OCWeekly February 18, 2016 : Page 10

COUNTY county | CLASSIFIEDS | MUSIC | CULTURE | FILM | FOOD | CALENDAR | FEATURE | THE | CONTENTS | | | classiFieds | music | culture | Film | Food | calendar | feature | the | contents MORALES’ LADY EAGLES TAKE ON ORANGE LUTHERAN ROGERS: PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF STRIKERS FUTBOL CLUB JOHN GILHOOLEY JOHN GILHOOLEY Fever Pitch » FROM PAGE 9 ith a coaching career spanning almost half a century, Bobak is the sage of OC soccer. He began coaching in 1972, when he moved to California. His Brazilian roots gave him an edge, and Bobak’s perspective on the sport and how it’s played was W instantly respected. “It was just AYSO [American Youth Soccer Organization],” he says. “People knew I was from Brazil and played the game. They wanted me to help coach their players.” Bobak coached club soccer at first and, in 1982, co-founded the Cal-South Olympic Development Program (ODP), which provided a place for gifted female soccer players in Southern California to compete against other technically BOBAK: ORANGE COUNTY’S SOCCER SAGE 10 JOHN GILHOOLEY refined and competitive teams. More important, however, it gave young girls a platform to explore the potential of their athletic aptitude. “I just wanted to give the girls an arena to exercise their God-given talent,” Bobak says. But Bobak went beyond that. His work in developing the ODP curricu-lum produced Foudy and Joy Fawcett, two Orange County soccer players who helped the United States win the first Women’s World Cup in 1991. His pro-gram initiated the relationship between local and professional soccer. As the current program director for the SoCal Blues soccer club, he contin-ues to provide an environment for girls to express and develop their talents . “There’s a whole family of us coaches in Orange County who are working together to create a place for world-class talent to develop,” says Bobak. “Our goal is to inspire them, as well as foster their passion.” Bobak names West Coast Futbol Club, Strikers FC and Slammers FC as some of the most important OC soccer clubs, given their track record in providing girls with an environment to evolve as players. The three clubs are responsible for a handful of national team players, showcasing the success of their club-wide soccer philosophy. But perhaps the most direct link between local and pro-fessional soccer is Rogers. His signature zen demeanor and soft-spoken approach to coaching guides and nurtures players in a way that kindles creativity within teams, making him one of the best coaches in the United States. With encouragement from Bobak, Rogers got involved in the Orange County girls’ soccer scene full-time in 1995, when he became the director of Mission Viejo Soccer Club, which ’91 World Cup winner Julie Foudy came from. “The team was very talented,” says Rogers. “But it was more than just win-ning; it was about developing the players in hopes to advance them to ODP.” Rogers’ central focus on the develop-ment of players has resulted in dozens of girls advancing to Division I col-legiate soccer and the pros. The smart, elegant soccer that Rogers instills in his players opens up a world of pos-sibilities for them, as many of them are scouted for ODP, university teams and national programs. Lake Forest soccer legend Amy Rodri-guez is a prime example. Although graced with athleticism and talent, with-out Rogers’ guidance, Rodriguez may never have pushed herself to receive multiple All-American awards and the Gatorade Player of the Year award at Santa Margarita Catholic High School (SMCHS). She broke records at USC, where she became one of the university’s leading goal scorers and led her team to an NCAA championship. Before graduat-ing from college, Rodriguez made the Olympic roster for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2008; in Bejing, OCWEEKLY.COM | | ocweekly.com MONTH XX–XX, February 19-25, 2014 2016

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