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Cache Valley Cup continues to grow

This year's tourney features 187 teams

Playing in the Cache Valley Cup Soccer TournamentBy Jason Turner
Herald Journal
(Click Here to read the story on their site)

Much like the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, the Cache Valley Cup has grown substantially over the past five years.

More than 3,100 kids between the ages of 9 and 18 will be competing in the valley’s largest annual soccer tournament. The eighth installment of the Cache Valley Cup kicked off Wednesday and will continue through Saturday.

“Over the last five years, we’ve went from just over 70 teams to 187 teams this year,” said Terri Baker, who is instrumental in organizing the tourney. “The growth is unbelievable and, I mean, there’s 40 more teams than last year. We’ve never seen growth like this. It’s just kind of amazing.”

All 187 teams are guaranteed three matches against fellow clubs from primarily Cache Valley to Salt Lake County. There are a handful of teams from outside the Beehive State at the Cup, including the Rexburg, Idaho-based Madison United Club.

The tournament is organized, run and sponsored by Northern Utah United (NUU) which, up until a year ago, was known as District 7. NUU’s primary purpose is to organize youth soccer for those residing in Cache and Box Elder counties at all levels of play.
“We have more out-of-valley teams than we’ve ever had before,” said Baker, who is the NUU’s programs administrator.

To accommodate the 3,000-plus players, this year’s Cache Valley Cup is spread out over 14 different fields at four different venues. The tourney is headquartered at Cedar Ridge Middle School (65 N. 200 West) in Hyde Park, with fields also being used at Sky View High School, Mount Logan Middle School and the Black Hawk complex.
Each division is organized in a pool-play format, with the top two teams — based on a points system — advancing to the championship showdown on Saturday. Each team is allowed to have up to 18 players on its roster.

The tourney kicked off Wednesday from 4-9 p.m., continues today from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will resume Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday’s title matches will be contested in the morning and early afternoon.

The Cache Valley Cup is now one of the biggest tournaments in Utah and strongly suggests just how popular the sport is in the valley.

“Our numbers are massive here in Cache Valley,” Baker said. “There are probably 4,000-6,000 kids that are playing annually here.”

There are several reasons as to why soccer is so well-received in this community, Baker asserted.

“What I like about soccer is that there’s a place for any kid of any temperament on a soccer field,” Baker said. “If you’re a passive kid, there’s a place for you; if you’re an aggressive kid, there’s a place for you; if you’re a really fast runner, there’s a place for you; if you’re not so fast, we’ve still got a place for you in soccer. I mean, grass, gravel, beach, three players, 10 players, you can accommodate almost every situation which, I think, is why the sport is growing so much.”

Arguably the most anticipated event of the Cache Valley Cup takes place Friday evening. That’s when the team dinner, carnival — e.g. raffles, inflatable bounce houses — and coaches vs. referees game is held. This year’s festivities will take place at Sky View.

The team dinner is free of charge for coaches and players from all 187 teams. Pizza Hut and Casper’s are providing the food for the dinner, which is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. Parents and siblings will also get fed for $3 a plate.

“It’s a cool thing to see how many kids are there and the camaraderie,” Baker said of the Friday night activities. “It’s quite an event.”

There are two coaches vs. referees matches this year — a less-competitive game at 7:30 and a more-competitive and longer match an hour later — and this is something Baker always looks forward to.

The referees have emerged victorious over the coaches in all but one of the seven matches, including a 2-1 win in 2011.

“It’s an exhibition for the kids, to watch what their coaches can do and let the referees get a little bit (of revenge) back,” Baker said with a chuckle. “It’s been a great thing, and you can’t believe the talent that comes and plays in these games. It’s just amazing.”

Countless hours were spent organizing the tournament by Northern Utah United board members Sherri Dever, Toni Doney, Shauna Espinoza, Dale Baker and Jeff Ginn, plus NUU president Russ Austin and vice president Scott Jones. Cassie Baker, Katie Hollingsworth and Gary Wiser were also paramount in making this tourney a reality, Terri Baker said.

Terri Baker also made it a point to thank the Infinity Soccer Club for its help in putting on the Cup.

Picture: Infinity's Richardo Quhel, 12, heads up the field during a Cache Valley Cup match at Cedar Ridge Middle School in Hyde Park Wednesday. (Jennifer Meyers/Herald Journal)
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