By ALEX SPONSELLER Warwick native and longtime Warwick Fire Fighters Soccer Club volunteer Mark Laurie was recently named an inductee to the Soccer RI Hall of Fame. Laurie began his 30-year tenure with WFFSC back in 1990, starting as a coach for his
By ALEX SPONSELLER Warwick native and longtime Warwick Fire Fighters Soccer Club volunteer Mark Laurie was recently named an inductee to the Soccer RI Hall of Fame.
Laurie began his 30-year tenure with WFFSC back in 1990, starting as a coach for his kids. He went on to coach for 16 years, earning a National “D” License, and also coached numerous teams to state championships and appearances in national tournaments. He later went on to become a referee as well.
Laurie joined the WFFSC Board of Directors in 1995 and has been a member ever since. He has been the Vice President of the club since 2005.
One of his proudest accomplishments though, was his implementation of the club’s scholarship program back in 2008, aiding local high school players that are heading to college. Since then, over $20,000 has been awarded.
Whether it be helping with coaching, photo days, field maintenance, refereeing, and various other roles, Laurie’s impact has been key in WFFSC becoming the state’s largest and most successful youth soccer organization.
“I was surprised. I was told at a board meeting kind of out of the blue. I have been with the club for 30 years, and what (WFFSC President) Doyle (Byrd) has done with this club has been tremendous. He says that it wouldn’t be where it is today without me, but it wouldn’t be what it is without him,” said Laurie, who has enjoyed his three decades with the club and plans on continuing to contribute long term. “It is very special. It something that I am proud of. It’s one of those things that once you get started you kind of keep on going. I just never thought about giving it up and I don’t plan on giving it up any time soon. Now that I’m retired, I have probably put in even more hours.”
Laurie has also been happy to lend a hand across a number of different jobs, and embraces the opportunity to learn new things and become well-rounded for the good of the program.
“Over the years, whatever job I was assigned, I always stuck with it because there is a learning curve and I always want to get better. I feel like I have gotten better because of it. You’re volunteering, people appreciate what you’re doing, you feel good about it. I just do my job,” said Laurie.
As Laurie waits to welcome the club back for the spring season, he hopes to see even more locals step up to volunteer and make a difference in the Warwick soccer community.
“It’s been phenomenal. I think, ‘Where did the time go?’ I just like accomplishing things, I like getting things done. I’ve been here for so long, I have seen so many people come and go. I think about the struggles that we have had over the years to get people to volunteer, and I understand that people work full time, have kids, but there is always time. Meeting people, being around people, it’s good for you,” said Laurie.
Byrd appreciates Laurie’s loyalty to club and also hopes to see more people like him join WFFSC.
“It seems it is becoming more difficult to get anyone to volunteer. That is why it is so amazing to have someone dedicate so much time, effort, and energy to volunteering for 30 years without seeking any recognition,” said Byrd. “Mark is truly an unsung hero for what he has provided behind the scenes at WFFSC to provide the children of Warwick and surrounding communities with the ability to play a sport that is loved by so many.”