CLUB PROFILE: Irvine Strikers

(Interview with Don Ebert, head coach)

Location: Irvine, Calif.

History: Formed 18 years ago. Now has the most Gold and Premier teams of any Southern California club.

Championships: Two USYSA Region IV titles (1 boys, 1 girls).

Most famous players: David Chun, Jordan Harvey, Tyson Wahl (U.S. U-17 national team members).

Number of players: 500 (U-9 through U-19).

Teams: 30 (boys and girls).

Coaches: 22 paid staff coaches, plus Don Ebert (head coach) and two full-time assistants.

Coaching salaries: $6,000-$8,000 per team.

Cost to play: $1,000 per year.

Facilities: Joint-use agreement with city of Irvine.

Club philosophy: ôPreparing younger players for high school soccer and older players for college soccer and beyond. By not worrying about championships, we end up with kids who are ready to go on and enjoy the game.ö

Recruiting philosophy: ôRecruiting is the thing I dislike most about club soccer. ItÆs wrong to lie and make false promises to 10- and 12-year-olds and their families. We have open tryouts after state cups, but we donÆt keep statistics and send letters to kids on other teams. That kind of pressure is ridiculous.ö

ClubÆs greatest strength: ôOur coaching staff. We have current and former professionals and lots of high school coaches, which fits in well with our philosophy of preparation. We got rid of parent coaches a long time ago.ö

ClubÆs biggest challenge: ôLike every other club in Southern California, maintaining what we have without breaking parents financially. Kids pay a fortune for ODP and clubs; even high school soccer is no longer free. Where does it end?ö

Most recent club issues: ôFacilities and cost. WeÆre desperately looking for a place, but land in Orange County is $1 million an acre. WeÆre always discussing how to maintain coaching salaries in a competitive environment.ö

How you got three players on one national team: ôLuck, timing, and the fact that theyÆre great, competitive and very dedicated players. Their team here is the best IÆve ever been associated with. John Ellinger saw them play in Bradenton (Fla.) when we beat his national team, 1-0.ö

Sponsor: Nike.

Fund-raising: 2 tournaments per year.

Unusual facts: U-17 boys played up this year and won the U-19 Premier and California state championships; 20 players from clubÆs æ00 graduating class played college soccer last fall.

Contact: Don Ebert, 5 Shearwater, Irvine, CA 92604; e-mail:; Web site:

by Soccer America Youth Soccer Letter executive editor Dan Woog

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