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Ceres Youth Soccer rec league draws 900 players
Lexi Avila-Keo
Lexi Avila-Keo and the Pink Tigers played against the Blue Queens in the under-8 girls division of Ceres Youth Soccer Organization recreational league play this past month at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. - photo by Dale Butler

Ceres Youth Soccer leaders passed out trophies during the final day of the organization's 40th season on Oct. 29 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

“We’re a family-friendly league,” said Lou Toste, 72, longtime president of CYSO. “We’re very organized. People respect us. We respect them. We’ve been very successful because we have a lot of volunteers. Ceres Parks and Recreation have also done a great job supporting us.”

About 900 boys and girls, aged 4-15, signed up for the organization’s 10-week recreational season.

Registration was $100 per participant. That covered the cost for uniforms, trophies and insurance.

“We’re going to extend our registration next year to give people more time to sign up,” Toste said.

The 2022 season got underway on Aug. 20. The league had more than 80 teams.

CYSO had boys and girls teams for the following age groups: under-14, U-12, U-10, U-8 and U-6.

The organization’s U-16 age group was co-ed. 

Games were played from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

Eight of the complex’s nine fields were used.

“It’s a rec league but it’s competitive,” said Audel Valencia, head coach of the Pink Tigers under-8 girls team.”

CYSO and other sports organizations throughout California were forced to cancel their 2020 seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everything stopped because of COVID,” Toste said. “It (enrollment) is slowly starting to come back. I’m pretty happy. But I’d prefer to see more kids playing.”

Toste has been affiliated with CYSO since the beginning. 

Tom Passalaqua and his late wife Johnny founded the organization in 1982.

About 120 youngsters signed up for CYSO’s inaugural season.

Prior to the opening of the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park’s soccer complex, games were held at different sites throughout the city. Families and relatives had to make their rounds between Smyrna Park, Walter White, Sam Vaughn, Mae Hensley and Blaker-Kinser.

“I started as a coach for my kids,” Toste said. “My oldest son is 49 now. People have come and left. I stayed. This is what I love to do because it’s for the kids. When somebody thanks me for what I do, it means a lot.”

Toste coached his grandson Joey’s under-12 Sharks team this fall. 

“We were short coaches and I jumped in,” he said. “I usually coach every year. I will always be here to help out as long as I can walk.”

Ella Goblirsch
Ella Goblirsch attempts a shot during the Blue Queens under-8 girls soccer game versus the Pink Tigers. - photo by Dale Butler