For nearly 40 years, Coronado Youth Soccer has been a staple of youth sports among the Coronado Community. Supplying many kids in the Coronado community the opportunity to learn, grow, and play soccer at the recreational and competitive level. But like so many youth programs around the city of Coronado, Coronado FC was struck hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Financially, we were hit hard by the whole situation,” said Club President Cindi Gehler. “We have three key areas of our soccer program: Our recreational soccer, which occurs on an annual basis with two seasons per year. We have our competitive FC teams, which is more expensive due to having to contract out coaches. And lastly, we have our tournaments like the Crown Classic. When covid hit, we had to shut down everything.”
Unfortunately for Coronado Youth Soccer, their recreation league, which hosts about 500 players each season, has still been unable to return, according to Gelher. Due mainly to the lack of field availability at Tidelands Park and the Coronado Cays. However, while Coronado Youth Soccer cannot have a full spring season, they had created an alternative to keep players active.
“We are doing four-week sessions where kids from the age group of 2010-2017 meet once a week can practice. These are held down in the Coronado Cays, and we move them so that they are around our competitive (FC) practice times.”
According to Gehler, when soccer does return to play, the club anticipates some changes to game day routines. “When a player comes on or off the field, they’ll have to have a mask on. Any player on the sidelines will be required to wear a mask. Secondly, there will be a limit on the number of parents and spectators allowed, and they will have to sit on the opposite side of the field of the players.”
Fortunately for the program’s competitive team Coronado FC, they were placed under the umbrella of CUSD and were allowed to practice under extremely tight COVID-19 regulations. Even after the long break that the club had to take, it was clear that many members of Coronado FC were eager to return to the pitch sooner rather than later. I asked President Gehler if she had any worries of players not returning due to concerns about the Coronavirus. “We have not seen any drop off of players. From my conversations with parents and those who have come to training, we have seen a 92 percent return rate. However, with other sports resuming, we may see some drop off as many of our players are multisport athletes.”
A popular trend for many competitive soccer clubs has been traveling to states such as Arizona and Nevada, states that have been open for youth sports and for tournaments. However, Coronado FC opted not to follow this trend in the effort to protect its players. “Our players and parents are eager to get back out there. But we wanted to do it safely. If one of our completive teams wanted to travel out of state, they would have to run it by our admin board for approval. We did have one team request approval, but they ultimately receded their request.”
These safe conditions are somethings that Gehler and the rest of the Coronado Youth Soccer program have taken great pride in; as Gehler told me, “Our players, and Coaches have all been extremely cautious, and it shows. We have not had a single positive covid case in over 1,200 practices. There is nothing that we take more seriously than our player’s safety and health.”
Coronado Youth Soccer is one of the many local youth sports that have done their best to continue to provide kids with the opportunity to play sports. Even in the most difficult of circumstances. They have provided kids in the community a place where they can feel normal again. Even if just for an hour. And it appears the Clubs dedication to player safety and patience will soon pay off. As with the California State Health Department’s new guidelines, it may just be a few more weeks until Coronado Youth can return to play again.