When Kim Hykey and Mike Vivino told their respective girls soccer teams that they would have the opportunity to play a game at Red Bull Arena this fall, they were met with equal parts excitement and stunned disbelief.
The shock might not be gone by Sept. 20, but the reality will hit members of the Lyndhurst and North Arlington teams when they step foot on the pitch at Harrison in an independent game between the two neighboring rivals.
As part of the agreement with the New York Red Bulls, both Lyndhurst and North Arlington are asked to sell 500 tickets each to the Red Bulls’ Aug. 27 game against Inter Miami CF. Anyone who purchases a ticket to the Red Bulls-Inter Miami game through the schools (links are below) will also receive a ticket to the North Arlington-Lyndhurst game.
“Every kid’s dream is to play in a professional stadium,” Vivino, the North Arlington head coach said. “Even as a coach who’s been doing this for so long, you get that feeling like when you were a kid when you get to see professional players, be on the field and see the stuff that they do. It’s just a whole nother level altogether.”
“We were just geeked because these kids will never have an opportunity like this again,” said Hykey, Lyndhurst’s head coach. “They’re going to get to use the locker rooms, they’re going to be exactly where the professional players are before their games. We both wanted to make sure that we did as much as we could to get this opportunity because they don’t come around too often.”
In February, Hykey was already starting to plan a group trip to a Red Bulls game as a summer team bonding activity when she learned of Wood-Ridge playing a game at Red Bull Arena this upcoming season. After learning what it would take – selling 500 tickets per team – she placed a call to the coach of a longtime Golden Bears rival.
“We’re in different leagues now, but when I was growing up we were big rivals, we’re right next to each other and close and they’re good too,” said Hykey, who still fondly remembers getting to chance to play basketball at the then Continental Airlines Arena while a student at Lyndhurst. “Mike was way into it.”
“I don’t think it sunk in at first, but as it started getting closer they started to understand that this is real. The parents I think might even be more excited because they understand what it means. Everybody’s pretty excited.”
Lyndhurst and North Arlington will become the first two Bergen County schools to play at Red Bull Arena. Prior to this season, access to the arena was largely limited to Harrison and Kearny high schools. Last fall for the first time ever, Red Bull Arena hosted the Hudson County Boys and Girls Soccer Tournament finals, which featured the Kearny boys defeating Harrison in an overtime classic.
To purchase tickets through Lyndhurst High School: https://offer.fevo.com/new-york-red-bulls-vs-inter-miami-cf-gfy1ch2-9ea159b?fevoUri=new-york-red-bulls-vs-inter-miami-cf-gfy1ch2-9ea159b%2Fnew-york-red-bulls-vs-inter-miami-cf-gfy1ch2-9ea159b
To purchase tickets through North Arlington High School: https://offer.fevo.com/new-york-red-bulls-vs-inter-miami-cf-asnuqdd-5c78900?fevoUri=new-york-red-bulls-vs-inter-miami-cf-asnuqdd-5c78900%2Fnew-york-red-bulls-vs-inter-miami-cf-asnuqdd-5c78900
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)