Quite the February hat trick for OVYSL

These are heady days for the Orchard Valley Youth Soccer
League.
In February, the OVYSL had a key, long-time organizer inducted
into the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA) Hall of Fame,
saw one of its coaches named the National Coach of the Year and
watched a first-year soccer team advance all the way to the State
Cup Final Eight.
These are heady days for the Orchard Valley Youth Soccer League.

In February, the OVYSL had a key, long-time organizer inducted into the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA) Hall of Fame, saw one of its coaches named the National Coach of the Year and watched a first-year soccer team advance all the way to the State Cup Final Eight.

It was the kind of hat trick for the local league, which is made up of players from Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy and South San Jose, that most youth soccer leagues can only dream about.

A little more than a decade after her husband, Jack Salvemini, was inducted, OVYSL registrar Andrea Salvemini received the CYSA’s highest honor last month. She was honored for a decades-long career in youth soccer during which she helped found a new league, and served as secretary, coach and referee for various youth leagues.

Andrea Salvemini started out as a team mom when Jack was a coach and her son, Mike, was a soccer-playing tyke in Sunnyvale in the late 1960’s. And, despite a lengthy career in youth soccer that included serving as founding member and longtime secretary for the Sunnyvale Youth Soccer League, CYSA secretary, tournament director for several events, and longtime OVYSL official, as well as filling in as a coach and referee when she was needed, Salvemini still thinks of herself as a parent first.

“I’m basically just a soccer mom and a soccer grandma,” she said. “(Being inducted is) very surprising and very humbling. You don’t start out thinking this is what you’re going to do. I just love watching the kids play and knowing they’re out there because I helped them.”

Jack Salvemini said his wife was an indispensable part of his own Hall of Fame career and was at least as responsible for his success as he was.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without her,” he said. “I’d like to take credit for it but the truth is she did a lot of it. She’s been my right-hand person. It was a family thing and we all shared the opportunity. We should have been in (the Hall of Fame) together.”

The Salveminis, who are still heavily involved with the OVYSL, have created a legacy that includes not only successful soccer programs but also a soccer-immersed family. Their son, Mike, is a longtime OVYSL coach who also now coaches at St. Francis High in Mountain View and led the Lancer boys’ varsity to the section playoffs this season. All five of their grandchildren played in the OVYSL.

Then there was veteran coach Mehdi Siadat, who coaches many teams, including the OVYSL Clash U13 girls’ soccer team. Siadat was named National Coach of the Year at a special event in Utah last month. He has served as Olympic Development Program coach for five years, and had already earned Western Regional Coach of the Year honors when he found out he was selected for the national award.

“It’s been a very big honor for me,” Siadat said. “This area has always been good to me and this is payback.”

A native of Iran who has coached youth soccer all over the Bay Area for a quarter century, Siadat has earned a reputation for offering his nationally licensed coaching services for free. And, instead of limiting himself to just the top teams and the most talented players, he coaches all levels of competitive soccer.

“I’ve always been available to anyone who wanted to start a team,” he said. “Most Class I soccer coaches are charging these days. But unfortunately not all families can afford it. My services are always free of charge.”

This season, the Sunnyvale resident took over the OVYSL Clash program, commuting to Morgan Hill regularly and molding the girls into a State Cup-level team. Though the Clash didn’t make it past pool play, the season was a rousing success, according to Siadat.

“I had to teach the Clash from scratch,” he said. “Our goal was not so much to win but to build up the program. We worked all summer and they showed the commitment – we had 100 percent participation in practice. We built the team from the level of some of the players, which was very low, to the State Cup.

“It was quite a drive for me, but it’s been a pleasure.”

Finally, the OVYSL Toros made their first foray into State Cup play a memorable one.

Coached by Kevin Dunwoodie, the U11 girls’ team rolled through pool play and qualified for Round of 16 play held at the Morgan Hill Soccer Complex. Playing before the home crowd, the Toros fell behind 2-0 against a favored Danville team, then rallied to send the match into overtime before winning on penalty kicks. The rousing victory earned the team a berth in the State Cup Final 8 in Turlock.

They got knocked out in their first game on that trip, but the Toros celebrated a season that saw them win three tourney titles and finish second in the Abronzino division en route to its State Cup heroics.

It was a February for the ages for the OVYSL, and an inspiration to youth soccer league officials, coaches and players everywhere.

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