Tuolumne County Youth Soccer is going strong at the age of 25.
The program begins its silver anniversary season tomorrow with a busy schedule of recreational games (see Summaries on Page 3B) starting at 8 a.m. at Standard Park.
The non-competitive Saturday program has leveled off at between 1,500 and 1,600 players after peaking at about 1,700 in 1998, according to area soccer historian Jim Frazier.
Since that year, the program's 20th, youth soccer has continued to evolve under the presidents since then Leon Manich from 1999-2001 and Joe Sherlock for the past two years.
The Sierra United Soccer Club was formed in 2001 as a branch of youth soccer to provide for players ages 10 to 18 interested in playing competitively. Sharon Manich was the first club president and Buzz Garvin is the current leader. The program has fielded from six to 10 teams each year.
The youth soccer-sponsored Eddie David Soccer Camp reached its 20-year milestone this summer. It's estimated that 3,000 players have taken part through the years.
Volunteerism continues to flourish, notably under sponsorship coordinator Cheryl Vanbenschoten. She helps about 90 of the program's 110 to 120 recreational teams gain sponsorships each year to defray costs.
Looking ahead, youth soccer and the Youth Sports Foundation of Tuolumne County continue to push for construction of a soccer complex to supplement the five fields available at Standard.