Youth soccer club finds hope, strength in heartache; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE – In June, St. George Football Club, Rage FC, will travel to Washington state to participate in a western region soccer competition. The boys, who faced off against Utah teams in January won the Utah President’s Cup and the honor of representing their state in the upcoming regional competition; but despite their accomplishments, the team has also endured its share of heartache.

Members of Rage Football Club show off their ball handling skills at a soccer practice held at Panorama Elemetary, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Members of Rage Football Club show off their ball-handling skills at a soccer practice held at Panorama Elementary, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Formerly associated with FC Warriors, a club based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, the newly formed Rage FC, is a Southern Utah soccer club and nonprofit.

After several years of playing for the Las Vegas club, head coach Mike Terry said, they, the coaches, decided it was time to start their own club so that all the money parents were paying into the program would stay in St. George.

The club, which is in its first year, has eight teams of different age groups.

There are approximately 17 boys who play on the U15, or 15-year-old age group team, many of whom have been playing together since they were 11-years-old, Terry said.

Boys, L-R, Blake,Tyson, Chepe, Riley, Aaron, Johnathan, Javier, Jorge, Jose,Kalob, Angel,Pepito, Israel, Richy, Eddie with coaches, Mike, Time and Jose weating their pink shirts in honor of teammate Juan Solares who passed away shortly before the team competed in Utah's President's Cup and won, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Team Manager Laurie Dudley, St. George News
L-R: Players Blake, Tyson, Chepe, Riley, Aaron, Johnathan, Javier, Jorge, Jose, Kalob, Angel, Pepito, Israel, Richy, Eddie; and coaches Mike, Tim and Jose wearing pink shirts in honor of teammate Juan Solares who passed away shortly before the team competed in and won the Utah’s President’s Cup. Location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Team Manager Laurie Dudley, St. George News

Team Manager and full-time soccer mom Laurie Dudley has spent many years and continues to spend much of her time caring for this group of boys.

Dudley usually has about four boys in her charge during trips to California, Las Vegas and northern Utah, she said, adding that it is her duty to make sure their gear is in order and that they remember to eat.

“They are a great group of boys,” Dudley said. “They like to have fun but when it comes time to play, they play.”

Dedicated athletes all, the team practices nearly year-round taking time off only in December and July, Terry said. The boys are also eligible to play for their high school teams and many will represent their respective schools this spring.

Over the past two years, both with FC Warriors and Rage FC, the team has seen great success, Terry said. In 2014, they were invited as a wild card team to the regional competition and this year they won the state tournament outright garnering them an automatic berth to regionals.

Accomplishments notwithstanding, the boys have also experienced recent loss and heartache. In January, shortly before the President’s Cup tournament, Rage FC teammate Juan Solares passed away in his sleep.

Members of Rage Football Club show off their ball handling skills at a soccer practice held at Panorama Elemetary, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Members of Rage Football Club show off their ball handling skills at a soccer practice held at Panorama Elementary, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The seemingly sudden loss of one of their friends and players – Solares had practiced with the team the day before his passing – shocked and saddened the tight knit group of boys, Terry said.

“It touched them,” Terry said, “and made them realize they are not indestuctible.”

In response to their loss, the team banded together honoring their fallen teammate by donning warmup jerseys at the tournament in Solares’ favorite color, pink, that said “I play for Juan.”

The team took strength in each other and the knowledge that they were playing for their friend, which, Terry said, gave the boys some extra motivation.

“Our morale went up,” team member Jose Angel Gaona said, “knowing that we have Juan up in heaven watching us, playing with us.”

After winning the President’s Cup, the team presented their trophy to Solares’ parents, a moment that Gaona said, brought tears to his eyes.

“It was very emotional,” Gaona said, “I actually started crying along with some of my other teammates, it was a great moment for our team.”

As the boys work towards regional competition they will be spending a lot of time fundraising to pay for their trip, Terry said.

“Many of these boys’ families struggle financially,” Terry said, which makes it difficult for them to get to many of their events.

To that end, Rage FC has set up a GoFundMe account through which they hope to receive donations to pay for trip expenses.

The regional competition will take place in June in Washington state where they will play against teams from several different western states for a chance to compete in the national tournament to be held in Kansas in July.

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Resources

  • Learn more about how you can help Rage FC by visiting thier GoFundMe page
  • Read more about Rage FC here

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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