By Melissa Andelin
It’s not everyday that your team gets to play on the biggest stage for your sport. But for four of our Utah teams, this was the case. Recently, these teams travelled to Texas to participate in the pinnacle of youth soccer tournaments- US Youth Soccer National Championships. Out of 10,000 teams to compete nationally, these teams were four of the 96 who earned a shot to call themselves the best.
During the tournament, a sense of pride accompanied the coaches as they admired their players’ hard work and commitment to the game. Of the four teams participating, the girls’ U15 La Roca and U17 Celtic teams advanced to the semifinals.
For Pancho Ovalle, coach of the girls U15 La Roca team, this entire experience was very special and he enjoyed every moment with his girls. He said, “they left their lives on the field...to the last minute.” When asked about his success, he explained that the secret ingredient is the parents. He said, “They support me 100%. Everything I need, they give me right away. It makes a huge difference.”
For many, a highlight of their experience happened during the opening luncheon where all the competing teams came together to celebrate. Everyone was dressed up and watched video montages of season highlights and memories. Trophies were brought out to infuse excitement and energy into the players. Coach Koelliker of the U17 Sparta team said that he and many of his players had goosebumps from the emotional experience.
Katie Houston, who was selected to the Best 11 team within her U16 age group, described what an honor it is to be a part of the soccer community as it provides a great opportunity to meet new people and continue to learn life lessons. Easton Harryman, who was also selected to the Best 11 team within his U17 age group, was taught an important life lesson during the tournament about making mistakes. He explained that it’s not the mistake that counts, but how you react and how you make up for it that makes all the difference.
Congratulations to all those involved including players, coaches, and parents. UYSA is incredibly proud of each team.
Easton Harryman Katie Houston