In the late afternoon sun on Monday, coach John Minkstein ran through drills with the 11-and-under girls team at Cunha Intermediate School. They practiced a variety of defensive and offensive formations as well as penalty kicks.
It was the last practice of the week before the club’s spring season kicks off with a weekend tournament in Sunnyvale. With 11 teams competing, the season runs from mid-March to mid-June, and teams usually play about 10 games each season. Some teams will play more depending on tournaments in Salinas, Sacramento and Las Vegas.
“It starts with the younger ones, getting them playing club, developing friendships and as soccer players,” Minkstein said. “Then we get them ready to play at Cunha and then high school. And the ones who want to go to college, you’re setting them up for that stuff.”
Since 1967, the Half Moon Bay Soccer Club has been helping kids with fundamentals and to play at a competitive level while still having fun. The club, which is a part of the Boys and Girls of the Coastside, is typically more competitive and selective than AYSO. Teams compete in the District 2 CalNorth and NorCal Premier Region 2.
The under-8 teams play four-on-four while the U9 and U10 teams are seven-on-seven. The U13 and older division play an 11-player lineup. Last year, Krissi Rolleri’s U12 girls team won the NorCal Premiere Silver division with an 8-1 record. Minkstein’s U11 team made the NorCal State Cup final last fall, playing 21 games in total.
Minkstein and coach Geronimo Jimenez are both longtime Coastsiders and played in the club as kids. Jimenez has been involved in the Coastside’s soccer community since the late 1970s, and this season he’s coaching eighth-grade U14 boys team. He remembers when the fields at Cunha were rough. Now the entire field is playable and all teams benefit.
Jimenez and Minkstein both acknowledged the difficulty of retaining kids as they reach the high school level. But for those fundamental years, the club provides a consistent, friendly, yet competitive atmosphere for those who are dedicated. A key element of the club is that all the volunteer coaches are certified through the U.S. Soccer Federation. Coaches can use the federation’s website to find resources on any kind of drill and tailor it to their team.
“It’s great to see we have professionalism with the coaching now,” said Jimenez, who is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club. “It’s not just team parents coming out and giving them the ball. We have structure, lesson plans, and focus a lot on training.”
Jimenez also spoke of the club’s lasting impact on kids’ friendship and camaraderie. As many of these students are on the brink of transitioning to high school, the teams provide a community.
“It’s nice to see they actually support each other,” Jimenez said. “That’s what happened with the U15 team this year, as a lot of the members played for the (Cougars) junior varsity team this year.”
More information on programs, coaching and dates can be found at hmbsoccerclub.teamsnapsites.com.