Hundreds of local children refused to be fazed by the heavy fog and wet conditions on Saturday morning as they showed up to the Turlock Sports Park ready to participate in some of the most highly-anticipated events in the organization’s history.
At 9 a.m. sharp, kickoff ensued, with both football and soccer balls. On one half of the facility, three fields were filled with those participating in the TSP’s flag football playoffs and championships. On the opposite side, many of Turlock’s young soccer enthusiasts took the pitch with a Major League Soccer player Hayden Sargis, who returned to his hometown to train with local children and offer an abundance of photo ops.
“This is absolutely awesome,” said TSP Director Broc Hamilton. “To have all these kids out here having fun is what it’s truly all about.”
And fun is exactly what was being had.
Despite muddied cleats and several of the flag football players ending their 2022 seasons in the loss column, smiles were evident in nearly every face. It was a scene that Sargis, who has played in front of some of the biggest soccer crowds in the country, took time to soak in.
“It’s freezing out here, but every single one of these kids are happy to be here. It’s always been something important for me to give back to my community because when I was a kid, I remember going to games and waiting in stands and hoping for the pro to sign my jersey and take a picture. Now that I’m able to do this and put smiles on their faces, it’s really something special for me. I’m just excited to see kids from where I’m from and see their passion for the game,” Sargis said.
The soccer camp is something that Sargis and TSP CEO and President Fred Rasuli hope to continue for years to come.
“This is something we want to do annually,” Sargis said. “I’ve known Fred for a while, and we’re close. He knows I have my brand and for him to have this sports complex is a great way for me to train here and give back to these youth players.”
Smiles were also bright and especially huge in those who were apart of the five championship-winning football teams.
In the 6U age group, the Commanders took down the Eagles by a score of 24-14. In the 8U title game, the Ravens bested the Steelers in a dominant 46-18 win. Over in the 10U championship, the Chiefs squeezed out a victory over the Broncos by a score of 14-13. The 12U title game also saw a tight contest as the Falcons beat the Lions, 26-25. And in the 15U championship, the Bengals were victorious as they took down the Dolphins by a score of 30-16.
In the midst of proud parents, family members and friends, it is arguable that the proudest was Hamilton, who reflected on putting on one of the biggest events participant-wise in the organization’s history.
“I am super proud of all of our players, parents, coaches and our program as a whole,” Hamilton said. “TSP is more than a job or hobby, it’s my passion.”
Hamilton explained that even though the latest season has just concluded, the staff is already hard at work for 2023, with the next season starting on Feb. 25.
As for Sargis, he will continue his offseason workouts ahead of the MLS preseason while trying to spend as much time as possible with family and friends in Turlock.
“Once I’m away, it’s tough being away from family. I just want to have a good holiday, wish a Merry Christmas to everyone and get back to work,” Sargis said. “We’ll definitely be back doing this.”
In the meantime, Sargis encourages fans to follow along in his MLS journey at HaydenSargis.com and on Instagram at @HaydenSargis and @HaydenSargisBrand.
Updates for latest Turlock Sports Park events and activities can also be found on social platforms on www.TurlockSportsPark.com and on Facebook and Instagram at @TurlockSportsPark.