Youth soccer clubs to merge into valley-wide operation |

Youth soccer clubs to merge into valley-wide operation

David L'Heureux
Special to the Daily The Vail Valley Soccer Club's U-11 team is currently undefeated in the Western Slope State League and has already clinched the league title.

It’s an exciting time for soccer in Eagle County from East Vail to Gypsum.The valley’s two mainstays for youth soccer are merging. The Eagle County Youth Sport Club and the Vail Valley Soccer Club will be joining to field teams for the fall season. The new club will keep the VVSC name, but will now be a true, valley-wide operation.The reasons for the merger are numerous, according to EVYSC founder Mike Shea.”I coach the U-14 team, the Eagle Cyclones, and they have become a valley-wide club,” said Shea. “The success they have had was kind of model for what this club could be if we joined forces.”The merger will make the VVSC a more diverse, and ultimately, more competitive club. Each age group will be able to field A- and B-teams that will be better-suited to handle state-wide competition.

“We are playing teams from Denver that have up to five teams in each age group,” said Shea, who admits that losing has been a reality for many valley teams when playing front range teams. “We are excited to bring all of our talent together and show that this valley can compete state-wide.”The A- and B- teams will allow for more kids to be on the field playing.”Now, you will have kids that might have been coming off the bench before, who will have an opportunity to start,” said Shea. The bigger numbers will enable VVSC to keep costs and fees reasonable, too, added Shea. The club’s A-team will compete primarily against Front Range clubs, and the B-team will play a slightly less-competitive Western Slope schedule.Regardless of which team they are watching, “people are going to see a high level of soccer being played,” said Shea.The mission of the club will remain the same: Teach kids the game of soccer and have fun.”We are a non-profit business striving to provide the best possible platform for soccer players to have fun, compete and move forward with top-class training into high school and college soccer programs,” said VVSC administrative director and coach Lee Jones.

On that note, the newly-formed club made another addition. They have hired Gavin Tait to be its director of coaching. Tait, who hails from England, spent the last 20 years as a youth talent scout and academy-level director for Championship and Premiership League teams. “So far, I’m impressed with the attitude I have seen from the coaches here,” said Tait. “They seem to want to learn more, too.”That should pay immediate dividends for every player and coach in the organization. Among the clubs Tait has worked for are Cardiff City, Sunderland F.C. and most recently, Chelsea F.C., which won England’s Premiership Title last season. His desire to try something new is what led him to the Eagle Valley.”The practice and training facilities here are amazing,” said Tait. “Just driving through and seeing soccer fields everywhere, and kids kicking the ball about was exciting for me. There is a real enthusiasm for the game here.”Tryouts will be held duirng the weeks of May 16, and May 23 at Miller Ranch in Edwards. VVSC is also planning to deliver presentations to the Hispanic community and local schools in order to further the reach of soccer in the community. Any player who would like to try out for a team, or inquire about financial aid, is encouraged to call the VVSC Office at 845-5022. Office hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 3-7 p.m.Vail, Daily

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