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Rick Suyao named High Country Soccer Association’s first Executive Director

This past week, High Country Soccer Association’s board of directors announced in the club’s weekly newsletter the hiring of the Boone-based soccer club’s first executive director, Rick Suyao. He began his duties on April 1, 2018.

“The board wholeheartedly agrees that Rick is the leader who will take HCSA to its next level of growth,” says Tracy Tilley, President of HCSA Board of Directors.

High Country Soccer Association is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization that provides professional soccer training with licensed coaches for youth ranging from U6 to U18 competing in the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association. The club, which opened in 1986, also operates the local adult league and winter futsal training. In all, HCSA has more than 600 youth players and more than 250 adult players from five different counties.  

Suyao, who has been an HCSA board member since 2010, will step down from the volunteer position to be in charge of the day-to-day operations of HCSA’s administrative office.  Jody Young will continue to be the Director of Coaching for the Club.  Young handles all duties that pertain to coaching and programming – recruiting and developing coaches and ensuring that the coaching staff continues to develop players in the HCSA soccer philosophy.  Basically, Young handles duties “on the field” and Suyao will handle duties “off the field”.  Suyao’s duties will focus on fundraising, sponsorships, community relations, marketing, finance, and membership relations.

“First of all, I would like to thank HCSA’s board of directors for trusting me and have the faith in me to lead our soccer club,” says Suyao. “I am honored and humbled by this responsibility. The club has achieved incredible growth in the last 10 years. We have a full calendar of events and programming. We run two soccer tournaments in the summer that bring more than 120 teams to the High Country that generate more than $1,000,000 in economic impact, so in addition to providing a great benefit to our local youth, we are also a positive business partner to the area’s travel and tourism market. My focus now is to pay closer attention to our membership’s concerns and to ensure we have a secure future for many years to come.”

The security Suyao is referring to is the ongoing need for field space and the inevitable recurring expense of re-turfing the artificial field surface at Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex. The soccer complex is shared in a three-way partnership with Appalachian State’s Men’s and Women’s Soccer programs and Watauga County’s Parks and Recreation Department.  

“TMSC is 10 years old, which is about the time to start evaluating and testing the condition of when artificial turf needs to be replaced,” says Suyao. “We can probably squeeze a couple more years out of the current artificial surface, but that expense is inevitable. Significant fundraising needs to be done to prepare for that day.”

Suyao, a Blowing Rock resident, has more than 20 years of of marketing experience, mainly with non-profit performing arts organizations. He also has extensive experience in the media and was the publisher of a 20,000 monthly circulation arts magazine in Charlotte, NC. Suyao holds a B.S. degree in business marketing from West Virginia University and a M.A. in marketing and communications from Emerson College in Boston. He and his wife, Allison, who is a team manager for HCSA, have 2 soccer kids, Lily (U17) and Kai (U13).