One of the founders of the Quincy United youth soccer program will finish his 11th season as director of operations and then step down.
Joseph James, who began the program alongside Eduardo Blancas more than a decade ago says he will remain involved, but he will no longer be the one making the final decisions.
Standing in the middle of Lauzier Park, surrounded by soccer teams of all age groups, James marveled at how far the program has come since its humble beginnings.
“We only had one team when we started, then we moved to two,” he said. Asked what makes this the right time to step down, he said that sometimes an organization needs a new voice, a new direction. He still loves being in it, but there are a lot more people prepared to take leadership positions than there were at the beginning.
“It feels great,” he said, referring to the popularity and growth of the sport of soccer at the youth level in Quincy. “It’s time for people like Javi Diaz, Carlos Madera and Ernesto Sanchez to take it to another level.” Sanchez will take over as director of operations in place of James.
With five players good enough to turn a few heads at the prestigious Puget Sound Premier League’s Surf Academy, the pipeline of talent is growing strong. Several of the members of Francisco Tafoya’s Caribou Trail League-winning girls’ soccer squad down Jackrabbit Way wore Quincy United jerseys when they were younger. The idea is to continue that pipeline so that when the players get to high school, “it’s not the first time they kick a ball,” James said.
Tafoya himself has a child in the United program.
The list of tasks ahead remains long, as well. One of them is to have German team Borussia Dortmund’s U.S.-based youth academy, known as BVB International Academy count Quincy as one of its destinations. It almost happened last year, James said.
With the program now entering its second decade, James now has among its pupils players who are the children of former players. Some of his coaches and some of the coaches of similar youth-based programs in the region are also former United players.
Last year, despite all the hiccups brought about by COVID-19, the program still managed to finish in the top five in most age groups last year.
“We are growing,’ he said. “And it’s a beautiful thing.”