The train just keeps on rolling!
SoccerNation is spotlighting youth clubs from all over these United States of America. Powered by soccerloco, the SoccerNation Club Spotlight Series has already taken us all around Southern California and to some very special soccer spots across this great country. From the Hawaiian Islands to the Eastern Seaboard, we are on a mission to showcase the people and organizations helping to build the future of the beautiful game.
Next, we come back a little closer to home, to the northern reaches of San Diego County, Valley Center to be exact. Our own Nate Abaurrea spoke with Manny Maces, the President of Valley Center Youth Soccer, and a coach for Valley Center Hurricanes.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Manny, thank you so much for joining us.
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): My pleasure. Always good to talk about our club and the Valley Center community that we represent.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Well first off, tell us a little about that community. What makes Valley Center special to you and the rest of the folks involved with VC Hurricanes, as well as Valley Center Youth Soccer as a whole?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): Valley Center has always been known as a very tranquil agricultural community. Always small, always a community first mindset, always family oriented. Valley Center has maintained it’s small social culture through it’s various community activities. Our Memorial Day Parade, Rodeo, Farmers Market, Community Theater, and youth sports are the first things that come to mind.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Tell us a little more about the history of youth soccer in this tranquil agricultural community?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): Valley Center Youth Soccer (VCYS) has been around since 1980, starting off with just a few teams. VCYS has now grown so much and has provided thousands of families over the years with quality soccer. In 1991, Coach Mario Cozzi and a small group of players formed the first Valley Center Hurricanes team as a fully competitive outfit. Since that time, Hurricanes has grown to providing 13 teams. Of those 13 teams within the Presidio & SDDA, 6 finished in the top 2 of the rankings in their division.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): What would you say is the mission of your club and the entire youth soccer organization?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): Over the years VCYS and VC Hurricanes have had the honor of providing our youth with quality coaching, mentoring, leadership and family. VCYS, through it’s recreational program, has helped to give our youth the ability to become better people through the game of soccer, and to create friendships that are both valuable and long lasting. Our parents are no different. They have found new friends and cultivated very special relationships with other parents of players within our programs. And within our coaches circle, people have definitely found many friendly rivalries, and an added love of our community. I think all of these things tie back to our mission of giving everything we can to the people of Valley Center.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): What would you say are some of the main challenges your club and VCYS face?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): Some of the challenges that we face in our club is maintaining a steady stream of new younger teams. As of now, our boys and girls 2007 are the youngest teams we provide. Being that we are a completely volunteer based club, finding parents that have the drive, time and knowledge to run a team can definitely be challenging. Another challenge that we have in our community is finding large sponsors. Thanks to the few sponsors that we have and all of our amazing volunteer parents, Hurricanes has been able to provide our families with the most minimal of costs. As other big name clubs charge their families well over $1,000 and have a pay to play mentality, we look to maintain our cost at half that price and still provide a very competitive team. So when we say we are a non profit organization, we truly mean it.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): How would you sum up your relationship with other clubs in the San Diego area and around the Southern California region?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): I think that other clubs sometimes tend to disregard us. We get it though. Being that we are such a small community, not many people outside of North (San Diego) County have heard of us. But to be honest, I think that’s the way we like it. There is nothing like going into a tournament or league play, and a coach or a group of parents asking, “where is Valley Center?” When we tell them it’s just a small rural country community a little northeast of Escondido, they say “Oh, I see. Well, good luck!” It honestly makes us laugh. We get a kick out of that type of stuff. We know who we are, and we’re very proud of who we are.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Who have been some of the main people that have been influential in the growth of this community oriented club in Valley Center?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): It’s interesting, because I’ve actually only been involved with Hurricanes and VCYS for 4 years now. Initially, I just started as a rec coach. Soon after, I was picked up as a Hurricanes coach. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good mentors, not only in the last few years, but throughout my entire life. I was very fortunate with my father, who was our soccer coach growing up. He put me in a good direction with the game and taught me so much.
As a kid, growing up in Escondido and playing on one of those same teams my father coached, I had a teammate named Eli Marin. A few years ago, when I was first getting involved with VCYS, I come to find out that Eli’s a coach with Hurricanes! We hadn’t seen each other in years. It was just a really cool thing that happened. We’d both gone our separate ways out of Escondido, but life ends up coming full circle. Eli now coaches the Boys 04 team, and I coach the Boys 07 team. Him and I always get to talking about philosophy and different approaches within the game of soccer.
We’ve also got a lot of good local icon types, people who are just as humble as anyone while also having that special something to help others. Ruben Martinez is someone that definitely comes to mind. He was part of the very first Hurricanes team, and he’s just continues to step up the ranks as a coach. He’s a great mentor who has assisted us in so many ways. There has also been a lot of people on the referee side from here in Valley Center that do so much for our community. People seem to come back to Valley Center, people that grew up here, leave for a while, then return. There’s something deeper in play there. There’s a reason why people come back. There’s a love and a true loyalty.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Do you think the beauty of this community first approach that you speak of is something that the kids themselves within Hurricanes and VCYS are able to grasp?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): Yes! I really do. We encourage it.
We don’t really recruit players. So often, you see larger clubs trying to pick up kids in various communities, far beyond where the club actually plays. Our goal is keeping it all within our community. Our prices are low so we can include everyone in our community, and be sure that we can maintain these teams.
When these kids go to middle school and play for a middle school soccer team, and it’s the same core. It’s all these kids who’ve grown up playing together with VC Hurricanes. The same holds true all the way through high school. I really think this is understood by our kids, the value of the camaraderie and understanding they find.
Another beautiful thing about this small community and our teams is our parents and families. Every tournament that we go to, we always set up a table and everybody brings something to eat or drink. We end up with a big table full of food and a fun little corner of our own at whatever venue we might be at. It almost turns in to a family camp-out every time we go to a tournament. That’s what we’re all about. It’s one big family.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Manny, it’s been great talking with you. One final question, and it’s one of our favorites here with SoccerNation and soccerloco. What do you love most about the beautiful game?
Manny Maces (Valley Center Hurricanes): I was raised as a very competitive kid, and I love what the game can do for you as a competitor. But I also love what it can do for you in life as a whole. This game can encourage you. It can make you confident and proud when you’re doing things right. It can get you hyped on yourself when you feel like you’re on a hot streak. Then, just as quickly, this game can knock you right back down! That cycle of emotions shows that you need to go work harder. This game can put you in your place, and force you to better yourself. You’ve got some skill at the beginning? Well guess what, if you want to continue rising, you’re gonna come up against a bunch of people with the same skill and likely a lot more. You must continue bettering yourself at all times.
There’s so many life lessons to take away from the game. Everything I just said holds true in the workplace, with family, and in so many other areas. That’s what I love most!
And as a coach, I love that there are these parents that entrust their kids with me, and that I have the honor of treating all of these young soccer players like they’re my own kids. It’s a full circle thing for me and so many other coaches with the game of soccer. It’s all about these kids now, being the best possible coach that I can be, being that mentor if they need it, passing on the beautiful game that we all love and showing them everything that this beautiful game can do.
(Stay tuned to SoccerNation.com for more in our Club Spotlight Series, powered by soccerloco.)