By Cristian Ponce | Special to the Almanac
More than 200 kids, ages 8 to 19, with the Menlo Park-Atherton AYSO program competed in the Pacific Coast Spring Soccer League and their teams brought home lots of medals.
The local program, with 16 teams in different age categories, competed in seven tournaments from January through May. "With the size of our (league), we're one of the most competitive regions in Northern California," said Kent Perkocha, director of the spring league for Menlo Park-Atherton AYSO.
The results, Perkocha said, were "fantastic," with all teams walking away with tournament medals.
The season started strong as the girls-under-12 team named Massacre, coached by Perkocha as well as Scott Lessing and Michael Linnert, won the President's Cup in San Jose.
In April, Massacre and the boys-under-10 team named Red Dynamite took home medals at the Palo Alto Invitational.
The season wrapped up in May at the Davis World Cup, which draws 134 teams from throughout California on Memorial Day weekend. Red Dynamite took first place and these teams BU10 White, BU10 Black, GU10 Flames and GU10 Firebolts won medals as well.
Joanne Goldberg, registrar for Menlo Park-Atherton AYSO, said the fact that kids are returning year after year instead of exiting for club soccer has helped the program grow.
"The first year we participated, our teams got killed," she said. "As the years have gone by, our teams have gotten much stronger."
AYSO was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles. The Menlo Park-Atherton program traces back to 1968.
AYSO is an inclusive program for both children and parent volunteers in that anyone can participate, Perkocha said.
A challenge to AYSO and other sports programs is the shortage of playing fields, Goldberg said. "It's going to be interesting going forward with more kids and more sports," she said. "We're kind of out of space."
Perkocha said he expects the program to keep growing because of the increasing popularity of soccer. "A lot of the players and their families watch the college games, watch the Earthquakes, watch the national team on TV," he said.
Go to www.mpsoccer.org for more information.