Dec. 8, 2004 - It's a cold and rainy Saturday morning in December at River Front Park in Oro Valley, and out battling the unseasonably dreary Tucson weather and a team from Gilbert is the Canyon del Oro 92 Select.
With puddles of standing water beginning to form in front of both goals, this Oro Valley-based soccer squad trudges its way through the rain and mud in conditions that would force most teams to seek shelter elsewhere. Despite losing to Gilbert, 3-2, this team of mostly 12-year-olds doesn't seem to mind playing in surroundings where the freezing wind visibly whisks the player's breath away. The players take on the bravado of their coach, Sean Watkins, who tells them after the game that this is his favorite weather to play in.
CDO 92 Select will be just one of 102 teams praying for better weather Dec. 10 through 12 when the Northwest hosts the Canyon del Oro Classic, a club soccer tourney featuring teams of all ages and abilities.
"It's a user-friendly kind of tournament," said Steve Wallace of the design of the weekend tourney. Wallace is the girls program coordinator and coach of several CDO girls club teams.
The best part of this tournament is the various level of play you will find, from beginners to the advanced players, said Wallace.
Teams will be spread throughout the area playing games as far north as Wilson Elementary School and down south to Jakobs and Ochoa Parks. In between, games will also be held at Riverfront and Kreigh Parks and Rillito Fields.
Boys and girls squads ranging in age from 11-and-under up through 14-and-under will compete in the weekend tourney. Teams will come from as far away as Phoenix, Douglas and Sierra Vista.
"It's pretty much for bragging rights in the city," said Sean Watkins, boys program coordinator.
Since its inception in 1981, the CDO Soccer Club has been establishing itself as one of the Tucson metro area's top soccer leagues.
What separates CDO Club Soccer from other club leagues such as Sereno in Phoenix and Gilbert is the club's attention to developing players of all levels and not concentrating solely on an end result of "winning at all costs."
By no coincidence, due to its attention to fundamentals, many CDO club teams are enjoying success. The most recent example came in late October when the U13 CDO 92 Select squad won a prestigious Mayor's Cup in Las Vegas against top-flight competition from all over the Southwest.
"It's not about wins, it's about development," said Watkins who also heads up the U13 CDO 92 Select squad. "Because we are developing, we are winning."
Wallace echoed Watkins' sentiments when it comes to developing their players.
"We don't want short cuts to success," said Wallace. To ensure the finest quality in coaching and to establish continuity throughout the club's 15 teams, Wallace, Watkins and the rest of the league's board appoint coaches in two-year blocks.
By locking in managers with specific age groups, the club can ensure the continuous progression of instruction that coincides with the club's style of play. The thinking, says Wallace, is that kids don't have to learn a new system and adjust to a new coach every year.
To make that happen, Wallace and the league employs the Animated Coach's Database, which is a computer program specifically designed to fundamentally advance the club's coaches and gradually teach the 3-4-3 level of play.
Games will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 and continue throughout the weekend, concluding with championships Dec. 12. More information on specific teams and game times can be found online at www.cdosoccer.com.