Alta California Sol
Alta California Sol is a new men’s and women’s club based out of Santa Barbara,CA. They play within the UPSL, where the men’s side has already proven the clubs winning mentality by winning its first three matches. So let’s get to know the club:
What is your name and role with Alta California Sol?
My name is d’Alary Dalton and I am the CEO/President and Co-Founder of Alta California Sol.
What is your background in the beautiful game?
My background in soccer is in coaching, research and club development. I hold a USSF A-License, USYS National Youth License and Advanced National and Director of Coaching Diplomas from the NSCAA/United Coaches. I also have a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Mills College where my research focus was on “How coaches balance teaching positive life skills and the importance of winning.” I have been a soccer coach and director for more than 25 years at a variety of levels including youth, high school, and college as well as for the Olympic Development Program. In 2013 I formed the non-profit Sol Soccer Club through the Sports Matter Grant from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Sol Soccer Club is the parent organization for Alta California Sol.
What inspired your name and crest?
We are super proud of the historical and regional references that make up our name and crest. Alta California refers to what our region was called prior to statehood, Upper California. Sol is Spanish for sun which is synonymous with California. The pelican represents a coastal bird that travels in flocks and hunt cooperatively. Under the pelican is the iconic Stearns Warf. It was local artist Hector Torres that put all these elements together.
Majority of your player pool is from Santa Barbara. How important is it for your club to reflect your community?
Growing our local soccer community means everything to us. We take pride in providing an opportunity for local players to move up and play at the next level whether that be with our team, in college or professionally. Equally important to us is that the men and women who play for Alta California Sol inspire the youth to play soccer and stay in the game longer.
How has the community responded to having an amateur soccer club?
The positive response of our immediate families and fans has been tremendous. We’ve also been very fortunate that our most popular local online news source, Noozhawk, has reported on our games and published several write-ups.
I believe that Alta California Sol is part of a revolution occurring in grassroots soccer, that revolution of fielding both a men's and women's side. Why has it been important for the club to provide an equal playing opportunity for all players in its community?
Throughout my career I have watched as the number of girls playing soccer continues to decline, there are fewer women coaches, and more troubling is pervasive belief that girls and women are choosing to not step up or stay in the game. Locally, all this is taking place in a time when there are a record number of girls trying out for their high school teams and we have four highly successful college women’s soccer programs. Clearly soccer loving girls and women are here so it only makes sense to provide the next level opportunity for the women who want to play. These women will be pioneers in creating a pathway for young girls to stay in the game.
What have been the biggest challenges to starting a men's and women's side?
By far our greatest challenge to starting our men’s and women’s programs has been to secure a long-term agreement for fields, for both training and games.
What is the future for Alta California Sol?
We are very optimistic about the future progression of Alta California Sol. As an organization, we have a dedicated and passionate staff that work tirelessly to ensure our on the field success. Already our men’s team has demonstrated that they are ready to compete at the next level. Enthusiasm in the lead up to forming our women’s team has been great. We’re very encouraged by the feedback from women players in the area who are excited about the opportunity to play locally. With the success of our teams we expect to connect our players to the community through clinics and outreach efforts.
What role does grassroots soccer play in the U.S. Soccer landscape?
Grassroots soccer has an enormous role to play in providing the greatest number of kids and young adults all the opportunities and benefits that being a participant in sports has to offer. When done purposefully, we believe that soccer is the perfect sport to support and promote the health and well-being of youth and the community by bringing people together through a shared passion for the game of soccer.
How do you feel about the current state of soccer in our country?
There are many good people working hard to improve soccer at all levels of our sport and there is plenty of room for improvement. I am most encouraged by those who are advocating for a more inclusive and open system. Although we are not going to change the chronic problems facing soccer in our country with our 2 teams, our organization is deeply committed to having a lasting positive impact on our players and our community.