Established in 1970, Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks remain a mainstay in the Southern California soccer world. Five years ago, Warren Barton joined DMCV Sharks. Since then, he’s been helping the Sharks continue to grow and improve. Sharks have a thriving recreational youth program, and they have teams in various competitive SoCal leagues, including ECNL.
I wanted to learn more about Sharks and why they decided to join ECNL, so I sat down with Barton to talk about all thing Sharks.
An interview with Warren Barton of DMCV Sharks
SN: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk! Can you tell me how you ended up here in San Diego?
WB: Sure. My family moved to San Diego in 2008. I retired from EPL (English Premier League) in 2005, and I got UEFA Pro Coaching License. That’s the highest coaching license you can get in Europe. Really, I could have coached anywhere. We moved to the USA with three young boys in 2008 because I wanted my family to live here.
“Part of the beauty in American youth soccer that you don’t see in Europe is playing for your school.”
SN: What is it about American soccer culture that drew you here?
WB: Part of the beauty in American youth soccer that you don’t see in Europe is playing for your school. Representing your school. Playing with your friends and against your friends. Representing your community as teenager. It’s so uniquely American. Playing for your school is so important. I wanted my boys to have that, and I wanted to be a part of coaching that, too.
SN: Playing for your school doesn’t happen in Europe?
WB: In Europe, it doesn’t matter as much. It’s not as prestigious. Sure, there are school teams, but it’s just not as important in the communities. It’s something uniquely American. Playing for your school and your community makes you better, and it’s just fun.
SN: Interesting. Gatorade recognizes the value of playing high school sports. To win Gatorade player of the year, you have to play for your school. (Abby Wombach discusses that here).
WB: Exactly. Playing for your school doesn’t make you a weaker player. It makes you a better and more well-rounded player.
Why did Sharks join ECNL?
SN: Is that why Sharks decided to join the ECNL? So the players could play for their high school?
WB: It’s a big reason, but not the only reason. ECNL is touching every base. Exposure is getting better. Showcases are amazing. The league is thriving. And, the ECNL agrees with our philosophy that soccer is all about community.
WB: The DA [US Soccer Development Academy] was already full. We’re too close to Surf & Albion. There are DA rules about how many clubs can be in a certain region. But even if we had been able to join the DA, we still would have gone with ECNL.
SN: Interesting. You still would have chosen ECNL? Why is that?
WB: Because Sharks are all about community, and that falls more in line with ECNL’s philosophy, too. The ECNL allows for great soccer at a very high level and great exposure for our players. Plus, the ECNL allows us to put a big emphasis on community.
Sharks is so much about the community. We’re not just about winning and recruiting.Warren Barton
WB: Sharks is so much about the community. We’re not just about winning and recruiting. My U14s are top in the region, and we have eight kids that came through the Sharks Rec program. That shows that we have built a community. It’s all about community. School. Club. Families. Making your community better and having a good time with good people along the way.
WB: Shannon [DMCV Sharks DOC & US Soccer legend, Shannon MacMillan] and I have always had that philosophy. At the end of the day, it’s about community and the families. Giving the kids a program with great coaches. Not everyone wants to play college. D1 isn’t for everyone. But if you can enjoy the game and reach for the highest level you can reach, that’s great.
“Being an athlete is great, but education is more important.”
SN: You mentioned D1 soccer. How important is education to you, not just college soccer?
WB: Education is the most important thing. Being an athlete is great, but education is more important. That’s what we emphasize to all of our players at Sharks. And that’s a big emphasis for ECNL, too.
SN: The Boys ECNL is relatively new. When did you join the boys ECNL?
WB: The Girls ECNL is on a level with the DA when it comes to showcases and college exposure. ECNL on the girls side is so successful, so we knew they’d do a good job on the boys side. We were a part of the Boys ECNL from day one.
SN: Is the Boys ECNL as strong as the girls when it comes to college recruiting and competitive level?
WB: There’s still room for improvement on the boys’ side, but that’s understandable. The girls’ ECNL has made great strides, and the boys’ side will, too.
SN: Do college coaches come to recruit at the Boys ECNL events?
WB: College coaches have limited resources and can’t recruit everywhere, of course. We have kids at Sharks who have been recruited at every college level. Word is getting out that college coaches need to look at boys ECNL.
“I don’t know any other club in the country that have a World Cup winner and Olympian, and a coach who played in the EPL and represented his country with the highest pro license.”Warren Barton
WB: Another thing to remember is that Shannon and I have the connections and relationships that get college coaches to our games. I don’t know any other club in the country that has a World Cup winner and Olympian, and a coach who played in the EPL and represented his country with the highest pro license. Sure, DA may get the most D1 coaches, at their boys events especially. But if we have players at Sharks who deserve a good look, the coaches listen to us and come to our games, or training sessions, or even our friendlies.
“ECNL is very picky about who they let in.”
SN: In my latest interview about the ECNL & DA [HERE], I explain how the ECNL allows more freedom for each individual club to run their day-to-day operations. Would you say that’s accurate? How does that help Sharks teams and families, while still providing a very high level training environment?
WB: ECNL is very picky about who they let in. My boys train four days a week. They won’t let in a club that’s going to be lazy. ECNL chooses club teams with a high level. Clubs must be well run. It’s not one size fits all, but you must be able to compete at a very high level to join ECNL. Joining ECNL isn’t easy.
ECNL Recruiting Showcases
SN: Can you talk a little bit about the ECNL college recruiting events? They seem amazing.
WB: Yeah. ECNL has been working really hard to get college coaches out. They work with the college coaches to schedule the times and locations so they can accommodate college coaches. The games are at such a high level. Coaches are treated really well, too. ECNL knows that it’s a community. The environment really is really upbeat and all about teams. Fun team stuff is happening all the time. Instagram challenges, recovery sessions. Sure, the recruiting is about individuals. But ECNL really tries to allow the teams to have a great time together. It’s not about one player eventually making it to the MLS top team to play with Zlatan.
“The best choice is different for everybody.”
SN: D1 soccer isn’t for everyone, of course. Is that part of the beauty of ECNL? Do you see a lot of mid-major D1, D2, and D3 recruiting at ECNL events?
WB: The days have gone where you could say “This is the way is best.” Soccer in America used to be cookie-cutter, but that’s gone. That’s a good thing. There are great options out there. You look at what’s best for your family, your kid, your team. The best choice is different for everybody.
WB: Really, I could have coached anywhere. I could have stayed at LA Galaxy or any other big club. Sharks is perfect for me because I love the focus on community. When you pay so much money, you want good coaching. And, you are going to be spending a lot of time with these people. You want it to be enjoyable.