Opening Day for the 2017 Escalon youth soccer season started early on Saturday, Aug. 12 with games in multiple divisions scattered across the playing fields at Hogan-Ennis Park adjacent to the city’s Community Center.
From the youngest level of Tots – 3- and 4-year-olds just getting introduced to the game – to those in the Major/Senior division, for 11- to 14-year-olds, there was plenty of action for players and spectators alike. Many of the teams have local sponsors, with all players receiving jerseys, shorts and socks for the season.
“We have 667 participants, which is down a few from last year, but we do have 62 teams,” said Bridget Gaines of the Escalon Recreation Department. “We have players from 3- to 14-years-old; we go every Saturday except we skip Labor Day weekend.”
Accordingly, there will be no games on Sept. 2; the season’s final day will be Oct. 7.
There are 18 Tot teams, the 3- and 4-year-olds, and they often have the most enthusiastic audience, as parents, grandparents, siblings and more shout encouragement and try to point out which way the players should go toward the goal. There are no goalies at the youngest age level; kids work on dribbling and shooting, and no scores are kept. There is, however, celebration after the ball crosses the goal line – sometimes more from the family of the player scoring than from the young player themselves.
There are 14 teams in the Squirts 5- and 6-year-old division, with both the youngest levels featuring co-ed teams. In both the Tots and Squirts contests, coaches are able to be on the field to help players as they learn the game.
At the Pee Wee level, for 7- and 8-year-olds, there are four girls teams and eight boys teams. Minor Girls have four teams; Minor Boys have five, with that age group including 9- and 10-year-olds. The oldest age group has players from 11- to 14-years-old, with four Major Girls teams and five Major Boys teams.
Age divisions are based on the player’s age as of Nov. 1, 2017.
Picture Day for the squads is set for Saturday, Aug. 19 and throughout the season, teams will play at a variety of times on Saturdays, typically ranging from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; length of games also varies by age division.