soccer by the sierras

Comstock Shootout

For the last year I was the coach of a U14 club team AYSO United Davis, which meant practices twice a week and games every weekend. It was pretty busy, and was one of the reasons I put organizing our monthly sketchcrawls on hold. This was our first season as a new club in the NorCal Premier League, and our team had mixed success, although one of the older girls’ teams won the State Cup, which was pretty exciting. (Speaking of female teams winning trophies…well done to the Lionesses winning Euro 2022!! That was brilliant watching England, an actual England team, win a trophy, when the mens’ team could not. Wicked.) Our boys’ team did not end up winning any trophies, though we played in a few tournaments and made some good memories for the kids. I had coached for several years so knew most of the players for a long time, watching them develop. One tournament we went to was the Comstock Shootout in Carson City, Nevada, which involved a long drive over the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains into the high desert. We have been there before on a previous tournament in 2017 when my son was much younger, playing on a U10 team that I didn’t coach, and I did sketch a panorama of the mountainous backdrop back then too (see: https://petescully.com/2017/06/10/over-the-mountains-in-the-high-desert/). It’s a dramatic location for a tournament, played up at a higher altitude of over 4000 feet, and we stayed in nearby Minden – see the view below from our room. The panorama above, that was drawn between two of our games (one which we lost but was close, and one which we won). I had a couple of hours, so I went to watch another Davis team, the older boys form one of the rec Select teams, beating a local Carson City team. I had to sit near the guy with the huge lime green mohawk. It’s like, yeah mate you are getting sketched, you looks cool. Contrast to all the soccer moms and pops on their chairs with their big drinks yelling “pressure!”. Actually in terms of parents comments this was a pretty good one, most of them were positive and encouraging, but we certainly saw some of the opposite of that this season. In our last tournament in Concord one of the parents got red carded and threw a wobbly, I was impressed with how the ref handled that. I’ve been mostly on the coaching side for a few years though, but I remember several years ago when I was on the parents’ side with my sketchbook, and well, if you were a shouty yelling touchline parent, you were getting sketched and I was writing down all your shouts. Well in this game they were all pretty ok. It’s hard drawing all the players as they move around the field, and you have to check yourself to make sure you are drawing the right number. Still, the Davis boys won 3-1, I was pleased for the players and coaches (one of whom actually did coach my son last time he played at this tournament), because some of the other teams they had to play at this one were brutal. You get that at tournaments, an interesting mix of levels, but you come to these for the memories it gives to the kids. The Sierra Nevadas at Carson City makes a pretty memorable backdrop.

Minden NV

I decided to call it a day at the end of the season and hung up my coaching boots, I was pretty exhausted. So, as the new season starts I will be out on the other side again, sketchbook in hand, drawing the shouty sidelines.

PS: The Women’s Euros are over, and now the Men’s Premier League will begin this weekend. 30 years since the Premier League launched! I think I’m ready for the footy to return, but I needed a break from watching it, last season was just too long. I used to do a post on this blog each year with a run down of each team and a little pixel drawing of their kit, with predictions for the season but…I can’t be bothered. I just hope Spurs do well under Conte. I’m still celebrating the Lionesses!

The 2019 Davis World Cup!

DWC Logo 1x

Last week was the Davis World Cup, an annual youth soccer tournament organized by AYSO. This year, we were on the organizing committee (I did the website and designed the logo, my wife handled all the t-shirts and medals and pins and everything). I was really happy with this year’s logo (above) and a lot of people really liked it, we got many nice compliments. It was pretty cool seeing loads of people going around with this on their shirts. My son was also playing in the tournament this year, for the Davis Dawgs, 12U-Boys. Each team is assigned a FIFA country in the Davis World Cup – we were the Cayman Islands. I didn’t coach this year, so I was on the parents side, and while I didn’t sketch that much I did capture one of the games below. This was our second game – we had lost the first one to Antelope (7-2), and unfortunately lost this one as well, to Mountain View Tornadoes, 3-2. Both really good teams. My son did score in each game though, but had to wait until the third game for his hat-trick.

DWC 2019 CaymanIslands-v-Luxembourg
Unfortunately we got knocked out in the eliminations so didn’t make it until Monday. So on Monday morning I walked over to the park (it’s handy the games are only a few steps from my house) and watch Antelope play Winters in an epic quarter final, ultimately won by Winters in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. I sketched the game below. Winters ended up winning the final later that day in an even more dramatic game, against San Mateo, once more in a penalty shoot-out.
DWC 2019 Winters-v-Antelope
Hundreds of games, many hundreds of players, the Davis World Cup was another success.

over the mountains, in the high desert

Comstock Panorama April 2017 sm

At the end of April, we drove over the Sierra Nevada mountains, still heavily packed with quickly melting snow, across the state line into Nevada. My son played AYSO Select this year at the U10 level, and his team (the Davis “Duh”) were off to play in their third tournament, the Comstock Shootout at Carson City. It was a two-day tournament, playing against other teams from northern California, but the location was utterly spectacular. The backdrop of the snow-peaked Sierras on one side, and rocky high desert hills on the other, this was, let’s say, a little bit different from Davis. The sketch above, a panorama in pencil and watercolour in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, was sketched in roughly 20-25 minutes while our team warmed up elsewhere; this was actually the U14 team, the Davis Dissent, for whom several older brothers of our lads were playing. But I couldn’t resist those mountains! I was trying to channel my French urban sketching friend Vincent Desplanche, who does amazing sketches up in the mountains back in Europe. Davis is too flat for mountains, they are usually too far in the distance.

Comstock Duh practice

The altitude was high, so our players had more sub breaks during the games (our coach was really good at managing that). I was reminded of when South American teams go and play in Bolivia, and struggle with the altitude in La Paz, which the Bolivian players are well used to. This was so problematic that between 2007 and 2008 FIFA actually banned international games from being played at above 8,200 feet. Carson City is at around 4,800 so nowhere near that high, but you do feel it. I was also reminded of when Premier League teams go to West Brom, who have the highest ground in England, and they often struggle with the altitude, which is a whopping 551 feet, so actually it’s more the Tony Pulis tactics they struggle against.

Comstock game sketches

We were actually put to the test though by another team who were much more used to playing at altitude, a team from the town of Bishop, which is in California but on the High Desert side of the Sierras. Bishop is at 4,150 feet, and their players definitely outplayed ours, giving us our only defeat of the competition (and a pretty big one too). Davis, I might add, is only 52 feet above sea level. We may not be mountain-top athletes, but our cakes are baked to perfection. Above, here are some sketches I did during the game.

Minden Holiday Inn, Nevada

We stayed in the nearby town of Minden, at the Holiday Inn. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Minden, so in the evening while my son slept I grabbed a cold drink from the gas station across the street and sketched in the seating area of the hotel. I brought my books about perspective, as I was planning for my workshop in June, and so couldn’t help a nice bit of interior perspective. It was very yellow in there, though.

Minden Nevada

And here are those mountains again, this time sketched from our hotel window in the morning. It’s pretty beautiful there with that backdrop. I’d like to explore that part of Nevada some day, the High Desert, see some of the old abandoned ghost towns. I’d like to go to Virginia City, where they filmed that TV show Bonanza; I remember once joking it would be fun to do a sketchcrawl there, but at the end you would have to burn your sketches and ride off on horses, like in the opening credits. Tell you what though, those mountains look really pretty but that snow was melting fast. As we drove back over it, you could see it all stacked high but weeping in any direction, with waterfalls gushing and creeks rushing. And the rocks…we saw a huge boulder which had fallen into the road and forced a big car to swerve off, and passed the section of highway that had been partially washed away by the heavy rain and snow in the winter. It was a fun trip, definitely a change of scenery, and a cool tournament for the boys to play in.