was no formal high school soccer program, but a major push was initiated in 1997 by parents and club members to incorporate soccer into the high school athletic department. Youth soccer continued to grow in Batesville, reaching a milestone in 2002 with the opening and dedication of the Bill Gillespie Soccer Park. Prior to that time, all games and practices were played behind Batesville High School and Batesville Primary School, on what are now the Batesville High School softball fields - and there were no permanently designated fields for soccer. The opening of Gillespie Soccer Park generated further interest and participation in youth soccer and by 2003 over 600 local kids was participating in the sport. Today, more than 550 local kids play soccer each year, supported by more than 40 sponsors and 100 coaches and volunteers.
Bill Gillespie, for whom the park was named, was a Kiwanian and a leader in the program, serving as a coach and referee from the early days of the program until his retirement in 1999.
The Batesville Soccer Club sponsors teams playing in both the Fall and Spring seasons. The Fall season is a recreational league for both boys and girls ages 4 – 14. Batesville teams play in the Eastern Association Soccer League (EISA) with teams from Sunman and Greensburg. The fall season begins in late July or early August, running early October and ending in the now regionally famous "Casket Cup" tournament where up to 75 teams from all over Indiana and Ohio compete with 3v3 teams. This year we had over 40 sponsors and 36 teams for the Fall league, and 73 teams played in the Casket Cup Tournament. The Spring Season, which runs from March through May, features select teams that travel throughout the state of Indiana. Teams are formed through competitive try-outs by age and gender, with over 200 kids playing each Spring. All local Spring teams play under the name of Southeastern Indiana (SEI) United, as part of the Indiana Soccer League (ISL) and are affiliated with Indiana Soccer, which is the governing body for soccer within the state.