Over the Memorial Day weekend Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is playing host to the annual Real Colorado Cup - where teams from around the state, and some from across the country, gather for the biggest tournament in Colorado. Participating in the tournament are four Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club Rapids girls teams, which are part of the Colorado Rapids adidas Alliance.
On Friday morning the Vegas Under-14 girls team, coached by Charles Paulsen, took advantage of the nice weather and their partnership with the Rapids to check out Oscar Pareja's team training at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“We have access to similar coaching staff and-or some of the same coaching staff that the senior team has,” Paulsen told ColoradoRapids.com afterwards, referring to Colorado Rapids Assistant Coach Steve Cooke who recently ran a training session in Las Vegas for the girls. “They come down and run training sessions, and we have access to their 35 week curriculum. And then we have access to things like this – we found out last night that we could come check out the training session.”
The Rapids partner club has four teams playing in the tournament in the U-12 to U-18 age brackets. For them, the chance to check out how the professionals work is big perk of the relationship.
“They benefit, I think, a ton,” Paulsen said. “A lot of these girls want to keep playing, I’m sure in high school next year, and I hear them chatting about college. So it’s good motivation.”
Katelyn Laurente, a hybrid forward and midfielder for the U-14 girls team, explained the benefits of being a part of the adidas Alliance from a player’s perspective.
“Normally, Steve Cooke comes to coach us,” Laurente told ColoradoRapids.com. “His sessions are really good, they’re fast paced and we have to keep moving.”
"It's tremendously rewarding and a lot of fun to work with these girls and all of our Rapids adidas Alliance partner clubs," said Cooke. "We want all players to maximize their abilities and reach their true potential, but while doing so, remind them that soccer is a fun activity, which can help their overall personal development. They are outstanding young people, and it’s a pleasure for us to be part of their learning process”
Shortly following the Rapids training session, the Downtown LVSC Rapids girls held a training session of their own on an adjacent field to get in some last minute preparation before the tournament kicks off - and a full weekend of soccer.
On Saturday the girls will take on Pride SC Red and Pikes Peak Rush Swoosh at 10:40 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.. They'll then go to the Rapids Women home opener against Colorado Rush at 4 p.m. before attending the Rapids versus Chivas USA match in the evening. On Sunday the girls return to action with games against Colorado Storm North Black and Rocky Mountain Cougars Black, where they'll hope to advance to Monday's finals.
“Ideally we always come home with a souvenir, which is a medal or a trophy,” said Paulsen. “But [the players] will get better too, which is the whole point.”