In 2010, three teams of Davis and Woodland kids and their parents went looking for a different kind of soccer opportunity …
Less than three years later, that humble beginning has blossomed into the Davis Alliance Soccer Academy — 19 squads strong, serving 300 players throughout Yolo County.
“Those (initial) three teams were very, very important to me,” DASA President David M. Zoldak told The Enterprise. “We wanted to develop players … with a different approach than AYSO or Davis Legacy.”
The group provided entry-level play, stopping just short of premier-level teams. It’s an organization that grows its own from beginning to the next level, according to founders.
So popular was the approach, Zoldak explains, that growth came far quicker than Alliance founders imagined.
Originally playing indoor soccer in Vacaville and finding fields for practices where it could in Davis and Woodland, DASA now fields boys and girls teams ranging from U10 through U16.
The two-season group has moved outdoors and plays at a variety of facilities, including Playfields Park, Sandy Motley Park and Nugget Fields in Davis, and Woodland Community Fields.
While not critical of Legacy, AYSO or Woodland YMCA soccer, Zoldak and his vice president, Phil Bachand, believe the Alliance is a perfect blend of all three.
“Our kids did a lot of AYSO, my son did Legacy,” Bachand said. “There were a few things distinguishing themselves in club: Legacy offered extended play — but you had to be a really competitive, skilled player, and there’s a lot of pressure that goes with that.
“So we were looking for an opportunity to have extended play where we could have a team together for a year and yet, we wanted a level that wasn’t quite as competitive.”
The success of those first three volunteer-driven, lower-key Alliance teams spawned the group’s breakneck growth.
During the past season, two U16 boys squads — Los Azules and Bayern Munich — captured regional tournaments as teams throughout DASA ranks won or placed in other competitions. The Sacramento Youth Soccer League is home for Alliance teams’ head-to-head play while group affiliation with the California Youth Soccer League gives local squads the chance to play for an eventual state title and entry into the various State Cup tournaments.
Alliance coaches are a mix of paid and volunteer personnel. Zoldak said “95 percent of the coaches are certified with E licenses” and the group’s goal is 100 percent certification, at that highest level.
Team parents can decide if they want paid coaches and it then is up to them to raise money to cover that cost.
Referees, unlike AYSO, are paid. Administrators all remain volunteers.
Of the 300 kids playing, according to Zoldak, “there are Davis players sprinkled throughout the teams … four are exclusively Davis and altogether we have about 75 Davis kids involved.”
Bachand says one of the beauties of Alliance soccer is that a team can be formed by “anyone” and delivered intact to the league. Alliance and CYSA will judge a team’s competence and place it in the appropriate division. All coaches receive background checks before earning trustees’ blessings.
“The nice thing about Alliance is anyone who is interested in putting the effort in can put together a team, run it and play,” Bachand continued, adding that often ultra-competitive club soccer “is demanding on family time … kids and parents have no control over it. We wanted to take some of that control back and still have extended play.”
The wide-reaching DASA goal is simple:
“We offer teams the option to play recreational, metro/select and competitive soccer,” the Alliance mission statement reads. “With the help of an experienced group of coaches, we hope to reinforce more advanced technical skills, tactical awareness, physical condition and sportsmanship.”
Where the many competitive soccer clubs can bring fees that top $2,000 annually, Zoldak says Alliance works to keep costs down. Facility-use fees, insurance and referee costs mean each competitive-level DASA player will be charged $125 per season (recreational players pay $100). Uniforms are $75 each.
So pick your playing level and enjoy, Zoldak says.
Notes: In addition to SYSL and CYSA, Alliance is run in accordance with the ethical standards of the United States Soccer Federation, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and US Club Soccer. … Spring tryouts will be conducted in January with additional information to be found at www.davisalliance.org. … For the past 22 years, Zoldak has worked in wine-industry sales. Bachand, who coaches the Odyssey, coached AYSO teams for six seasons and works for Tetra Tech, an international company that provides engineering, consulting and technical services.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.