JASA RWC (Redwood City)
Just weeks away from the end of their 2018 UPSL Fall Season, JASA RWC are taking a break from their table-topping performance to focus on the US Open Cup’s third qualifying round. It will determine which clubs make the cut and get to the tournament proper in 2019. We caught the jitters while preparing for a few of the matchups so we reached out to the Wild West South leaders JASA RWC to see what they are all about. Jake Morrison answered the call and provided an in-depth look at a Bay Area organization nearing their second decade in operation. It turns out that they are as excited for the match as we are!
When and how were you founded; Does the club have any connections to an existing youth system?
We have a bit of a convoluted history. Staying true to our many layers we have been around since 1999. We have essentially two godfathers of our program; Tono Aspinall who is the originator and Tom Gaa who carried the torch. And then there is myself (Jake Morrison) and Will Stambaugh who are carrying the water for the future of the program. From the beginning the program has served two purposes:
Maintain a highly competitive avenue for local players
To serve and enrich our local community on and off the field
Our program is at the tail end of a long-term development model and our hope would be to create a cradle to grave soccer and social option within our community. With the hope that other clubs would follow suit and we could really begin to grow the game and the opportunities for local players. But at the moment the best we can do is showcase what it is we do and with the youth coaches we have playing with in our ranks continue to have conversations about questioning the current landscape of youth and amateur football locally and nationally.
For us this is just the beginning. We have a clear vision on where we want to go and eventually what we like to be but it is important for us to have a good foundation before we explore plans of expanding. At the moment the best we can do is just be the best that at who we currently are.
What were the motivations behind the badge, mascot and colors? Are there any connections to, or inspirations drawn from, other clubs in the world?
Since our transformation to “Just JASA” we wanted to keep it simple and build from there. We have a lot of creative folks who are a part of our program and there have been a lot of great ideas that we have explored. From various block prints to even something that looks a lot of like the Juventus of Torino but with a double layered J (it’s debatable who came up with it first). Even with what we currently use on a lot of our social platforms like the tree with the words wrapped around, which have all been done in house. Right now, we are settled on our crest for our jersey’s its simple and it says everything that needs to be said. We hope to have some more options for our fans in the new year as we step up our merch game.
What are the goals of the organization; does that include an ambition to grow quickly or more just see how it goes?
I would say I personally am much more conservative than many of my colleagues when it comes to our growth. I have seen it, we all have seen it where clubs don’t stick around. Either its one or done, or their model is simply not sustainable (pump and dump the cash). We got to where we are because have taken our sweet time. We have essentially 3 programs running right now. Our UPSL team, our Dos team, and our women’s program which is run only in the summer. We have clearly been pretty good at building the upper ends of amateur football over the years. And right now, that is our bread and butter. In the immediate future we want to continue to do more for each levels of our program. Example: More national playing exposure for our first team, entering higher level of competitions for our Dos group like the Open Cup, and for our women’s program get it running in a year around playing model. Part of that we are already doing by entering in the US Open Cup for 2019 with the first team. Because we are part of a qualifying league, we can enter the initial qualifying rounds. I suspect that within a year or two depending on how long it’s been since the UPSL will meet all the guaranteed qualifications pathways, we will have teams apart of the league getting automatic entries into the first round. We are at the tail end of qualifying right now and so far, it’s been a great experience for our guys and by the grace of the soccer gods and hard work we hope to keep pushing forward and do what we do.
We have come along way and we continue to have ambition to reach the highest levels. We just believe you do that in a different way than the structure is currently outlined for Clubs in America. So, part of where we go and what we do will shift based on the landscape of Amateur → Semi Professional → Professional levels. With some of this our hand our tied. So, we continue to advocate for an open system and build a club in our vision.
Are there any players who've made an instant impact? Anybody notable who's come from another league or club?
Our pool is in my opinion quite deep. We have had guys come through, guys leave, guys come back and guys who are currently with us who have some pretty impressive resumes. From youth international caps, full international caps, to solid college careers, dudes playing abroad, to guys who have just been ballin’ all their lives on Sundays and maybe just have had the luck to crack the next level.
Do you have an existing or budding rivalry? Do you see rivalry as an important part of growing the fan side or an organization, or a distraction?
Not rivalries per se but quality matches. Every time we line up against Oakland Stompers we know it’s going to be a match. They have been around for a long time and have a quality staff and ownership group and a deep player pool.
And this is important and wonderful because they are right across the bridge. Every game we play against them you get fans from both clubs making the trek. And that is important. And you can see that there a people repping us and there are people repping them. We are in the amateur ranks and we will not continue to grow unless our fan base does. And as our fan base grows, we would love and will encourage them to be more than spectators. They can see the level, they enjoy the level and then you begin to create more ties to the club from within the community. Part of the what we would love to create is a membership organization where there is community ownership of the club.
How do you feel about clubs being politically active? Should they just stick to soccer or is there a responsibility to be a part of the community?
Community first. This the area that will always be there and has already given so much to what we have, what we do, and what we are. Sometimes that mean’s being a little political. And this can be political in the soccer landscapes and political in elections. Our team is like a lot of communities, a diverse melting pot and we are lucky that we have this one thing in common, which is the game, and we will use that as a driving force for as much good as we possibly can.
Is there anything important to you YOU that I missed?
We all have an idea of what a proper club could/should look like and for us it’s a model that is built around the community and service, and playing the game in a certain way. If you take away that last part as that is debatable but you would say okay those other two things you would say are foundations on which any club could build there program around.. But then what? Where to from here? There are a lot of people who talk about this and one guys from our area Adam Lewin from FC Davis wrote a piece and the title is appropriate “The Fight For American Soccer”. (you can read it here). You had Dennis Crowley who wrote his very transparent piece on building his program (you can read it here). There are people across this country who are operating at very successful level and fighting for this game. We personally have had great conversations with our neighbors to the north SF City FC and how they operate and trying to find new ways to change our structure. There are a lot of great things happening and there are a lof of great things that have been done in the past, hell other countries are changing the way they operate (India, Australia). Seems like a no-brainer that we need to get on the same page; Integrated systems, integrated player registration, integrated competitions, integrated pathway.
And just one last thing.
There are many folks that I can list who are fed up with the current system (Ted, Dennis Crowley, John Pranjic, The Kleiban’s etc etc etc). Even if guys like Adam’s path is different than ours he is fighting for the game. He is doing something in his community right or wrong to do more and offer more pathways.
Basically, what I am trying to say is that it is shitty that we are even having to write or talk about this. The federation needs to get their act together.
Thanks for the spotlight and appreciate what you guys at Protagonist Soccer are doing!!!