Photos courtesy of Steve Citron
Oceanside CA— This coming June, a boys U16 beach soccer team will be traveling across the country, from Oceanside, California to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to compete at the highest competitive level in the largest and most prestigious amateur beach soccer event in the world – The North American Sand Soccer Championships (NASSC). With over 1,300 teams competing at this event in 2016, no other beach soccer tournament even comes close. In addition to the amateur competition, the event also serves as the US Open for Beach Soccer, attracting numerous professional teams from around the globe each year.
SoCal Legacy is a traveling competitive beach soccer team consisting of players from multiple clubs from the Oceanside area. Legacy’s overall record and related stats are impressive by any measure with 73 match wins, 9 losses, and 3 ties. They have scored around 550 goals, on average finding the net nearly 7 times a match, while typically allowing less than 3 goals a game. Their fast-paced style of play consists of lightning fast transitions, combined with extremely accurate finishing from both distance and close range, and a variety of skills and talents that have been forged on the sands of sunny Southern California over the past several years.
It all started in 2013, when a U12 boy’s recreational team entered a local beach soccer tournament in Oceanside, California. That single experience united a team of players and their families to embark on an incredible journey spanning the past 4 years and covering 21 tournaments, including a couple of cross-country trips to Clearwater Beach, Florida where they have won two consecutive MBS National Championships – the BU14 title in 2015 and the BU16 title in 2016.
A one-time event, simply intended for some summertime fun, ended up transforming into their first “beach season”, consisting of 4 tournaments, and concluded with their first championship win in August at the 2013 Copa Cobana Beach Soccer Tournament in El Segundo, California. “That was all it took and the next spring the same players and parents came together for a second season”, says Dean Gillespie, team manager for SoCal Legacy, “we all had beach soccer fever”. A second team had also started to form during the original season, consisting of some younger brothers of Legacy players and their friends (dubbing themselves “Barcelona”). This team, and at times a few others, followed Legacy from tournament to tournament during that summer and subsequent seasons. Now there were many more families involved and it didn’t take long before they all began to enjoy each other’s company by engaging in multi-team barbeques, boogie boarding between matches, and just having a great time at each tournament. “An incredible amount of fantastic memories were created in those early seasons, as both teams traveled up and down the coast of California competing in various regional competitions from San Diego to Los Angeles”, says Gillespie, “summertime fun that will never be forgotten”.