Santa Clarita United’s Girls 04 Soccer Team bested 30 teams in Coast Soccer League’s Breast Cancer Awareness Photo Contest and was honored Saturday with a celebration fit for a professional sports team.
The photo, which garnered attention and admiration from around the soccer community, depicts the 13 teammates sporting pink socks with their hands over their hearts, pink ribbons around their wrists, and United’s goalie holding the American flag front and center.
The brainchild behind the winning picture was head coach Danny Nguyen, who said he gained inspiration from two sources – friends going through breast cancer and the stars and stripes.
“We have many friends going through breast cancer right now, No. 1,” Nguyen said. “And No. 2, there’s something that’s been heavy on my mind. There have been so many issues about it. But I was inspired by the flag.”
Given the current political climate, Nguyen said he wasn’t sure if people were going to like the picture. But after getting approval from his team, he knew it was the right picture to submit.
“While I support the NFL cause, I don’t support their action,” Nguyen said. “I always stand for the flag, regardless of where we are, what we are about. But in the end, I went with my heart. So this picture is about us, united to fight against breast cancer.”
CSL rewarded the team and their families with a breakfast provided by Marston’s and a ride on a victory party bus that drove the team to their first of two League Cup games in Irvine. It was a prize team captain Charlotte Potter more than welcomed.
“I’m so excited about today,” Potter said. “We get to see how professional athletes get treated. It gives us the opportunity to see how they travel and how they settle down for a game.”
Team parents also expressed excitement and pride not with only in the team’s first-place photo contest finish, but also in the team’s overall resiliency.
“Last year, this team suffered some player injuries and personal family losses,” said Cindi Lim, mom to SC United’s goalie. “I love this photo because it shows how tough these girls are, while at the same time standing united in support of breast cancer awareness.”
CSL official David Fliegler said SC United’s photo, taken by Scott Shepherd at the Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall, was not the odds-on favorite during the early rounds of voting – a contest in which entries were voted on through the CSL app.
“We had a runoff,” Fliegler said. “We had 30 teams. They (Santa Clarita United) weren’t even the main vote-getter when there were 30 teams. But in the end, of the three remaining, United was the last Santa Clarita team left. And they had twice as many votes as the nearest competitor.”
CSL encompasses Southern California teams from San Luis Obispo to the Mexican border. It consists of approximately 2,600 teams and close to 40,000 players.
“When you do the arithmetic, you have well over 100,000 people participate, when you include parents, siblings, referees and coaches,” Fliegler said. “This is a big community. Breast cancer has touched everyone in one way or another. This photo contest gave teams something to work on together, and that’s part of what we’re trying to accomplish. We want people to understand that we are all in this fight together.”
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Fabulous picture and story. Don’t forget the grandparents, aunts and uncles who take and pick up soccer girls tfrom practices. And travel, sometimes great distances to see them play. Always a pleasure. Rain or shine they bring it on.