When Derrick Jones and Brandon Andersen launched what is now Elite FC six years ago, the club had just four teams and approximately 50 players.
Since then, the competitive soccer club has grown exponentially, with 33 teams and more than 400 players taking part in its most recent season.
“I think it’s becoming not just a sport that you play as a little kid, but a viable sport that you can play up through high school,” said Jones, the club’s president.
The club was originally known as Stansbury Elite, but changed its name to Elite FC a couple years ago to reflect that it is open to more than just players from the Stansbury Park area. The club includes players from Tooele, Grantsville and Stockton, and some players have even come in from Murray and Magna.
Part of what makes Elite FC such an attractive option for players looking to take the next step from recreational-league play to competitive play is the club’s low cost, as well as the quality of the coaching available.
“We’re lucky to have a lot of coaches in the program that have a playing background,” said Stephen Duggan, the club’s director of coaching. “There is a lot of experience there.”
Coaches in the club include former longtime Tooele High boys and girls soccer coach and Westminster College player Chris Wilcox, former Tooele High soccer star and current assistant coach Spencer Call and Scottish professional soccer player and current Stansbury boys soccer assistant coach David McKechnie in addition to Duggan, a former professional goalkeeper in Europe and current Tooele boys and girls head coach, and Jones, the assistant coach for the Stansbury High girls soccer team. All of the coaches hold at least a “D” license from US Soccer.
“It’s a really amazing program,” Wilcox said. “I feel like it’s a well-put-together club and they have all the right interests in mind with the direction they want to go with the coaches and the players.”
Coaches include Dave Gibbons (09 Boys), Ryan Major (09 Girls), Jim Clark (08 Boys), Wilcox (08 Girls), Doug Call (07 Boys), Juan Munoz (07 Girls and 03 Girls), Troy Stettler (06 Boys), Gio Perez (06 Girls), Brad Drayton (05 Boys), Spencer Call (05 Girls), John Graber (04 Boys), Jones (04 Girls and High School Girls), Mark Augustine (03 Boys) and McKechnie (02-01 Boys and 00-99 Boys).
The club has sent teams to the State Cup in recent years, as well as to out-of-state competitions. Future plans for the club include continued growth, though Jones noted there will be some changes in the club’s management structure to enable that growth to occur. Presently, the club is run completely by volunteers, but with the sheer number of teams and players, it has become necessary to hire a paid club president and coaching director.
Tryouts for the 2017-18 season are scheduled to begin next week, with teams available for boys and girls born between 1999-2009 looking to progress toward becoming competitive-level soccer players.
“Some clubs can limit their teams down to where they’re just looking for the elite players,” Jones said. “We have three teams in an age group, so there’s a chance that if you’re not the best player, but you’re not a recreation player, you can still find a place to play, whether that’s at the top or one of the teams in between.”
More information, including tryout dates and contact information, is available online at www.elitefcutah.com.