SoccerNation is spotlighting youth clubs from all over these United States of America. Powered by soccerloco, the SoccerNation Club Spotlight Series will take us all around Southern California and to special soccer spots across the country.
Next up, we come back a little closer to home as we chat with Steve Yorke, the Director of Coaching at FC Heat Escondido. Here’s Part 1 of the conversation.
Nate Abaurrea: Coach, thanks for joining us.
Steve Yorke: Thanks for having me.
Nate Abaurrea: What is the brief history of your club, FC Heat Escondido? When was it founded and what do you see as some of its most important moments thus far?
Steve Yorke: Escondido Soccer Club and her competitive component, FC Heat Elite are part of a non-profit organization that serves the youth of Escondido and the surrounding areas.
Escondido Soccer Club was originally formed in April of 1976 and was one of the first youth soccer organizations in San Diego County. At this time in the USA there were only a few professional soccer teams. One of those playing out of San Diego was called the San Diego Jaws, who played in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Escondido Soccer Club was built by pioneers such as John Napier, originally from Northern Ireland, who played for the Jaws just prior to the Escondido club forming. John is a one of the most recognized coaches in California and was recently inducted into the CalSouth Hall of Fame. Today John Napier is the Competitive Administrator.
Dr. Peter Minkoff was also one of the early founders and he and his family are some of the most influential philanthropists in San Diego County. Indeed the ‘Minkoff Stand’ at our local Palomar College graces their family name. Dr. Minkoff today is President and Director of our Competitive Arm and also oversees some fundraising.
As early as 1966, one of our founding fathers, Dave Shelton along with his wife Linda, were recognized by California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA), they received the CYSA Lifetime Honorees Award for their outstanding contributions to youth soccer in our district. Unfortunately Dave passed away on October 28th, 1999. Dave Shelton is also recognized today in our home tournament ‘The Dave Shelton Cup.’ Dave was a great coach and volunteer giver to the youth of Escondido.
And finally, our Director of Coaching, Steve Yorke has worked with the club for many years. Having played for one of the original Escondido teams before Escondido Soccer Club was formed, Steve has moved through the system from recreational coaching to become Director of Coaching in both Recreational and Competitive. He is also our Director of Communications.
All of these members of the board and/or employees of the club have the same interests at heart. To better the lives of the youth of Escondido and her surrounding areas, by using the great sport of soccer as our common interest.
Nate Abaurrea: What are you most proud of in regards to your club?
Steve Yorke: We are proud to say that Escondido Soccer Club and FC Heat work diligently on all aspects of our player’s education. We compete fairly and passionately with good sportsmanship and teamwork. We win with pride and we lose with dignity. We believe that through our coaching methods, our players will reach their full potential both on and off the field. Escondido Soccer Club and FC Heat Elite are in the business of producing decent human beings who have fun and are excellent at playing soccer.
Nate Abaurrea: Tell us a little more about your club’s locale in Escondido, and how it has influenced the makeup and feel of the club.
Steve Yorke: Our home fields consist of 8 full size fields at Ryan Park in Escondido. We practice daily here and we play all of our home games at Ryan Park. Escondido Soccer Club and FC Heat Elite are one of the very few clubs that work from their own facilities in San Diego County.
We are proud to field teams from Under 8 years-old to Under 19 years-old, both boys and girls in our competitive program and even younger in our recreational program.
Our competitive coaches have a wide array of experience, most having played the game at high levels. We have a good cross section of international coaches from countries such as the USA, England, Scotland, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
Our recreational program at Escondido Soccer Club is second to none. In 2016 we fielded over 60 teams who competed in-house for a chance to represent our club in the All-Stars divisions and tournaments. Many of our Elite FC Heat players came through the ranks of our recreational program. In fact you could say that our recreational program is the first step on the ladder, so to speak, as we search for both exceptional players and exceptional coaches with skill and passion within this program.
Our FC Heat competitive coaches work very closely with our recreational coaches, in fact two All-Star coaches moved through to our competitive ranks in 2016. Many of our players from the recreational and All-Star divisions moved through to our competitive ranks also. In 2016, approximately 1600 players played for either Escondido Soccer Club or FC Heat Elite. And in 2017 we are expecting even more.
We are in the process of implementing an educational program within the club to help student players better their education and to qualify for schools of their choice. We are also involved in a nutritional campaign to teach our players proper diet for their growth years in an athletic environment.
Escondido Soccer Club and FC Heat are committed to help improve the lives of our student athletes. It is very important to our coaches and their teaching methods to help keep our players well educated. And that starts with our “common sense” approach when it comes to education.
First of all, in our very younger age groups it is important that the players have time to complete their homework so that they can achieve higher grades.
We employ many high school teachers as coaches who naturally have this educational priority at the forefront of their minds and within their teaching concepts. It is just not good enough for us to have a player achieving great things on the soccer field while failing in school.
At every level in our club our coaches are encouraged to be attentive to the player’s educational needs. We recommend that parents and coaches work together in order to help the player achieve their educational goals.
As we will learn, academics play a big part in the life of every student athlete. In our programs, rewards on the soccer fields are directly associated with achievements both in the classroom and in life in general.
Today Escondido Soccer Club boasts over 60 recreational teams with volunteer coaches, and a further 44 teams in our competitive division with over 20 professional coaches. In the 2016 season FC Heat Elite competitive teams won 64 championships and appeared in 109 finals. We had 7 Divisional Championships with 9 Runners-up. Our G1999 girls’ team just won the Presidential State Cup under Coach Robert Parker. In the last 2 years, 80% of our teams have finished in the top 5 of their respective divisions.
(Stay tuned to SoccerNation.com for the next edition of our Club Spotlight Series, powered by soccerloco.)