There was some weird, spooky stuff going on this past weekend — all happening within a tight 18-hour span on the UCSB campus!!
First, Friday eve at Harder Stadium …
A record 13,467 passionate fans (tops in noise, tortilla tosses & attendance this NCAA soccer season) watch their beloved, nationally ranked Gauchos men’s team lose a heartbreaker, when the not nationally ranked Cal Poly (SLO) Mustangs score in the 89th minute to tie it up, then win it minutes later in OT, 2-1.
Then Saturday …
As the UCSB men’s water polo team (then the #3 team in the USA) was taking a (then #2) UCLA Bruin ‘Speedo Spanking’ a la 10-5 — a new phenomena was already taking shape across campus …
Over by the tennis courts …
On the AYSO soccer fields.
AYSO as in American Youth Soccer Organization.
Parents know it better as: All Your Saturdays (are) Over.
Can’t recall the last time I saw an AYSO game here — been years!!
Definitely before those ginormous new dorms wiped out the second row of playing fields … parking was then two or three dollars (now $5!!)… and the dirt dusty lot (paved now) meant washing the minivan, at least once, every weekend.
And on these same fields with a zillion memories all melded together watching both daughters, Kelsey & Taryn, play years earlier — something never ever witnessed before!!
Something never believed possible!!
And noticed immediately upon walking through the black chain link fence (also new since last visit) pass-through opening on the fields’ outer northern boundary….
At least — no yelling … no ‘riding the refs’ …. no adults providing loving encouragement beyond polite applause — the kind normally reserved for golf tourneys.
Sooo quiet that one could even hear the players communicating with each another on the dirt-bumpy, mostly grass fields…
SILENT SATURDAY has arrived in Santa Barbara!!
And it’s nothing new to AYSO …
“Other regions do it and we decided to try it here,” said Ken Sorgman, Assistant Referee Administrator for AYSO Region 122 – the local governing section for nearly 3,000 kids on teams ranging from beginner (Under age 6) to U19.
It works like this here:
- Very early in the season, coaches, teams and parents were advised that this weekend would be designated as ‘Silent Saturday.’
- Fans were encouraged to demonstrate support by non-verbal actions such as clapping vs. words
- Coaches were able to talk to their teams before/after games and quarter/halftime breaks.
- Each team provided one volunteer who wore a red ‘Silent Saturday Field Monitor’ shirt and provided lollipops as friendly reminders to verbal fans on the sidelines.
Sure wish they had employed this novel concept awhile back …
In the interest of full (TMI?) journalistic disclosure – this potentially award winning investigative sportz reporter (Note: nothing yet but heard the Pulitzer Committee is meeting next week) was once a ‘too vocal soccer fanatic’ who roamed the sidelines providing seemingly loud, constant ‘color commentary’ on games … officiating … positioning –- you name it!!
Silent Saturday would have been a very excellent and humbling ‘lesson learned’ years earlier … that is, before that one referee’s warning did the trick!!
Now fast forward to the weekend action ….
While visiting with friends Rich and Dawn Schroeder on the eastern sidelines, well, Dawn very innocently temporary ‘loses it’ when daughter, Erica scores a goal for “That Orange Team” — she cheers!!
Ooops!! Not today, Gurlfriend!!
She immediately catches herself then quickly slumps deep down in her folding beach chair awaiting a tap on the shoulder from the red shirted Noise Police to hand her a lollipop!!
(Pssst: She lucks out. They never come.)
“It’s all an experience for parents and coaches to learn from,” sums up Sorgman.
“The kids appear to be talking more with each other on the field. Plus, most of the coaching is done in practice — we’re not really sure how much they actually hear their coaches on the sidelines,” he added.
Or their parents ….
As Sorgman speaks to Presidio Sports at the referee headquarters tent, a red-shirted dad comes flying in …
“We’re down by 4 goals!” he exclaimed. “And I’m out of suckers!”
He quickly grabs a bunch.
It all sez a lot this pre-Halloween weekend …
And begs the question here:
What if every weekend was Silent Saturday??
Maybe that’s a little too spooky after all …