The West Coast Chaos sounds like something Hurricane Ian left in its wake, but it actually is a group of highly committed and skilled young soccer players from the Englewood area.
There are a number of teams under the “Chaos” umbrella, both boys and girls teams, but the team getting recognition at this point is the Under 12 boys team, which just won its second consecutive championship of the Best of the Bay tournament, held annually in St. Petersburg. The Chaos teams play competitive soccer, as opposed to the less intense recreational form of the game.
“With the commitment and determination these kids play,” said coach Mark Hertz, “the parents and coaches and the community can’t help but be proud.
Coach Hertz is also the boys soccer coach at Lemon Bay High School. The assistant coach is Dustin Kirby, who also coaches the under 14 girls Chaos team.
One proud mother, Angel Clark, whose son is a member of the team, wanted the world to know the accomplishments of the team. Her son, Joseph Lokay, has been a member of the team for two years. He is a student at L.A. Ainger Middle School.
“He is part of an amazing team that love each other and work together to the fullest,” she said. “I was hoping to let the whole community know about their success, not just for knowledge, but also for all those who contributed donations; and for every Publix store we sat at to raise money for this competition.”
Coach Hertz said this is the second consecutive year the team has won the tournament crown. He reported that the competition was especially stiff this year, but the boys were determined and came through as winners. West Coast Chaos was one of eight teams this year, from across the state of Florida. For much of the year the team was undefeated, but lost to one rival in two separate matches.
“In this tournament, however, they over came them finally and the smile on these kids faces could tell the whole story,” reported Mom Clark.
Coach Hertz has taught at Lemon Bay for eight years, and at Ainger before that. He and his family have established deep roots in the community and one of his two sons is a member of the championship Chaos team.
The Chaos webpage states that the competitive program is “designed to meet the needs of players that desire a more challenging playing environment than that provided by our recreational program. Our mission is to provide training and competition in a safe, supportive manner while demanding the highest standards of sportsmanship, fair play, and player development.”
For the junior teams (under 11 to under 14) conditioning begins over the summer, with official team practices typically beginning in August. Their games run from October through February. Junior teams usually play around 10 regular season games, with half of those games played in Englewood and the other half away. The away game travel can vary from season to season, but typically the range is from South Tampa to South Fort Myers. Junior teams practice twice a week and play their competitive matches on the weekend. After the regular season games have concluded, junior teams typically play in 1-2 spring tournaments.
Recruiting for all teams will be coming up in May. Try-outs for girls teams for under 9 to under 19, are May 2 and 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. For boys teams of the same age groupings, they are May 4 and 5, also from 6 to 8 p.m. Tryouts take place at the Englewood Sports Complex,1300 South River Rd., Englewood.