BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - AYSO philosophy declares that everybody plays and teams should be balanced - not exactly what you associate with a national championship team.
Coach Daniel Stewart will tell you Liberty United is not your typical AYSO club.
"If I had to describe them in one word," coach Stewart told 23ABC on Wednesday, "it would have to be tenacious."
They're AYSO with a teenage twist, a competitive club team who want to win. Liberty united placed in 10 statewide tournaments all year just to make it to the national games where they placed first place, all in the name of AYSO Extra.
"Players that are in Extra are players that want a higher level of soccer experience," Extra board member Michael Hoyer explained.
"Like the Landon Donovan's of the world who started in AYSO," coach Stewart added, "now there is a place for them to play high level, aggressive soccer."
That high level soccer was on display last week at the Extra national games. AYSO Extra board member Michael Hoyer says the competition field was as large as it gets.
"Teams from across AYSO are represented," Hoyer said, "certainly there was Michigan, Hawaii, New Mexico and New York. In the case of the Bakersfield Boys, it is a testament to perform through all those games and see it through to win the National Games."
"Just the whole car ride home it felt like our hard work paid off," player Noah Maples said, "we built all these big tournaments and just kept taking big steps."
"And for the whole thing to end the way we wanted it?" coach Stewart added, "It is almost just fairy-tale."
This fairy-tale certainly had a happy ending but there was still a moral to the story as well. It's possible for a competitive-sports team to be easy-going and all inclusive while still being national champs.
"We're getting the best of both worlds," coach Stewart said, "they're playing a sport they love and I'm coaching a sport they love and they are growing as young men. How I want my son and all their sons to grow as well and AYSO has provided that."
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