From humble beginnings, Atletico Santa Rosa keeps its commitment to and finds success in academics
Atlético Santa Rosa - Heart of the Club
By Daniel Morales
Located in the heart of Sonoma County you’ll find the home of one of the most successful North Bay youth soccer clubs in recent years, Atletico Santa Rosa. A magical 10 acre farm in Santa Rosa which has a grass soccer pitch, futsal court, weight room and clubhouse is the headquarters for 450 athletes to not only develop as players but most importantly grow as individuals, teammates and form part of a diverse community.
“In 2003 I decided to sit down and grab a piece of paper and draft out my vision for a club.” Said Atletico Santa Rosa President and Analy High School alumni Adolfo Mendoza. “My key requirement was to make it affordable for the underserved, everybody makes the team, and everybody gets to play.”
Almost 20 years later Mendoza’s vision has exceeded his own expectations and a lot of it is owed to the organization’s six pillars for success noted in his draft; Scholarship, Sportsmanship, Discipline, Leadership, Service and Teamwork.
Currently Atletico Santa Rosa totals 30 boys and girls teams who participate in levels ranging from recreational all the way to the Major League Soccer Next program, the ultimate player development platform for growth of each player, including technical, tactical, physical, mental, academic, and college placement.
“Atletico Santa Rosa has been a catalyst for many youth players in the region to earn scholarships to play in college and continue their education. And, for many of these recipients, they’ll be the first person in their respective families to go to college.” Shared Byron Mendoza, Mendoza’s son and the current acting Club Development Manager.
While Atletico is rich with an abundance of countless trophies, what really resonates in the organization is the amount of players they have helped reach the collegiate and professional level. Notable alumni include current midfielder for Major League Soccer club Minnesota United Jonathan Gonzales, LA Galaxy II’s Adrian Gonzales, Harvard University graduate Cesar Farías and Sacramento State University’s Erika Muñoz amongst many more. Just last month current members Sebastian Ventura, Victor Alvarado, Darian Guizar, Abdiel Ruiz Pelaez, and Robben Guevara were invited to the United States National Team Youth Camp to be observed by not only professional scouts but also colleges.
“We plan to keep supporting the community and the players to reach their full potential on and off the field. Atletico Santa Rosa is dedicated to providing children with the best resources and guidance to be great, both on and off the field using the beautiful game of soccer.”
Like most success stories, there’s continuous hard work and adversity to overcome with what goes on behind the scenes. Taking care of logistics, finding an adequate coaching staff and field space to run a club is something Mendoza quickly found out he couldn’t manage on his own when he started the first team under his club, Atletico Santa Rosa Milan. With that very team, which consisted of boys born in the 1993 age group category the founder ventured to play a tournament in Mexico in the spring of 2003. There he met Messias Souza Dos Santos, a Brazilian coach who at the time was working at a second division professional club. Upon connecting and sharing his mission with Dos Santos, Mendoza had found an important piece that was missing from his puzzle.
“I’m going with you.” Said Dos Santos to Mendoza after hearing the long term plans Atletico Santa Rosa had on paper.
“Everything sounded so beautiful on paper with his dream. Then, I got here and we had five kids,” Dos Santos recounted. “Then, we started to grow, because people started to believe it.”
With the growth came more opportunities and avenues to explore being able to provide a comfortable and accessible spot for players to practice year round.
210 Mountain View Avenue is that accessible property where soccer magic happens on a weekly basis. Whether it’s to simply have fun, work on their craft or interact with a caring community, players that have crossed the gates of the Atletico Santa Rosa Farm are secured a safe place to enjoy the beautiful game.
“Since the purchase of the property, it was our vision to have our own headquarters especially with the scarce resources and limited field availability from our county. Here we are able to provide a safe environment for the younger academy families.” Mentioned Byron Mendoza.
While the club’s older teams practice at the Santa Rosa Junior College, it is at the farm where most of it’s members took their first steps in the game. It’s a scared headquarters that’s a rarity to find in the United States as most clubs around the country face the adversity of having to seek out fields that aren’t widely available despite the growth of the sport.
“It’s nice to provide that space, especially for the little ones and their families. They really get a feel for what Atletico stands for before continuing their full player development process with the club.” Mentioned Byron Mendoza.
As the game has grown so do field requirements and with that the support of cities such as Santa Rosa and Petaluma have played a major role in ensuring Atletico are able to meet requirements to practice and play their high level home matches.
“We’re very thankful for the community of Sonoma County and all their support for allowing our older teams to practice on city fields such as Santa Rosa Junior College amongst many more. It’s really a big collaborative effort from our part, the players, coaches, families and sponsors to keep the organization running.” Concluded the Club’s Development Manager.
With already a large history in such a short time since its inception, Atletico Santa Rosa is bound to keep growing as the farm gates remain open for the community to keep expanding. Adolfo Mendoza’s vision continues to stay intact and serves as a prime example that the beautiful game is for everyone no matter the race, class or struggles.
ABOUT US CLUB SOCCER
A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible development environment for players of all ages.
US Club Soccer offers youth and adult registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms at the recreational and competitive levels, and a variety of other programming and services. Anchored by Players First, US Club Soccer supports all facets of youth soccer through the five pillars of Players First: Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety. Other programming elements include National Premier Leagues, the id² Program and Player Development Program, and the National Cup.
US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike and is supported by LaLiga through a technical partnership.