By Ray Hamill — With the Humboldt Youth Soccer League canceled for 2020 and the H-DNL on hold until the new year, opportunities for local soccer players have been limited this year.
Sequoia FC, however, has been providing the chance for at least some local players to get back out on the field since resuming practice on September 1.
And despite the COVID-19 restrictions in place, it’s been a successful return to the practice field, according to the club’s Director of Coaching Trice Smith.
“It’s been good. It’s been really good,” Smith said. “I think the players are getting back into the flow of things and it’s been really good for them to be around each other and interacting with each other.”
The local club, which features boys and girls, currently has close to 100 players on five teams, ranging in age from 6 to high school.
Since being founded seven years ago, the club has provided the foundation for several local players to take their games to the Olympic Development Program, including many of the top players in the H-DNL, as well as giving them exposure to college coaches.
Right now, Sequoia FC features two girls high school aged teams, one boys high school aged team, and two youth teams for players aged 6-9 and 10-12.
The girls program has been up and running for all seven years, while the boys have been a part of the club for just two.
“We’re pretty much the only youth soccer program going on in the area right now,” Smith said.
Practices have been following state and county health guidelines, with social distancing and other protocols in place, and have included a lot of individual training.
Soccer, however, is a sport that allows some interaction between players while still maintaining social distancing, most notably passing drills.
“I’m a nut for passing drills,” Smith said with a chuckle. “And this allows me to work on the thing I love.”
After such a long layoff for the players, with almost all local sports activities on hold for much of the past six months, Smith admits he has been taking it slowly with the players since their return.
“We want to kind of ease the kids back into it,” the former Humboldt State player said.
For now, all games in the state remain on hold, although Smith is planning ahead and has registered the club to play in the NorCal Premier this year, if and when they are given the go-ahead.
Sequoia FC regularly plays at college showcase events, giving the local players a chance to be seen by college coaches, but for now there is a recruiting freeze in place with no showcase tournaments scheduled until at least the new year.
“We would have played our first game right around now, but obviously things have been pushed back a ways,” Smith said.
For now, however, the coaches and their players are happy to be back out on the field in any capacity.
“We’ve had a lot of good feedback,” Smith said.
For more on the local soccer club, visit their website here.