By DAVE THOMAS | La Mesa Courier
It is not every day that a young soccer player gets to pack their bags and head off to the nation’s 50th state.
That said, this is exactly what a young group of La Mesa area girls are doing as June comes to an end.
The La Mesa AYSO girls’ under-12 team was drawn in a national lottery (National AYSO) to see what regions, age ranges, and genders get the nod to go to the National Games (June 30–July 7), according to parent Cara Hinchman.
“Invitations to try out for the team were open to all girls that played in the fall 2018 La Mesa AYSO U12 girls core (non-club level) program,” Hinchman commented. “There are 12 players comprising our national team. Most are from the La Mesa area, though some are from outside La Mesa, but all East County.”
As with any big undertaking such as this one, fundraising plays a key role in making sure the kids can travel. When the travel involves a destination as far away as Hawaii, you can bet some funds need to be raised.
“Our team started fundraising in December by running a coffee cart and snack bars at various soccer tournaments, hosting restaurant fundraisers at multiple restaurants in La Mesa, holding a rummage sale, and a raffle for SeaWorld tickets,” Hinchman pointed out. “The kids were the main workers for the snack bars and rummage sale; parents just supervised to make sure all was going well.”
It should not come as a big surprise that there is a fair amount of interest in soccer in the La Mesa area, especially when it comes to kids.
According to Hinchman, the La Mesa AYSO serves some 1,000 East County residents on a yearly basis.
AYSO is an all-volunteer organization, dedicated to developing and educating young people by encouraging their interest and participation in soccer. In AYSO, everyone plays, teams are balanced, registration is open to all children between the ages of 4 1/2 and 18, and good sportsmanship is a primary goal enabled by positive coaching.
For now, though, the focus is on Hawaii.
According to coaches John Butcher and Al Watson, the young ladies have been working very hard over the last seven months in their preparation for playing in Hawaii. They added that it has been fun to watch the girls grow as a team. Both point out that it will be fun to see how the girls stack up against teams from all over the country.
Butcher and Watson also wanted to be clear that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at the highest competition level for youth core AYSO. Experiencing all Hawaii has to offer isn’t too bad either.
For any parents and kids looking to find out more about registration info for the team, visit LaMesaAYSO.org.
Hinchman added that volunteers are always needed and highly encouraged to coach, referee, organize picture day, be a team parent, and other various positions.
As he pointed out, volunteers make the program what it is.
With that being said, let the games begin.
— Dave Thomas is a San Diego-based freelance sports writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.