Girls Soccer: Our Start in San Francisco

The original post was written in late 2016 after we found a really great spot to land our oldest to continue pursuing her interest in American Fútbol. We found a great starting point with a team and it was a fantastic start.

But that’s all it was.

The reality is that it’s very difficult for a coach to also be the organization’s manager (and vice versa). It requires unbelievable skill, drive, and communication to pull off. When I originally wrote this post, we had yet to figure out that her organizational, leadership, and communication skills were weak — so all of the following statements and sentiment are true.

But, I spoke too early.

In time, we moved on from this club to greener pastures but not everything is perfect there either. But, it is a step-up. If you’d like to read that original post, it’s below.

I’m really grateful for the strong start — I just wish it hadn’t collapsed so terribly and, most tragically, that we lost a friend in the process.

Sure, I’m biased, but, I believe the best soccer program and girls coach in San Francisco is Alexis Cuellar with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working with for a few years now via her team and organization, FC Royale.

Saying she’s experienced would be a gross understatement; she’s played at some of the highest levels and is now deftly applying and deploying those strategies and tactics into the girls that she coaches and mentors. The players (and city) have taken notice and last year she was named the Competitive Coach of the Year for 2015.

But it gets even better: She is still an active player most-recently making the roster of the US Women’s Futsal Team (we had the distinct pleasure of watching her play).

Finals! Futsal Winter 2015/16 Season
Finals! Futsal Winter 2016

For those that know, having a real player-coach as an instructor and leader creates an infinitely better environment for authentic and relevant training and skill development (we’ve all seen and experienced coaches who have “been out of the game” for some time…).

Alexis Cuellar - US Women's Futsal Team
Alexis Cuellar, US Women’s National Futsal Team – We’re fans.
Alexis Cuellar - US Women's Futsal Team
Alexis Cuellar, US Women’s National Futsal Team – Team Photo together with Taipei National team, 2016

To top it off she’s a founder of the organization and has the business and organizational acumen that a soccer club needs, especially in the early stages and so our respect for her as a true professional goes deep.

(Oh, and she’s a mom of 2 girls herself and she goes out of her way to chauffeur her team to and from games and practices and team events… super-mom…?!)

And we couldn’t be more grateful – when we moved out here in early 2015 we didn’t have any connections to the local San Francisco soccer club scene.

Alexis Cuellar - Club FC Royale
Alexis Cuellar – Club FC Royale 2015/16

After having our oldest grow and train in the much larger Atlanta metropolitan (beginning at age 5, she’s now 10) we were anxious to find a compelling program that would invest not only into her skills but also her person and character. We did our research (like all good parents do) and then trusted that, with a little experimentation, land with a coach and club that we could trust.

I’ll be honest – we were incredibly lucky to find Alexis early on in our search (we did experiment lightly with a few other teams) and we haven’t looked back. Her commitment to be an active player-coach and push the girls through weekly team and skill training is exemplar.

She even offers weekly conditioning which our oldest loves. I mean, who doesn’t love running along the sandy coast of San Francisco! Roenne consistently comes home with her trainers full of sand. They ultimately took some of that training to do a Color Run for even more team-building:

We’re grateful to have found her when we first landed her in San Francisco and are committed to see her, the team, and naturally our own girls succeed.

Another Great Spring 2016 Season - Alexis Cuellar, FC Royale
Finals – Stanford Tournament August 2016 – Alexis Cuellar, FC Royale

Which brings me to my final point – Alexis has created an incredibly-fertile foundation for my oldest to grow as both a player and a person. She’s coaching and mentoring her players in their technical, interpersonal, leadership, and communication skills that’s paying big dividends.

As a parent, there just aren’t many things more rewarding than seeing your children grow as responsible, passionate, and committed people. To watch Roenne’s confidence grow as a player and teammate is deeply satisfying.

She took home the "Golden Boot" award for the team.
Voted MVP by her teammates for the Stanford tournament.

My wife and I have observed this for not only our own child but also the team as a whole. Our hope is that we can continue to keep the core team strong so that they may grow together.

After having played at some pretty competitive levels myself I know first-hand the value of consistent teammates. After playing with the same folks for years you gain an almost-telepathic ability which is necessary at the very highest levels of play.

FC Royale - Keeping the Team Strong Together
FC Royale – Stanford Tournament

And now, as our youngest (she’ll be 6 in January, 2017) continues to grow her skills we’re ecstatic that she’ll be coached by Alexis Cuellar now, starting with the Winter 2016/17 Futsal season.

She’s got a decent start watching / observing her older sister play and we see that she wants to take her skills to the next level. There’s really no one else we’d trust with that opportunity than Alexis.

Here’s a unnecessary gallery of photos of my youngest. It’s my blog so I’ll do this just because. :P

What’s neat is that Arden has already gotten a taste of Alexis and her coaching style as she’s been invited to practice and train with her oldest a few times in the past year. Check it:

So we know that she’s going to have a blast and we can’t wait to get started.

Finally, what’s most important here and what ultimately is the bottom-line for our family is this: We trust Alexis Cuellar with our children’s talent and we know, without any reservation, that it’s a sound investment that’s already provided ample life-long returns.

Winning is nice and we’d never say no to those, but the character development and the care that she puts into the development of the girls under her care is the biggest win of all.

Here are a few shots of our final game of the FC Royale Fall 2016 season below as well as my attempt to put together a video montage above.

Total aside, but, the iPhone 7 Plus is an amazing device and the best mobile camera of all-time. All of these are done without any post-processing or filters and the video was all captured, edited, and produced on the device itself. Nutso.

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