The weather so far this winter may have many people outside enjoying the unseasonably kind fresh air, but a new indoor turf bubble in North Sea is hoping to attract young athletes looking to hone their skills year-round.
The facility, run by Future Stars, includes a 40-yard by 70-yard field, and can be split up into several small playing spaces. It opened up this past fall on Majors Path, next to Southampton Youth Services and Future Stars' tennis facility.
On one recent winter day — a sunny weekday with temperatures in the high-40s — Andreas Lindberg, the director of coaching, toured the facility, preparing for Southampton High School's soccer team to drop in for an afternoon session.
Lindberg, the head soccer coach at LIU Post, said the indoor turf facility will provide young athletes the opportunity to stay active during colder months, which will not only keep them in better shape, but permit year-round training to improve their skills and their chances of playing at the next level.
"It's very exciting to be able to have a place devoted to year-round training," said Lindberg, who played soccer at Stony Brook Southampton. "When you are able to do that, you're really able to see it in players. Sometimes in the spring, you have kids who didn't play over the winter and by then, they've really lost their touches. Sometimes it takes forever to get it back."
While many teams played indoors at the SYS during winter months — or sometimes school gymnasiums, provided space is available — the turf bubble at Future Stars is the first of its kind in the Hamptons, the closest being one at Enterprise Park at Calverton. Lindberg said he sees it as a chance to feature the entire East End, with the possibility of bringing a college showcase to the bubble for local athletes.
"With something like this, it allows the high school teams to get a lot better, and a better chance for the athletes to go to college and play," Lindberg said.
Fourteen-year-old Gian Luca Santacruz, a striker on Southampton High School's soccer team, said the turf at the facility is much like the turf the team plays on during its regular season.
"It's a lot better and you're able to get a better feel" than practicing on a gym or rink, said Santacruz, who has been coming to the bubble about four times a week this winter.
Lindberg said teams from Pierson and Hampton Bays high schools have utilized the facility as well so far this winter. While getting the full team together is tough during the off-season — many athletes play other sports, students have other engagements, etc. — Southampton soccer coach Dave Riley called the bubble "a nice addition to the community. This has opened up things tremendously."
In addition to hosting local high schools, Southampton Soccer Club plays its games from the facility as well as several lacrosse teams — Lindberg oversees about 150 kids in the soccer program while Chris Griffin directs the lacrosse teams.
Adult leagues are also available, and people can also just drop in when the fields are open for $10 to $15 an hour.