Sinking and surpassing goals | ParkRecord.com

Sinking and surpassing goals

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

The softball caravans may be on their way out of town, but Park City isn’t finished playing host to youth athletic tournaments just yet. This weekend, members, coaches and fans of more than 200 soccer teams from across the West will inundate the town for the annual Extreme Cup youth soccer tournament.

Now in its sixth year, the Extreme Cup has become Utah’s largest competitive youth soccer tournament. The event hosts boys’ and girls’ teams from 9-and-under to 18-and-under from California, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada and all across Utah, including about 20 teams from Park City.

The tournament’s rapid growth has come as a welcome surprise to its organizers. "This thing has gotten huge," says assistant director Shelley Gillwald. Participation has multiplied sixfold since 2006 and now surpasses Salt Lake City’s 28-year-old Sparta Cup in terms of the number of participants.

According to tournament director Heather Fox, who took over the event in 2007, the organizers actually had to turn away about 60 teams this year because of constraints on field space and time. She says that the tournament will expand next year to accommodate close to 300 teams.

"We’re one of the fastest growing tournaments in soccer," Fox says. She credits the event’s success to the marketing efforts of the tournament committee and volunteers.

Thanks to the buzz they’ve generated, the tournament has drawn big-name corporate sponsors including Powerade as the title sponsor and Adidas and Sun Products as elite platinum sponsors.

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The tournament is also supported by grants from the Park City Chamber/Bureau and the Summit County Restaurant Tax. "They see the value of drawing the soccer community together and support us taking this tournament to the next level," says Gillwald.

Fox touts the event as a destination tournament, even for teams traveling from in-state. Participants are encouraged to make a mini-vacation out of the event to experience all that Park City has to offer. "We’ve really built that up over the years to make this a positive, fun destination for the teams and also help local businesses. It’s a great way for us to showcase Park City in general."

In addition to playing at venues throughout the area, players will have a chance to check out some exciting events on the side, including the Park City Kimball Arts Festival and events surrounding the Major League Soccer All-Star Game, which will be held at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday.

"We definitely try to support anything locally going on," says Fox. "It’s a strong part of my philosophy as director to promote local businesses and events."

Games run Thursday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Quinn’s Junction, Ecker Hill, Willow Creek, Trailside, Treasure Mountain, the North-40 field and the Oakley sports complex. The championship games for each age group will be held on Saturday at different locations.

Teams in each age group from U9 to U18 will be divided into brackets based on team records and the divisions in which they play, and brackets will be broken down into flights of three or four teams. Each team will play either two pool games and a consolation or semifinal game, or three pool games and a final game.

Richie Breza, who coaches the Black Diamond U18 girls, says he is looking forward to another successful run at the Extreme Cup. His team took first place last year and is anxious to defend its title, Breza says. "It’s a great local tournament. You get great fields, great weather — it has everything Park City has to offer."

For schedules, guidelines and more information on the Extreme Cup, visit http://www.parkcityextremecup.com .

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