Leo Moss left an indelible impression on the young athletes of Quaker Valley.
Members of the Quaker Valley Recreation Association, the non-profit organization for the Sewickley area football, baseball/softball and lacrosse sports leagues, want to ensure its legacy continues with a new artificial turf pitch .
Fundraising has begun for the Leo Moss Memorial Football Field Project.
The project includes the installation of an artificial turf field 75 yards wide and 120 yards long and a practice field approximately 30 yards by 30 yards.
Its cost is estimated between 1.5 and 2 million dollars.
The field is part of the Legacy Field Development at Bell Acres Park, an estimated 37-acre site at the intersection of Fern Hollow and Camp Meeting roads.
“We pay tribute to the founder of football in this city, who is a powerhouse,” said Noah Rahm, Sewickley resident and current chairman of Sewickley Area Soccer. “More concretely, we are creating more space on the pitch for these children and the next generation of players.”
Since its founding in 1976 by Leo Moss, Sewickley Area Soccer has never had its own ground. It relied on fields provided by the Quaker Valley School District and Sewickley Academy.
The youth program has also grown from a handful of teams to just under 900 registered players between the ages of 3 and 15.
Moss has been coaching for at least 20 years. He and his wife, Lois, also ran the United Men’s Clothing store and the football store in Sewickley for almost the same period before moving to Frederick, Maryland.
Moss was named 1987 Sewickley Man of the Year for his service to the community.
“Leo had a real calming presence about him,” said Rahm, who played for Moss from 1985-86. about how you behave as an athlete: showing respect to your opponent, showing respect to your teammates and respecting yourself.
“As a child, you wanted to listen to it. You started to believe that if you listened to him, you and your friends could achieve great things on the pitch – and most of the time, it would happen.
Rahm and other Quaker Valley High School boys football players won a state title in the 1991–92 school year.
Moss was also known to be highly organized not just as a coach, but as a behind-the-scenes leader.
“He was responsible for setting up the organization, but more importantly, he really made an impression on the community through who he was,” Rahm said.
A U.S. Navy officer and University of Pittsburgh graduate, Moss died July 20, 2012, at the age of 82.
A bigger picture
The overall development is estimated at approximately $5 million, including the memorial field, lacrosse/soccer field, Little League baseball field, bike path, playground and concession stand.
QVRA works with engineering firm LR Kimball & Associates.
Mikaela Halaja, a board member of the association, said she had been planning the development since 2007 and had a 50-year lease with the district. The site now has a baseball and softball field.
QVRA has spent $2 million improving grading and rain gardens and has planted approximately 2,700 trees since 2013 with Tree Pittsburgh, Boy Scouts and school groups.
Halaja said it was all part of efforts to minimize water runoff in the small Sewickley Creek watershed. However, environmental projects have drained funds raised over the years for recreational improvements.
“QVRA management understands the importance, need and value of reducing water runoff,” Halaja said via email. “The organization spent the money, did the work and secured the property.
“The footballers’ families and other citizens of the region, however, are deeply disappointed to know where their donations had to go.”
A gala is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, October 16 at the Allegheny Country Club, 250 Country Club Road in Sewickley.
This is to kick off the campaign for Leo Moss Memorial Field. Tickets are $45 per person and include hearty hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail. There will be a cash bar and live auctions.
The auction will feature paintings by a local artist, autographed memorabilia and other items of interest. Officials said winning bids are tax-deductible contributions. Winners will be announced at the gala and recognized as donors.
Halaja is expecting several hundred people.
“People are looking forward to getting together again and enjoying the opportunity to get together safely again,” she said. “We are a very tight-knit community. Much of our community is involved in sports in the Sewickley area, be it football, lacrosse or baseball. We are a generous, very active and dedicated community.
“This (field) will not only serve those who play youth sports and families involved in youth sports, but the whole community.”
A Sewickley Area Soccer alumni party is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 15 at the home of a borough resident. Participants must confirm their presence online before October 12. The address will be provided by e-mail at the close of registration.
More information about the field project and to obtain gala tickets is available at lmf.sassoccer.org.
Those unable to attend the gala but wish to donate can send checks to the Quaker Valley Recreation Facilities Development Foundation. Send them to PO Box 385 Sewickley, PA 15143.