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All-Stars playing for good cause

Photo by Christine Troyke

Photo by Christine Troyke

Gwinnett County's high school soccer coaches weren't happy with the existing options for all-star games, so they came up with a plan.

Host their own game.

That's how the Region 7-AAAAA vs. Region 8-AAAAA All-Star Senior Soccer Games were born, and they make their debut tonight with a pair of matchups at Dacula High School. The girls play at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 8 p.m.

All of the money raised from the game, including player participation fees of $10, will be donated to the Gwinnett Special Olympics. An admission donation of $5 also will go directly to that charity.

"I have been wanting to do something like this for years mainly because we have some of the best soccer players in the state right here in Gwinnett County," Brookwood boys coach Danny Klinect said. "This event could not have been possible without the amazing support from (North Gwinnett's) Mark Karen, (Mill Creek's) Sean Garnett, (Parkview's) Judson Hamby, (Dacula's) Michael Burrell, and the rest of the Gwinnett coaches in putting this thing together.

"It is a great opportunity to honor our senior soccer players and celebrate their wonderful careers but also to give back to the community by supporting the Gwinnett Special Olympics program."

The two Gwinnett regions from Class AAAAA are considered among the state's best each season, and this year was no different. Four Gwinnett teams made the AAAAA semifinals this season and two -- the Collins Hill boys and the North Gwinnett girls -- finished as state runner-up. The Parkview boys and the Mill Creek girls also made the Final Four.

"We thought the kids and their families would enjoy a friendly region rivalry game since many of these kids either play on the same club team together or against each other in club," Karen said. "We also wanted to make it a low-cost, charity event so we involved the Gwinnett Special Olympics."