It’s hard not to be impressed by the winning records of the Carson Futbol Club (CFC). But if you talk to the coaches themselves, they’ll tell you the club means so much more than trophies, though trophies are always nice.
“It works pretty much like a family,” said Frank Martinez, coach of the boys CFC team Pumas Elite. “The main thing is to guide these boys to be better people and better men.”
Martinez was one of the founding members of the CFC in 2009. He himself grew up in South Lake Tahoe and played varsity soccer at Whittell High School before graduating in 1991.
“I never had the opportunity to go to the next level in soccer, no one to guide me,” he said.
That’s what he wants to give his boys — the kind of structure that cultivates teamwork, dedication and a sense of purpose.
The results speak for themselves. Seven of Martinez’s Pumas players play varsity soccer for Carson High — where Martinez is also assistant coach — and clinched the high school regional and state titles last year. His club team has won 17 tournaments in the last seven years. A number of his players are currently in Mexico trying out for pro teams.
“The biggest reason we won the state championship is that we’ve had most of these boys since they were little — a tight-knit community,” Martinez said.
As an organization, CFC makes a point of offering affordable club fees. Martinez works with several players from underprivileged neighborhoods in the capital city.
“Most of my boys have a really good shot at playing soccer in college,” he said. “Win or lose, they’re respectful and play with honor.”
Jerry Meyer, also a founding member, shares Martinez’s spirit of camaraderie in coaching the CFC girls team Wolfpack.
“The relationships go far beyond soccer,” he said. “We’ve been able to invest in these kids and watch them develop into quality people.”
Meyer said the club environment nurtures a special kind of leadership.
“Something that’s not reproducible in other scenarios,” he said.
As in the case of the Pumas, the Wolfpack’s results speak for themselves. The team is the top-rated girls soccer team in Northern Nevada and in the top 100 competitive club teams in the country, Meyer said. They’ve won more than two dozen tournaments, have contributed six players to the state and regional Olympic development programs, and currently have several players fielding scholarship offers from major Division I colleges.
“They’re fairly unstoppable,” Meyer said. “They step up and reach higher levels of play because of what they’re willing to commit.
It’s not just the older players who are performing so well.
Paul Taggart is coach of CFC’s 12 year-old boys team, the Elite.
“I can’t say enough about the boys on our team,” he said. “They grow as soccer players and as young men before our eyes.”
The Elite finished second in its division this spring and won multiple tournaments in the past year.
“We are always looking for young players to add to our team and to have fun playing soccer,” Taggart said. “Even though we are competitive, I really want to keep soccer fun for the kids.”
Miya MacKenzie is assistant coach and manager of the younger CFC girls team, Boom, which recently won the Wild West Shootout Tournament hosted by CFC at the Pete Livermore Sports Complex.
“The club is really bringing a focus to youth soccer,” MacKenzie said.
She pointed to CFC’s Wild West Shootout which has grown from 40 participating teams last year to more than 70 teams this year.
“The level of play is incredible,” she said.
She also mentioned CFC Boom’s head coach Brenda Luquin, a former Carson High School and college soccer player who’s making remarkable improvements in the girls’ soccer skills.
MacKenzie herself remembers growing up in Carson City in the 1980s before organized soccer really took root. Now she, Meyer, Martinez and Taggart all have their own kids in the club program. So does CFC Shock coach Dwight Millard, Jr., another Carson High graduate who has a son playing for him.
This family dynamic makes each team’s development extra meaningful.
“Besides getting great exercise, learning how to play on a team is really important for success later in life,” MacKenzie said.
CFC is hosting 2016/2017 team tryouts 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, June 24 at the Pete Livermore Sports Complex. Check-in will be from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Players are expected to wear cleats and shin guards.
“This is an official tryout, so be ready to play your hardest,” MacKenzie said.
For more information about tryouts or CFC, visit http://carsonfc.org/.