Veronica Cashman has coached players from ages 4 to 18 at the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League (SCYSL) for about eight years. Her four year-old son, a member of a league’s recreation team, Little Leos, just played his first game. Her nine year-old daughter was also part of the recreation program and has since transitioned to Santa Clara Sporting 06, a club for competing soccer players. Staying busy on the field, Cashman coaches both her children’s teams as well as two additional competitive teams.
“It’s not just about the exercise and physical activity; the kids here also get a structured environment where they make friends and learn about listening to their coaches and being responsible, being a teammate and working with others,” Cashman says. “Both the recreational and competitive players go to the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park, which is a great facility. The kids love playing there.”
The SCYSL, founded in 1980, is part of the California Youth Soccer Association, a non-profit organization. The Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park is a city park owned by the City of Santa Clara. According to Gabe Foo, SCYSL board member, an estimated 50,000 kids have participated in the league since 1980. Presently, about 1,500 kids are playing in the league’s recreation and competitive programs. Some players have gone on to play on the national soccer team and the U.S. Soccer’s Olympic development program and have been recruited to play collegiate soccer.
One hardworking player who is seeking opportunities to play collegiate soccer is Monica Hrncir, 16. This senior at Archbishop Mitty High School has been playing soccer for 13 years and has been competing in Santa Clara Sporting since age six.
“Being in the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League has helped me get noticed by more colleges and really put me on the right track toward going to a four year college,” Hrncir says. “Playing in Santa Clara Sporting has helped me grow as a person. My team really feels like family.”
“My son Noah is playing on the Santa Clara Lions FC (also referred to as the Santa Clara Lions Football Club) for beginner competitors in soccer,” says Timo McIntosh. “The Santa Clara Lions FC is for the lower tier competitors.”
For Noah McIntosh,8, the score keeping accompanied with competitive soccer gives him a thrill.
“It’s pretty cool to win and you feel proud of yourself when you win because you know you can’t win all the time,” McIntosh says. “There was one game where I was playing really good. I got into the right wing. I was in the center a little bit. I dribbled down, I cut in and I scored by getting the ball in the goal.”
“The time commitment for being in the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League varies and is based on whether you’re a recreational player or competitive player,” Cashman says. “The recreational teams typically practice one to two times a week, depending on their age. Also, there will be games on most weekends throughout the season, which runs at the end of August through mid-November. For the competitive players, you’ll probably practice twice a week as well. But it’s possible to have multiple games over the weekend and your season runs yearlong with some breaks in between. Registration for the recreation program is already closed for this year. For the competitive players, we are open to having kids try out all year long.”
Visit http://www.scyouthsoccer.org for more information about the SCYSL.