by Pete Richmire

Tacoma Stars players and coaches have been running Youth Soccer Clinics both during the MASL season and summer for many years. What took place in Yakima last weekend was a true community event that drew nearly 300 kids to the Sozo Soccer Complex. Youth players age four through 13 were put through skill-building drills during the clinic which concluded with attendees grouped into teams for a scrimmage.

The clinic was led by Stars midfielder Sebastian Navarro and his former college teammate Iovani Rodriguez through their Community Soccer Foundation and included Stars player Nani Mendoza. Luis Birrueta, a Stars Reserves and Yakima United goalkeeper, and Davis soccer coach Cristian Gonzalez rounded out a coaching staff that led the three-hour clinic which was free to youth players from the area.

Coaches from 10 different men’s and women’s programs attended the clinic to scout potential recruits which was another indicator of the success of the event, which Navarro and Rodriguez hope to make an annual event.

Typical camps Navarro works can draw dozens of players and with hundreds of players signed up in Yakima, there were concerns in the beginning.

“I thought there were going to be way more problems,” Navarro told the Yakima Herald. “I thought we were going to have to fix way more things, but everything ran smoothly.”

The reach of Stars clinics and coaches has been outstanding this summer and General Manager Nick Perera recognizes what the events do for the soccer community.

“Soccer is a great unifier, and through soccer, we are so proud to have connected with so many incredible families this offseason. The Stars want to be a presence of community engagement and unity, and what better way to connect than through soccer,” Perera said.

With his first CSF clinic in the books, a dream had come true for Navarro.

He said, “Helping my community has always been my dream. The fact that I was able to make that dream a reality is amazing and I’m forever grateful.”