Club soccer team reaches out to neighborhood youth
It's what didn't happen in the fight that is significant.
Highland's Xavier Jordan rushed into the fray against archrival East in mid-April. For the midfielder who led his club team, Utah Development Academy, in red cards, Jordan played peacekeeper by holding back other players from entering the ruckus.
It's the connections that Jordan has built through high-school soccer and at the club level that have changed his approach to the game. His passion for the game matches his skill level, but Jordan views the game as an opportunity to take his talents to the next level.
"Soccer can take you places you never thought you could go," Jordan said. "It's the common thing that brings everyone together, and it means a lot to me."
Jordan is joining with his UDA teammates to take his newfound approach to soccer and bring it to the communities of Rose Park and Glendale. UDA is working to build younger players' fundamentals and prepare them for the rigors of competitive soccer.
Director of coaching Tyler Stockstill left the doctorate program at the University of Utah last year to assume coaching responsibilities for the UDA team. Stockstill recognizes the economic difficulties in the community and believes that having older players mentor younger ones is mutually beneficial.
"It's the priority playing soccer," he said. "It's the one thing that can make a positive impact on the kids and the community."
Working with East High winger Jose Torres, Stockstill has seen dramatic improvements in his on- and off-field performance. By focusing on schoolwork, Torres has doubled his efforts on being an efficient scorer for UDA as well as preparing himself for college.
"Soccer is a good outlet for boys who need a kick in the rear end when they become hard to handle," Stockstill said. "It can ground them and refocus their energies. With guidance, it is amazing the level of drastic difference I've seen in players."
Torres was excited about volunteering at the MacDonald's Youth Clinic at Glendale Middle School because it afforded him an opportunity to pass along skills and his new sense of discipline to the younger players.
"It's important to set an example for the team," Torres said. "You are expected to work hard and be a role model for the team. That's the only way you'll get to play."
The work that comes from developing a competition level club in Utah is what befits Saul Suarez. The West High midfielder likes the challenges of improving his game while working toward a future college career.
"Soccer is supposed to be fun, and that's what gets me out here," Suarez said. "You get with the guys and play hard and have a good time."
Utah Development Academy is in its second year of existence.
UDA focuses on the Latino and African community to get kids involved in soccer.