Going On Fifty: Riverside Coras FC 2019 Introductory Press Conference

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Stability for a lower league club is always in question. The United States Soccer Federation has continually ignored the teams within the lower tiers of U.S. Soccer and this has forced the closing of many great soccer clubs. Soccer history is being washed away with the sands of time and few clubs offer a true soccer history that predates MLS. While I can’t speak to the tradition and history for all clubs, I can speak for one: my club, the Riverside Coras Football Club.

On December 29th, 2018, the Coras held their 2019 introductory press conference. A lot of work went into this operation. Over the course of ten days, including the holidays, the staff and I went into a frenzy to prepare for this occasion. We found a home for our fans, gathered our videographers, promoted the event and put together one of the best looking presentations I have seen within the lower leagues, all for the cost of hard work and a few appetizers for our guests. We managed to pack the conference room with squad members, fans, partners and media members, all for this game we call local soccer.

This conference was more than just an introduction to the season. We discussed our history, our new coaching staff and what to expect in 2019, our 50th season. The Coras have a rich and vibrant history that will continue to develop each and every year and this press conference displayed the professionalism and passion that would make any lower league fan happy to call this team their own.

A Professional Expectation

With Founders Cup and NPSL Pro on the horizon, professionalism within the NPSL has become a huge topic. While my club doesn’t hold the budget to go pro within the next few years, we do everything in our power to present the best product to our fans and the other team owners within the league.

During the process of planning we discovered a hidden gem of a restaurant, La Casa Ortega, which is now the future hub of all social activity for the club. It’s half a mile away from our new stadium and offers a bar, conference room, traditional seating, and a meeting room perfect for future live shows. For this initial event we managed to bring in over fifty people to help celebrate the occasion. To shoot the event we had three cameras, three mics, and a switch board that provided an incredible live experience for our fans at home. The event was unlike anything I have seen in the NPSL.

The whole event lasted over two hours and gave fans plenty of opportunities to mingle with all of the Coras family. It was the perfect event to start our 50th season.

Honoring the Dream

The dream began in 1969 when owner Robert Lopez-Guardado’s father and uncles immigrated to Los Angeles after their playing careers ended in Mexico. With the passion of the sport still coursing through their veins, they created Coras de Los Angeles and began play in the California League. The club remained active and wouldn’t move to Riverside, CA until 2013. That October Riverside Coras FC would host its first tryout. Destiny would have her hand in play as both Shane Shelton and Jimmy Ross would walk onto the field, taking their first steps into the legendary status with the club.

I still remember in October of 2013 we hosted tryouts at Riverside Community Park. That’s where I met Shane and Jimmy for the first time. Besides being talented players they also had the qualities to be great leaders and great captains. Since day one they were our co-captains. For them to move up and become our coaching staff, it only made sense. They are local players, they have been in the community since childhood, they went to school out here, they are both students from La Sierra University and they are pretty much a part of our family and so we are very excited to have them continue to grow within our program.
— Robert Lopez-Guardado

Joining the Coras has been like joining a big family. I’ve been welcomed with open arms and continue to be taught different lessons about growing a club. After attending the games last year, I could see that family atmosphere. Robert would consistently make his way through the crowd greeting almost every person in the stadium and he made time with everyone. Understanding the history of our club is important and you can tell by the passion that is displayed on and off the field. The Coras have twelve volunteers on staff and even more that help pitch in on gameday. While the originators of this club want to see success on the field, they are all proud of environment created by each staff member, player, and fan. That is how we honor the dream set so long ago.

“We want to do something special in the Summer. We want to invite the pioneers of Coras de Los Angeles. Those that are still with us, we want to invite them to come out and host an event to honor them. We want to let them know that we are here to continue to keep their dream alive, the dream that began in 1969.”

A New Coaching Staff for a New Era

One thing I have always preached is that any business should always develop a pipeline of promotion. For the Coras that means sending players to greater playing opportunities, helping volunteers take their careers to the next level, and even having team captains become coaches. While Shane Shelton and Jimmy Ross have helped coach the youth of Riverside, coaching in the NPSL is at a whole different level. A level I, and both Shane and Jimmy feel they are ready for.

Their first task was hosting the first tryout to help try and find the right local talent to put on the field.

We had close to fifty kids trying out. A bunch of talent. We want a bunch of young kids and I thought we had a solid group of boys come out and we have invited most of them to come back out to the first practice on January 3rd. We are in talks of bringing back a few players who have experience at the NPSL level, because it’s a different monster than what most of the kids [trying out] have played against in the past. So we are trying to find the right blend of young, hungry players with older, experienced guys to help mentor our younger players throughout the season.
— Shane Shelton, Head Coach and General Manager

Now that the player selection process is well underway, the coaching staff has taken to implementing our identity. An identity that not only defines the club, but the community that it resides in.

“We have always been a gritty, hungry, passionate blue-collar team. We represent the community in that aspect, but I think we have moved away from that in the past couple of years. That is something we are really looking for in the players we are bringing into the squad this year,” says Shane Shelton.

“We have been a part of the Coras since day one. We paid to be in that first tryout at the community park. We have seen a lot of players come and go, we have seen new coaches and have basically seen it all with the Coras. I think we have a really grounded foundation of what has been successful in the past. We need to bring in a young talented group of guys that are willing to buy into a system. It’s not always the best players who win, but the hungriest and I think we have that here,” added Jimmy Ross, assistant coach and team manager.

All that’s left for coach Shane and Jimmy is to prepare their squad for the upcoming season. This year in the NPSL South West eleven teams will fight it out over twenty match days, beginning in February. The goal is to make it back to the NPSL playoffs this season, but what is more important is creating a culture within the club. A culture that promotes hard work, teamwork and a pathway to the next level of a player’s career. A path that our new coaching staff has walked before.

- Steven Ramirez