The fifth annual Rex King Memorial soccer tournament is this week and it signifies more than the start of the soccer season.
It hasn’t been heavily promoted, but the 32-team event is a way to give local soccer players a glimpse into something a bit more important than athletics.
The tournament is named in honor of Timber Creek girls head soccer coach Mike King’s father.
Rex King died in 2011 of cancer, and the tournament bearing his name is a fundraiser for Community Hospice of Texas.
During the final stages of the battle with cancer, Mike King stayed in touch with a former player who worked at CHOT. She kept her former coach apprised as to when it was the right time to utilize hospice services.
The services, such as those provided by the not-for-profit CHOT, include grief and family counseling, pain management and palliative care catered to the needs and desires of the patient and family. Patients are allowed to pass with dignity, honor and peace, King said.
This year, 100 percent of the funds raised from the tournament will go to CHOT. Over the last four years, the tournament has raised over $40,000 for the Fort Worth hospice.
“You can do a lot for the soccer program, but what are you doing for the community?” King said of teaching his players about something more important than winning. “This is a way to give back to families that are not as fortunate as us. It’s a rare opportunity to show kids it’s not all about me or them.
“This is a great way to give back to the hospice that gave so much to us, and to honor my dad and raise money for people that can’t afford the care or don’t have insurance at the end of life. It’s good for the kids to learn a little bit about life.”
Soccer was a natural way to honor Rex King.
“My dad was very involved in youth soccer through the ’70s and ’80s and if he wasn’t involved in soccer, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today,” Mike King said of his father.
“After he coached me and my sister Kaye, he started coaching others, and after college, he became a fixture on my sideline,” King added.
The tournament will have four divisions of eight teams each – boys and girls varsity and JV.
The games will be played at both Timber Creek and Fossil Ridge fields and include many teams from around the area and as far away as Odessa and Tyler.
Fossil Ridge coach Dorothy Ortiz’s father also died in hospice care, so King said the emotional investment is just as strong with the Falcons’ partner. Byron Nelson’s squads will also be there.
The Rex King Memorial will be the first event of the soccer season.
The tournament runs Jan. 5-7, with the first round games of Timber Creek and Fossil Ridge starting at 4 p.m. at their respective fields. Click here for the tournament brackets.
The Lady Falcons will take North Crowley, while the Lady Panthers play Red Oak.
The boys will follow at 6 p.m., with Timber Creek playing Tyler Lee and Fossil Ridge taking on Arlington.
The JV division games will begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
What type of team the Lady Falcons will bring to the field is a bit of an unknown at this stage, King said.
“It’s too early to tell,” he said. “We graduated eight seniors and we’ll have nine freshmen and sophomores this year. We need to grow up in a hurry. They are talented but the speed of the game is so fast.
“We get it mentally,” King added. “I wouldn’t want to play us, but we’re young and figuring things out. I feel pretty good about where we’re at if we figure it out after the first three tournaments.”