Bisons girls soccer has come a long way since 1990

When the Bedford girls’ soccer team captured the state championship in Hershey Saturday, they made history: the first team in the county to bring home a PIAA title.

The epic accomplishment was deserving of an epic celebration: one that spanned not only miles, but also decades. Back on his sheep farm in Dutch Corner, Bedford County, Jack Monsour quietly smiled, having started the county’s youth soccer program in the early 1990s.

“I was ecstatic,” said Monsour, the first head coach of the Bedford girls’ varsity soccer team. “I just kept thinking back as to where they started and how far the program has come.”

Monsour recalls having just 11 players on that first team, which struggled to find a place to practice and even to play games. But they were enthusiastic to learn the game, and enjoyed the experience, win or lose.

“That was a phenomenal group of kids,” he said, “and rarely did we have 11 for a game – the kids were so busy in all of their activities, we almost always played short-handed. We lost our first game, 13-0, but I call that group our pioneers.”

Monsour’s early efforts to bring soccer to Bedford County stemmed from his own playing experience at an Ohio prep school in the 1960s. After starting the girls program, he went on to coach the boys’ varsity team for 10 years. He admits that starting out, they were “clueless,” learning the sport’s evolving rules while developing Bedford area soccer, which now includes youth, high school and even traveling team opportunities.

Over the years, hundreds of athletes have played the game, each building on the previous teams’ successes; many have served as coaches, from elementary through high school teams, teaching the fundamentals to participants as well as to parents and fans.

Monsour points out how soccer supporters worked to raise funds for facility improvements, including lighting and stands for the field inside the high school track. That field served as home to another Bedford boys’ district championship team this season, as well as the undefeated-state-champion girls: coaches and players who walked in the footsteps of those who came before them, all of whom deserve to share in the special celebration.

“They’ve raised the bar,” Monsour said. “I read what (Bedford head coach) Jeff Thomas says in the paper. He coaches a possession game and defense … they’ve set a standard so that others in our area will see and understand how the game should be played.”

Just as Blair County girls’ basketball exploded after those early Altoona state championships, Bedford County may see a similar result for soccer, promising a bright future for the Bisons and beyond.

“Bedford’s a soccer school now, that’s how I look at it,” Monsour said. “And it all started from humble beginnings and we can all be really proud.”

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org.

COMMENTS