There are 254 teams registered for this year's tournament, an increase from 216 in 2016, and an estimated 4,000 players and coaches participating in 13 different locations.
"People love this tournament. It's the perfect time as winter is nearing an end and players and teams are anxious to head outdoors and get ready for their spring season," said Robert Horn, owner and operator of the Utah Sports Lodge, which organizes and runs the Ice Breaker Tournament. "We can't thank the cities of St. George, Washington and Hurricane enough for letting us use their fields. Washington County is such a wonderful place to host this event with its mild climate and tourist attractions. In many cases entire families head south to enjoy a weekend with all that the region has to offer."
This tournament attracts teams from all around the intermountain region, with approximately 90 percent of the participating teams from outside the St. George area. This influx of visitors – who pay for lodging at area hotels, buy meals at local restaurants and shop at area retail stores – are expected to infuse large amounts of money into the local economy.
"A little bit of sunshine goes a long way in making this premier sports destination, and our community enthusiasm makes it even better," said Kevin Lewis, Director of the St. George Area Sports Commission. "This a terrific start to a busy season for sports in our region and it adds a nice boost to our economy."
The tournament is sanctioned by the United States Specialty Sports Association and involves boys and girls soccer players between the ages of 8 and 18. There are 44 divisions with a full slate of games beginning Feb. 18, then picking up again Feb. 20.
"Most tournaments are three days of straight soccer. Ours is unique as we do a full day of soccer on Saturday – everyone plays two games – then break Sunday which gives everyone a chance to enjoy their surroundings and do a little more than just play soccer," Horn said. "We keep the excitement alive by giving everyone a game Monday morning and then those in the finals play Monday afternoon. The combination of sun, fun and soccer makes this an event to remember."
Tournament venues and schedules can be found at www.usucs.com.