Soccer

The Pink Tigers accessorized with gold trophies. 

Music thumped. Parents swayed. And children flashed quick smiles when handed trophies. The occasion was the Yucaipa Valley Youth Soccer Organization closing ceremonies Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Rick McCown Soccer Complex on Oak Glen Road. A near-full moon helped illuminate the field and crisp weather made the hundreds in attendance bundle up. “It’s an awards ceremony,” explained coach Ryan Estopinal. “The first- and second-place teams in the league get trophies and the board is introduced. Everyone comes together to promote soccer.” Estopinal does his part. He coached the U10 Pink Tiger girls’ team and took over the U12 Green Goblins boys’ team when the regular coach became ill. There were also raffles, with Estopinal snagging a $100 gift card for his trouble. “We bonded together,” said Estopinal’s 10-year-old son Carter, who mentioned a teammate scoring on a “double meg” as a highlight. That teammate was 12-year-old Nathan Messmer and a “double meg” was described as kicking the ball through the legs of two players and into the goal. Hmmm. You learn something new ev-ery day. More than 800 players compete in the league, said new director of volunteers and communications Ashley Rose. Her son, Jaxon Rose, played for the U10 Devils. “It was good,” Jaxon said of the season. “I like being with my friends. They’re funny and kind.” Yucaipa has so many players and teams that it does not need to involve children nor teams from other cities, Ashley Rose said. There were 16 squads in the U10 league alone. Soccer dad Mark Cortez was the Deejay for the event and cued up the old Queen standard “We are the Champions” near the end. “I like to bring the fun,” said Cortez who rocked a bit of hip-hop attire as he made musical selections. Meantime, trophies by the armful were distributed by league president Bill Moreno. A knot of parents and players from the U12 Big Shots lingered until the end. Ten-year-old Ariana Burns appeared happy as she clutched her gleaming gold trophy. “It was good,” Ariana said of the season. “I played coed and all my teammates were boys. They teased me a little bit but when we raced (in practice) I won.” Former women’s soccer legend Brandi Chastain would approve.

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