Mad River United keeping costs down for local players

Submitted photo – The Mad River United players on their first day of practice when they took a run through Arcata Community Forest.

By Ray Hamill — A group of local soccer moms and dads are working together to re-establish Mad River United as a more affordable brand of club soccer here in Humboldt County.

And they’ll get their first taste of competitive action at the upcoming Rogue River Memorial Tournament in Medford in a few weeks.

“Mad River United has had a competitive travel program for soccer for kids off and on for the last two decades,” coach Ben Okin said. “We have a group of kids and parents that are more volunteered based, and we don’t have some of the fees associated with some of the soccer clubs.”

Right now, Mad River United has just one U12 team for boys, although they may add more teams in the future depending on interest from local players and parents willing to volunteer their time.

And Okin stresses the idea behind the club is not to showcase their players for possible soccer college scholarships, but to expose them to a competitive level of the sport while building their appreciation of the game, and that “we encourage our kids to play other sports.”

“It really is a gift,” he said of soccer. “They can use it to connect with all types of people all over the world.”

The cost of travel team sports can be particularly expensive with the additional travel costs associated with living in Humboldt, and that’s something Mad River United is trying to combat.

“What we’re trying to do is create an affordable high quality program for kids and trying to keep the fees as low as possible,” Okin said. “If you live in Humboldt, the travel is the most expensive part, and hopefully with fundraising we can eliminate some of that too.”

Okin and fellow coach Travis James have coached many of the team’s players for several years and believe they have a solid core of quality players that have grown together.

They’re also hoping to add some more players to the roster, which practices twice a week.

Brian Blackburn also coaches the team.

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Categories: Community, Soccer, Youth sports

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