By Matt Schwab
Special to Mustang Soccer
Recreational play not only brings energy and vitality to Mustang, but it can also set the tone for a soccer-filled life.
Consider the story of Mustang Boys Recreational Director Marianne Winter-Greene. Her soccer journey started when she was 9 years old and wanted to join a neighborhood friend in the Mustang Rec league. She was hooked.
“I went to one of her practices and I really liked it,” Winter-Greene recalled last week. “I came home and told my parents and so they signed me up. I played Rec and then I played Red Division for a couple years, had some really phenomenal coaches, and then played what was Al Caffodio back then.”
She went on to compete for the Monte Vista High varsity team for three years and then at Cal State Hayward (now Cal State East Bay). She also coaches the Monte Vista freshman girls team with fellow Mustang Soccer board member Scott McDougall.
“I was always a very proud Monte Vista girl, Mustang girl,” she recalls.
Rec soccer continues to set the tone for Mustang kids who often grow up to become ECNL stars and North Coast Section champions.
“Truthfully, the Rec league is the biggest program and it’s what feeds into the competitive stuff because most people start out at Rec and build their way up,” says Winter-Greene, who coached her sons in the club. “I feel like it’s the heart and soul of Mustang. Everything’s pretty much run on volunteers. The coaches are volunteers, the refs, every team has to have a parent ref,” she continued.
Mustang Soccer League has over 4,700 kids registered yearly, ages 5 through 18. The club utilizes 31 soccer fields at 15 separate schools or park sites.
A soccer lifer, Winter-Greene, 50, has remained active in the Diablo Adult Soccer League and in a Fremont adult league. Heck, she even met her husband, John Greene, playing indoor soccer at Cal High. The Winter-Greene family has three boys, Maxwell, Jake, and Casey.
Consider Marianne an invaluable asset for the Mustang Soccer family.
“Marianne is a great ambassador for our club,” coaching director John Doyle said. “We are so lucky and thankful to have her.”
With the shelter in place stymieing soccer leagues nationwide, Winter-Greene and Tripp McNutt, the Girls Recreational Director, are working with registrar Liz Granados and others to make sure the league is ready when things finally reopen.
It’s a challenging time for everyone.
“Right now, the main thing we’re trying to do is to recruit coaches, so if the league does open up, we’ll be set and ready to form the teams,” Winter-Greene shares. “We’re also trying to get age group coordinators that are the kind of liaisons with the coaches and the directors. Everything’s by email right now because there’s no hands-on contact or anything.”
Winter-Greene agrees that Mustang does a good job keeping young players engaged and excited.
“I do think it’s true,” she says. “Like before the season starts John Doyle will come and do a free clinic for all the kids and the players, and that’s one thing I remembered because I coached my own kids. He was just this big presence and we’re like ‘Wow, that’s John Doyle from the Earthquakes,’” she recalls. “… I think it’s really nice that’s he’s connected, and he does clinics at the beginning of the season just to get kids involved and to learn a little more before they go out and play.”
She also describes Mustang Executive Director Fred Wilson as “amazing” and “very knowledgeable” and will do anything to help anyone in the club.
Another big Mustang asset are coaching clinics.
“They’re really nice for beginners, because there’s that coach that maybe wanted to coach but they’re not sure, so they go to these clinics and learn and get their confidence about it as well,” she says.
Clearly, the journey always starts in Rec play for the Mustang kids: It's where the seeds of the mighty club’s ECNL bumper crops are sown.