Youth Soccer News: 2011 San Diego Surf Thanksgiving Tournament.
The highly competitive youth soccer tournament, the 2011 San Diego Surf Thanksgiving Cup is only weeks away.
Thanksgiving weekend on the soccer field? May sound really strange to some, but competing in Surf’s Thanksgiving Cup has become a tradition and a highly sought after way to welcome the Holiday season. With teams traveling to San Diego from as far away at Guatemala to compete, the upcoming Thanksgiving Cup is a great way to share the passion of our sport with real holiday spirit.
The Surf Thanksgiving Cup is held the same weekend as the Surf College Cup; the premier fall season college showcase which draws teams from all across America. Attended by top soccer scouts and college coaches, the Surf College Cup and the prestigious San Diego Surf Cup are both directed by Mike Connerley.
This will be the second year for tournament director Brenda Sampiere who took over running the tournament when John Mullen turned over the reigns. Mullen, a Member of the Board of Cal South, helped launched the tournament 5 years ago. “Brenda runs a very successful and well-organized tournament. Last year was great and the tournament only gets better year after year,” says Mullen.
Brenda Sampiere believes in giving back to the soccer community and performs her role as tournament director with dedication and detailed professionalism. Sampiere defines herself as intensely organized and says, “I am a mechanical engineer. I like the challenge and puzzle of organizing the youth tournament. I work many late nights when my four children are asleep and it is quiet. I surround myself with spreadsheets. My philosophy is never to make players and their families travel between too many venues. I believe competitive youth tournaments should not have players traveling from field to field in between games. My philosophy: One venue - max two.”
Sampiere describes her first year as tournament director as emotionally and physically exhausting. Forced into finding new fields for the tournament when Carlsbad Lightning launched their own tournament at Thanksgiving, Sampiere spent significant time last year developing relationships with the venues. Sampiere says, “Building trust is critical to the success of a tournament. We were such good customers. This year I only had to use 20% of that time to determine and confirm venues.”
When asked what is her greatest fear, Sampiere says, “The weather. I can be totally organized but if it rains heavily there is nothing I can do. There are simply not enough turf soccer fields in San Diego. My concern is for all the players who want to compete but I am especially aware and concerned for the soccer coaches and families who traveled so far to compete in the Thanksgiving Cup. With 234 teams signed up for this year's tournament, I can only hope it doesn’t rain …”
The tournament has grown every year since it started in 2008 when it launched with 91 teams. Last year, 197 teams competed. “I really try to make people happy. Customer service is important, and resolving coaching conflicts with not only our Thanksgiving tournament but also with the College Cup is a major challenge,” says Sampiere.
The Thanksgiving Cup is a first rate youth tournament with highly competitive teams playing on the best fields available. The tournament's age range is U7 to U15. The teams between U9 and U14 who become Thanksgiving Cup Champions are automatically awarded entrance into the prestigious summer Surf Cup. “Acceptance to play at next year’s Surf Cup is a nice perk and a great recruiting tool for clubs,” says Sampiere.
“It has been my motto that bigger is not better and that we need to provide quality fields, excellent referees, schedules need to be out a month in advance and I work very closely with coaches on resolving as many coaching conflicts as possible. The bigger the tournament gets, the more difficult it is to offer those services,” says Sampiere.
According to Sampiere, the Thanksgiving tournament typically does not have the lower end teams. A person used to paying attention to the details, Sampiere believes it is important to get the schedule out as early as possible. “It is absurd to have a tournament schedule out a few days before a competition. My goal is to have the tournament’s schedule out a month before the competition. Last year, I had it out three weeks before Thanksgiving Cup. It is a holiday weekend, and people need to be able to plan.”
“The Surf Thanksgiving event does benefit from the halo affect of the San Diego Surf Cup, which just celebrated its 31st year,” says Mullen. “Mike Connerley runs an excellent tournament but as I always say, 30 years or more of practice can help.”
The purpose of the tournament is to provide funding for the specialty programs offered to all players at Surf Soccer Club including the Scholarship Program, Goal Keeper Training, Speed and Agility Training, as well as supporting the club’s participation in the U.S. Soccer Academy and ECNL.
Sampiere says, “We are every proud that the tournament is run with very little administrative overhead and significantly supported through parent volunteers.”
“I guess finally, I would like people to know that we appreciate their support and realize that there are multiple tournaments to choose from at Thanksgiving. I believe that tournaments need to offer a good value and we are striving hard to provide that, make new improvements every year and welcome feedback at email@example.com”