Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic told a group of young soccer players Monday that with a little hard work and determination they could be anything they wanted to be — even professional soccer players.
"When I was your age, do you know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be sheriff," Cronic told the youngsters.
Cronic hosted an ice cream social for the members of the Hall County YMCA Stars Blue U10 soccer team Monday. The team of about 20, with ages ranging from 7 to 9 years old, is ranked as the second best team in the state of Georgia and sixth in the nation on soccerin
Rosa Campa, who is in charge of public relations and garnering sponsors for the teams’ tournaments, said she asked Cronic to speak to the players of Hall County YMCA Stars Blue to encourage them to stay involved in sports and let them know there are benefits to staying in school and being a positive role model.
The message, and the ice cream, meant "a lot" to 9-year-old Alonzo Millsap. Alonzo, a midfielder for Stars Blue, said the ice cream social, paid for by Cronic, meant that "people really care for young people."
"I think Sheriff Cronic’s message today was that young people should really keep trying, and whatever they do, it will lead to something good," Alonzo said.
The Hall County YMCA Stars Blue, one of the youngest U10 teams in the state, practices year-round, and took first place this year at the Nike Cup, the Xtreme Adidas Cup, the Lanier Cup and the Atlanta Cup.
Their accomplishments are many, and surprising to other teams who have paid coaches, volunteer coaches David Fromner and Lovie Millsap said.
"They play against a lot of money teams. ... (The other teams) look down us, because we’re with the YMCA," Campa said.
The team has soared to the top of the national ranks with the financial support of local businesses and restaurants who sponsor the team at various tournaments, which can cost about $400 to enter, Campa said.
"It takes the entire community working together to provide activities and positive things for these young people so that they grow up and they can make those good choices and also help each other make those good choices," Cronic said.
Hall County sheriff’s Maj. Ramone Gilbert said Cronic paid for the ice cream social with his own money in an effort to praise them for their accomplishments.
"When you’ve got young people that are doing the right things; they’re making good decisions and being good examples; it’s important to point that out and to recognize that," Cronic said.