The JIYSC’s girls U-13 soccer team triumphed in at last month’s South Carolina Youth Soccer President’s Medal Cup tournament in late April, winning the state title at their age group
The James Island Youth Soccer Club girls U-13 team, “Arsenal,” earlier this month capped off an undefeated season and a state title in winning the held in Columbia from April 26 through 28. The victory, achieved under the expert tutelage hand of JIYSC director of coaching Kevin Roberts, earned for the squad the chance to represent South Carolina June 6-9 in the 12-State Southeast Regional Tournament in Huntsville and Decatur, Ala.
The winning streak that carried Arsenal to the president’s cup earned them another name, the “Girls on Fire.” Should their fire burn hot enough to win the regional championship, they’ll be on to nationals in Oklahoma. And while the goal of making the national finals may seem lofty to some, according to Roberts, his girls have what it takes to make a deep run outside of the Palmetto state. Now all they’ve got to do is get there … literally.
And while competing in Alabama for the right to play for a national championship is a romantic notion, the fact of the matter is the trip comes at a significant cost with respect to dollar and cents. The de-facto booster club for the team, headed up by unofficial team mom Lisa Gruber has begun a fundraiser with a purpose of augmenting the cost of the trip to parents and in effect, allowing the girls to compete in Alabama.
The bad news is that should they not reach their stated fundraising goal of $7,000 the group will likely forgo the opportunity to play at the regional tournament. The good news is that the fundraising effort, dubbed “Get Team Arsenal to Alabama,” has already drawn in over a quarter of the money the group needs at over $2,000. Should Team Arsenal raise the funds and get to compete, Coach Roberts is confident the funds won’t have been raised in vain, as he is confident in above all, his team’s ability.
“They are a very strong team. We have talent from back to front, the whole team is hard working, and they really enjoy playing the game,” says Roberts. “What I teach these girls is exactly as I would teach a professional player, it’s the same game. When it comes to coaching girls, the most difficult part is convincing them that you believe in what they can do, you believe in their talents. I think this team knows me by now and that I believe in what they can do on the field.”
Roberts attributes his team’s success on the field to their love of the game as well as their receptiveness to learning. Practices for Team Arsenal are intense, up-tempo learning sessions, one part workout, a part pep rally, and one part classroom study of the finer points of “the beautiful game.” Though Roberts, in keeping with Arsenal’s “One Team, One Motion,” slogan, resists singling out individual field players for the quality of their play, he can’t help but point to goaltender Delaney Hood as one reason for the team’s success.
“To have a goalkeeper like Delaney gives us the ability to compete at a very high level,” says Roberts. “In my experience, having a goalkeeper of Delaney’s caliber can be the difference between winning and losing when playing at the elite level these girls are playing at.” Hood was not scored upon during the President’s Medal Cup tournament, pitching four shutouts alone while allowing just a handful of goals for the whole season.
For Arsenal and Hood to remain “on fire,” however, they’ve first got to there. To close the funding gap, Arsenal’s booster club is hard at work selling tickets for a fundraiser to benefit the team’s potential trip to Alabama, to be held Saturday, June 1 from noon until 4 p.m. at Smoky Oak Taproom, located on the corner of Camp and Dill’s Bluff roads. The event will include all-you-can-eat BBQ, a silent auction, activities for the young, and a beer garden for the young at heart. Tickets for this event are $10 for advance tickets or $12 at the door.
If you would like to contribute to this team, you may do so as a silent auction item, a tax deductible donation sent to JIYSC or online at the team’s website www.gofundme.com/Team-Arsenal. For more information on the James Island Youth Soccer Club and to view items up for bidding during the June 1 silent auction, see their website at http://www.jiysc.com/. To donate, please contact Renee at firstname.lastname@example.org for donations. You may purchase tickets from any U13 family, through the group’s fundraising website, www.gofundme.com/Team-Arsenal , at the James Island Walgreen’s location, or at the door.