Whether it’s a 4-year-old itching to play on her first soccer team, or an 18-year-old wanting to get back on the field after a break from soccer to see old friends, 2,000 children will wear the El Dorado Hills Soccer Club blue and gold uniforms this year.
As competitive tryouts for this year’s teams are under way, EDHSC President Chris Hunt shared some new additions to what he called the “evolution” of a club that’s continued to meet the changing needs of the community it’s served since 1984.
“This is not just a club that started over night,” Hunt said. “We have deep roots here.”
When the club formed 4,000 people lived in El Dorado Hills; today the population is about 40,000. Still, according to Hunt, the core principle of truly being a community organization is something that’s guided EDHSC even as the population has grown.
“We want to make the best experience for our players and one way we do that is by offering them more opportunities,” said Hunt.
Last year EDHSC was granted both U.S. Club and NorCal status, which has elevated EDHSC to a higher level, competitive soccer club than it was before (no more Division 3 or select). There are now many more teams to play against across a wider region, something Hunt said El Dorado Hills parents wanted.
EDHSC currently offers two levels of playing. About 500 kids make up the competitive, or “comp,” teams in the league. Tryouts for younger players were held last month while tryouts for the U12 and U14 boys and girls teams will be held Feb. 23 and 24 at Promontory Park and on an as-needed basis Saturday, March 2. Tryouts will be held for U15 and older players in May. Visit teamsideline.com/edhsc for more information.
Led by Competitive Program Manager Eric Davidson, EDHSC comp team coaches offer “the best of both worlds,” said Davidson. Each team is paired with a licensed parent volunteer as well as a professional trainer. “We provide the emotional investment that can only come from parent coaches,” Davidson explained. “But we also give each comp team a highly licensed trainer who will be equal to or better than any other trainer’s qualifications in a 25 mile radius. It’s a perfect marriage of parents and professional trainers, going full circle back to our community based mission, and it’s probably what I’m most proud of.”
“By having parent volunteer coaches, it also costs one-third as much to be on an EDHSC comp soccer team than it does to be on other comp clubs in the region, which pay all of their coaches,” added Hunt. It costs on average $800 to be on a comp EDHSC team for one season.
Of the 2,000 kids affiliated with EDHSC, 1,500 are on recreational teams. While under the guidance of strictly parent volunteer coaches, licensing is encouraged but not required. “We are very proud of the investment we make in our coaches at every level,” said Hunt. “The club will reimburse any rec parent volunteer who pursues licensing and/or training,” said Hunt.
This year, for the first time, rec coaches will be offered two hours of on-field training. They’ll also be given curriculum to help guide their seasons, much like classroom teachers who work with the same content standards. For instance, a U6 coach will get a list of drills that are great for that age as well as several milestones to meet by the season’s end.
Modeled after the popular annual Little League Day at Town Center, Hunt has also planned the first annual recreational soccer opening day, including a parade, to kick-off the rec season this summer and to recognize the bulk of athletes in the organization.
Whether it’s the 30th year, or even 10 years from now, one thing is certain, said Hunt, “We will always want a strong, healthy club that can allow every kid to have a great experience playing soccer.”