It's hard to imagine, but the Comstock Shootout has really outgrown Carson City's facilities.
The annual youth soccer tournament, which has consistently been either the state's largest youth sporting event or at least one of Nevada's largest youth sporting events, will kick off this weekend with the girls event on Saturday and Sunday. Then the following weekend, the boys will hold their tournament on April 26 and 27.
Teams from Northern Nevada, Southern Nevada, California, Idaho and Oregon will compete in divisions from 10 and under to 19 and under. Each weekend, the tournament will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.
A total of 12 fields - the 10 fields at Edmonds Park and two fields set up at Mills Park - are used for the event. This weekend, 104 girls teams will compete and 10 other clubs were turned away. Eighty-five boys teams will compete the following weekend, so a total of 189 teams will play in the tournament.
Two long-time area coaches - Joe Briggs and Ralph Johnson - are directing the tournament. Briggs, who is Carson High's junior varsity boys soccer coach, is directing the girls event while Johnson is directing the boys event.
The number of teams in the tournament tends to depend on what the weather was like the year before. Since the weather has been nice in recent years, the number of teams has increased.
But Northern Nevada weather is always unpredictable and the girls teams competing this weekend could face tough conditions. The forecast calls for cold, windy conditions and even a chance of snow.
Briggs said the tournament was broken up into two weekends to accommodate more teams. Briggs said tournament organizers may face looking at alternatives to accomodate even more teams.
"The potential to grow is definitely there," Briggs said. "If we had more fields we could actually accommodate more teams.
"It would definitely allow the tournament to grow. The hinderance is the number of fields."
While nothing has been seriously discussed, Briggs said, he did say expanding the tournament to outlying areas or using Carson High's soccer field could be alternatives. With the field turf being installed at Carson High's football stadium, using that field for the Comstock Shootout could be another alternative, Briggs said.
But by no means is Briggs complaining, noting that Edmonds Park is the reason why Carson City can host the event in the first place.
"It's still the premiere place in Northern Nevada," Briggs said. "It accommodates 96 teams. It's still a great place to play."
The Comstock Shootout is a combined effort of Carson City's American Youth Soccer Organization and the Capital Soccer Club. The event is a major fund-raiser for both organizations. With numerous teams from out of the area bringing a number of people to the tournament, the event is also obviously a big economic boost to the community.
The tournament is open to AYSO, United States Youth Soccer Association and U.S. Club teams. Briggs said this year's tournament is evenly split between AYSO all-star and USYSA and U.S. Club teams. "The level of play is going up every year," Briggs said.
Briggs said along with the play of club players rising, the level of play of players from more recreation-oriented programs continues to rise.
A new feature this year is short-sided games for younger players. All 10 and under contests will be 7-on-7 games while the 12 and under division will feature 9-on-9 and full roster 11-on-11 games.
Briggs said the short-sided games allows players to touch the ball more. "It's definitely a good thing," said Briggs about the short-sided games. "It definitely helps them become better players."
With a tournament this size, a large number of volunteers and officials are need to run the tournament and Briggs also said that the Carson City Recreation Department is also extremely helpful in putting on the event.