Meet the New NorCal Clubs: Part 1
With last week’s announcement that NorCal Premier Soccer will welcome 11 new clubs into its competitions for the fall 2022 season, we’ve decided to give a brief overview of each new club as a way of welcoming them into the NorCal family.
Today we preview the first five clubs: Aptos SC, Arden Park SC, Contra Costa Youth SC, Cruizers FC, and FC Fresno Academy. Check back tomorrow for the last six.
Founded more than two decades ago in the Monterey Bay area, Aptos SC is a 750-player recreational and competitive club based in Region 2.
As one of three new member clubs in Santa Cruz County, Aptos SC is expected to add nearly 20 new competitive teams to the Region 2 playing leagues, ensuring that NorCal is able to continue to provide an appropriate level of competition to its clubs whilst reducing unnecessary travel for players and families.
This volunteer-run program has nearly 700 players, with about one-third competitive and the rest recreational.
“We give many children their first introduction to soccer in a community-driven organization, one that is affordable, fun, and inclusive,” said Aptos DOC Ed Watson. “Aptos Soccer Club is excited to now be part of the NorCal family, to learn from the other clubs and coaches, and to be part of an organization that listens and collaborates with its member clubs.
Arden Park SC
Nearing its 60th anniversary, Arden Park SC is one of two Sacramento-area clubs joining NorCal Premier Soccer for the upcoming season. With more than 1,000 players registered each year, Arden Park fields more than 100 teams from the U6-U19 age groups.
Forgoing the traditional pay-to-play model, Arden Park SC provides an affordable way for kids in Sacramento to fall in love with the beautiful game.
“Our core belief is that soccer should be fun and that proper player development includes proper challenges,” said club Vice President Allen Hodge. “Without this, players struggle to excel. This was one of the driving factors to gain membership with NorCal Premier. We needed to be able to offer the next level of competition to our players.
“Our club is focused, not on getting bigger, but rather on getting better and doing more for our players and the community,” Hodge added. “Our focus is to improve the player’s experience first before we look to grow the program.”
Contra Costa Youth SC
Located in Pittsburg, Contra Costa Youth SC is one of the newer clubs in the state, having just been established in 2016. With 10 teams in the U8-U19 age groups, as well as a strong recreational program, CCYSC is one of the up-and-coming clubs in the East Bay.
“We are really excited to be accepted into NorCal,” said club President Rhin Lal. “We pride ourselves on being able to always provide a place for players to enjoy playing soccer – (joining NorCal is) a great opportunity to develop our club and to be a bigger presence in our local community.
“We are really looking forward to the level and the standard of competition that NorCal provides and the chance for our players and coaches to learn, develop, and grow in that environment,” Lal added.
Named after the iconic Modesto Cruising painting in local legend George Lucas’ classic 1973 film American Graffiti, Cruizers FC is one of the newer clubs founded in the soccer hotbed that is Modesto.
Created by Ivan Vovk, a former semi-pro player, and Rudy Gonzalez, who obtained a UEFA “A” License during a two year stint in which he worked in the youth setup in the Andalusian province of Spain, Cruizers’ goal is to create a comprehensive development program with a clear path to its players eventually playing college soccer.
“Our club supports top performance youth athletes’ full professional development by offering the opportunity to learn, polish, and exhibit their skills at the semi-pro level and compete at the highest level nationally and abroad,” Gonzalez said. “Simultaneously, Cruizers concentrates on developing each players’ human values to form skilled, responsible, hard-working players and trustworthy citizens.
“The ultimate goal for our athletes is to have a solid soccer foundation and to represent positive and exceptional social values in all other aspects of their lives,” Gonzalez added.
FC Fresno Academy
Founded just under two years ago FC Fresno Academy currently operates teams in seven different age groups out of Miramonte Elementary School in Clovis. Though they’re a relatively new outfit, FC Fresno has already established relationships with the likes of Dinamo Zagreb, Real Betis, and Benfica.
“Our core philosophies are to focus on the development of our players, provide our players with the right tools to enjoy and improve in the game of soccer, and to make a solid contribution to the growth of youth soccer in our community,” said DOC and President Carlos Velasco.
“FC Fresno Academy is excited to be a part of NorCal Premier,” he added. “We believe that competing in (NorCal) will allow our players to compete at a higher level and our club to be exposed to higher standards. We look forward to our league games, State Cup competition, as well as to NorCal tournaments.”