By Vern Hee
They came from all over the country to attend the tournament, more than 400 club soccer teams gathered to play in Las Vegas. Colleges from all over the country, including such disparate schools as Yale University, Alabama University, and almost the entire University of California system to name a few.
The coaching list from the visiting colleges reads like a who’s who in college soccer. This was Las Vegas 2013 Players Showcase.
The number of teams playing soccer games was so immense, it took 11 parks in the Las Vegas area to accommodate all the games.
Coach Joe Sladek of the Pahrump Players Club team said the showcase is the second of three showcases.
“It is one of the largest tournaments in the country for college soccer coaches to come watch players play,” said Sladek. “There is one in Disney World over New Year’s, which is the largest in the country, the one in San Diego and this one that just occurred. These three are the three biggest in the country.”
To Sladek this was his ticket for his daughter, Sydney, to attend college. Sydney, a junior at PVHS, is trying to attend a good school in California.
“To go to school in California it costs money and you need a scholarship,” said Joe. “I am doing this the old-fashioned way. My daughter and I are making contact with coaches on our own and then doing the leg work. If the kids go to the bigger tournaments, the coaches want to see them play. The coaches we are in contact with have seen the kids play numerous times.”
Joe coaches his Players Club team, a private Pahrump club team, which is separate from the Trojans soccer team.
The girls he took all play on other club teams in Las Vegas, but live in Pahrump. He took three juniors, Lexi Smith, Sydney, and Jennifer McCall to the tournament. He is also helping Smith get into a good college.
“All three players got to play three games. Showcases are different than regular tournaments. They get three games, and they let coaches know when they are playing and the coaches come in and watch them play. There were at least 300 coaches on the girls side and at least 200, maybe more on the boys side. They had close to 800 soccer games for this showcase.”
After the games is when the coaches can talk to the players, but there exists a strict set of NCAA rules which the coaches must comply with.
“It depends on how old they are. If they are seniors then the coaches can talk to them right after. When the game is over they usually come over and talk to them. If they are juniors and younger, they usually get contacted by the coach by email.”
Joe is hoping to get the girls committed as juniors by summertime, and he believes it will happen.
“All three are juniors. I am hoping to get them all verbally committed, by the time high school comes around in September. They can not get a written commitment letter until February of next year. Sept. 1, the coaches can contact them more. Bird is getting help from another coach. I hope to have the other two committed by the summer. The coaches can send emails. The kids can visit and that is about the extent of it.”
Colleges have been slowly turning away from just looking at high schools and turning more to club sports to find athletes. Club sports are popular in Las Vegas. There is a club sports team for every high school sport in Las Vegas.