Last week we introduced you to the varsity soccer coach from Alisal High School. It’s located in one of Salinas' toughest neighborhoods. Coach Mark Cisneros was trying to raise money to take his team to Los Angeles to play some of the best high school soccer teams in the nation. And the community, including many KAZU listeners, responded in a big way to his online Go Fund Me campaign.
“The response after you piece was absolutely amazing,” said Cisneros this week as his team was in between games. “I never would’ve imagined something like that could happen. We went from fundraising $2500 to almost $18,000 in just a couple of days. I mean the love and understanding and interest in the boys is amazing. I was really blown away.”
Add to that checks sent directly to Cisneros at the high school, and he estimates the team raised nearly $25,000, far more than his $5000 to $7000 goal.
So last Friday, four soccer coaches and 41 players from Alisal’s Varsity and Junior Varsity teams headed south for a six day trip to play the top three teams in the state.
“We’re definitely at the Motel 6. We didn’t upgrade to the Ritz or anything like that. We’re keeping it simple, buying our food at Costco or McDonald’s. We’ve got some beautiful jackets. Every kid now on the team has a jacket, both JV and Varsity, so when we walk into a match we look uniform. We look like an actual team that’s ready to play,” said Cisneros.
The Varsity team didn't give up a goal in all three games. It tied one of the games 0-0, and won the two others including a victory over powerhouse Loyola High School.
“And they were the number one team in California, number two in the nation at one point and we beat them 1-0 in their stadium. San Diego State University coach was there, and he was very interested in a couple of our players, so that’s one of the main reasons we came down here is for that reason and it might be paying off,” says Cisneros.
Paying off for players like Senior Manny Figueroa who says a highlight of the trip has been showing that Salinas has talent.
And for all the people who helped get them there. “I just want to say thank you cause without them we couldn’t probably come here. Also because of them we got our JV team to come with us, which is good for them because they got good motivation to see that they could play as good as all those nationally ranked teams,” says Figueroa.
The generosity didn’t stop locally, rival team Paramount High School treated the Alisal teams to dinner after their game. And the Orange County Blues professional soccer team gave the teams boxes of gear including socks, shorts and scarves.
Cisneros says the Alisal coaches are looking to the future. They plan to use some of the money raised to help the team’s seniors apply for college by covering the cost of applications and SAT tests.