While the 31st annual Lake Country Soccer Fall Classic tournament is underway Oct. 17-18, there’s one 11-year-old boy who won’t be sitting on the sidelines.

Despite brain surgery last December for a condition called Chiari malformation, Noah Marsh, who celebrates his birthday today (Oct. 5), will be kicking the ball and going for goals with his teammates. Just no heading the ball, said his mom, Melanie Marsh.

“Sports in general are his life,” Melanie Marsh said. “He wakes up in the morning and watches ESPN so he can get all the updates. Literally the sun rises and sets around sports in our house.”

For a while, Melanie Marsh and her husband, David, wondered if the family’s focus on sports would continue. Noah’s condition, in which the back compartment of the skull is too small and crowds neurological tissue, was causing severe headaches, blurry vision and pain.

“He would get out of bed, go to school, come home and go straight to bed,” Melanie Marsh said.

The condition, discovered when Noah’s symptoms appeared after a fall during a soccer game, was taking its toll on the energetic boy but, fortunately, he was diagnosed and the malformation surgically repaired.

He missed the entire winter soccer season last year and part of spring, but now, the student at Wilson’s Creek Intermediate School is back to his old self playing soccer, baseball and other sports. Noah, in fact, was back to playing soccer in April, just four months after surgery.

He will be among 2,200 players, coaches and family members competing in the Lake Country Soccer event.

“He’s very excited,” Melanie Marsh said. “He loves tournaments.”

In all, 150 teams - Boys Under 9 through Under 14 and Girls Under 9 through Under 18 - will compete in 268 games in the two-day Fall Classic. Last year, there were 132 teams participating and 238 games played.

Competitive and recreational teams from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Illinois are registered for the tournament and multiple hotels will be used to house teams traveling to the city.

Admission for spectators is free. Games begin at 8 a.m. Oct. 17 and run throughout the day until about 8 p.m. Games begin at 8 a.m. and end around 5 p.m. Oct. 18.

It’s a safe bet the entire Marsh family, including Noah’s siblings - 8-year-old Jonah and 17-year-old Lindsay - will be among those spectators.

For more information, visit www.lakecountrysoccer.org or call 417-862-3211. The tournament schedule will be posted online Oct. 15.