As Academica SC gears up for its first season of Women’s Premier Soccer League play, the team’s newly-selected head coach Damon Solomon is hoping to see plenty of talent on the pitch during tryouts next weekend.
Turlock’s semi-professional soccer club announced in January that it had joined the WPSL as part of the 2022 expansion class, providing local women with the chance to play at a high level and sharpen their skills. While the Academica men’s team plays in the National Premier Soccer League, where they won their first conference championship last season, the WPSL is the longest active women’s soccer league with more than 125 clubs in 35 states.
Less than a month after the new women’s team was announced, Academica found the squad’s head coach in former Stanislaus State assistant coach Damon Solomon. Solomon has coaching experience as an assistant for both the men and women’s teams at Stanislaus State, and also coaches an Academica Jrs. team. In total, he has over 15 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level and moved to Turlock from Oklahoma.
These days, in addition to his work with Academica, Solomon is a physical education teacher and athletic director for a junior high school in Atwater. He and his wife are also expecting another child in just a couple of months.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff going on, but they asked me to come on board and it was just one of those things where you know it’s a great opportunity,” Solomon said. “I’m excited for Turlock’s inaugural season in the WPSL.”
Solomon became a coach so that he could provide the same mentorship to local athletes that he received from coaches growing up, he said. He tries to instill in his players the importance of serving as a role model, but remaining competitive as well.
Academica’s WPSL will provide women with an opportunity to play among the best, whether they’ve just graduated high school, are on summer break from college or are looking to dust their cleats off after years of not playing. It’s Solomon’s hope that the new team can help grow women’s soccer in the area and help its players move on to the next big thing, from playing overseas to earning a scholarship.
“This is one of the highest levels in the nation for women to play, and a great way for players to stay in shape and learn new things,” he said. “I think this is huge for the city of Turlock, and any time we can promote the women’s side of sports is important. For a city that’s growing, it’s a great opportunity.”
With tryouts set for the coming weeks ahead of the season’s mid-May start, Solomon has a few goals in mind for the season.
“We want to win, and we want to make sure we have a great culture,” he said. “We want the players to enjoy themselves, but also get something out of playing.”
Academica’s first-ever WPSL tryouts will take place at 2 p.m. March 20 at Academica Field, 1343 W. Greenway Ave. Another April tryout will be announced as well. To sign up for the tryout, visit http://www.academicasc.com/wpsl-tryouts/.