Colorful banners and teams in their matching uniforms added vibrancy to the celebration that kicks off the 2013 campaign for the league, which is celebrating its ninth season.
"Part of (soccer’s increasing popularity in Patterson) is cultural, but another part is the program that the PYSA puts on," said Patty Garcia, president of the league. "The parents and the kids seem to be happy with the product that we are putting out on the field."
The players, scattered across the Patterson High gridiron, ranging in age from four to 15, wore fresh new uniforms in a spectrum of colors.
Parents gathered in bunches in the bleachers and on the sidelines, pausing their conversations to scream instructions at their children. Younger siblings played impromptu soccer games wherever they could find space.
"The kids are learning good sportsmanship (and) fair play, and they are making a lot of new friends," Garcia said. "This program allows the kids to just play and be themselves."
The PYSA continues to grow each year, according to Garcia. This season, the league boasts 46 teams and more than 500 players.
Players are grouped according to age, with under-6, under-8, under-10 and under-12 boys and girls teams and under-15 co-ed teams.
Garcia added that the PYSA’s purpose is to operate soccer programs where young people can learn to develop constructive character traits, and have positive learning experiences to reach their potential.
Keeping kids active is just one of the goals of the PYSA, which was formed in 2005. Garcia said that in addition to the 530 local boys and girls who take part in the league, there are several hardworking coaches and volunteers who help the program in a variety of ways.
"We have an incredible volunteer base in Patterson," Garcia said. "We have a unique group of people with expertise, and some have been working with PYSA for years."
For local soccer enthusiasts young and old longing for the new season of the PYSA since the last ball was kicked in the spring, the wait is over.
Jaime Medrano, 8, said this is his first year playing for the PYSA, but soccer is his favorite sport.
“I like scoring goals and running really fast,” he said. “It’s fun to be out there on the field.”
Jaime’s father, Juan Medrano, said he encourages his children to play organized sports because it’s great exercise.
“Soccer really helps them to keep active,” Medrano said. “Besides, it keeps them burning all that stored-up energy.”
It’s mid-August, and for many soccer parents in Patterson, they’ll be spending many of their coming Fridays and Saturdays at the T.W. Patterson Sports Park, Garcia said.
“The key concept here is the community," Garcia said. "I feel that this town loves the family atmosphere we create when soccer is played at the sports complex.”
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org