WILSON, NC (WNCT) — Soccer teams from all over North Carolina will compete at The Brittany Soccer Showcase on Mar. 10 and 11.
There are approximately 75 teams set to play at Burt Gillette Athletic Complex in Wilson for the event. Just over 2,000 high school players and coaches come to the event each year.
“It’s just an opportunity for the community to come together to support something really good and be able able to provide the message … and to remember Brittany,” said Stewart Arens, chairman of The Brittany Committee.
The Brittany Soccer Showcase, ‘The Brittany,’ is a memorial event. Willis was 17 when she was raped and murdered in Wilson in 2004. The Brittany Message is a key part of the tournament each year to share the reason behind the showcase.
“When the buses come in for the first time, for their first game, we have a representative or an ambassador that gets on the bus and gives a little speech about Brittany and about her life, what happened to her,” said Arens.
The ambassadors will also provide safety tips like being aware of surroundings, staying alert and trusting instincts when in uncomfortable situations.
“Every one of the girls that come through this [showcase] hear this every year. It doesn’t matter if you came last year, you’re going to still get it this year,” said Arens.
The Brittany is a positive event that brings the community together as well.
“It is a huge positive event for Wilson. We have this great facility that the city of Wilson has built and with all volunteers, we’re able to bring this event in,” said Arens. “
Teams from public and private schools with similar skill levels will play each other.
There is no charge for the teams to participate in the showcase, however, most of the teams do collect money as a donation to the Brittany Scholarship, which is presented to a senior in the area every year. Players will also be recognized for their sportsmanship by field officials after each game, with one player being selected to receive an award at the end of the showcase.
“Sportsmanship is something that we really focus on. It’s something that Brittany’s family wanted to make sure that people realized, that was part of … her being,” said Arens. “She was very sportsmanship-minded and a great teammate and had a lot of empathy.”