Men’s Soccer Fundraiser Brings Walla Walla Community Together

Whitman College’s Men’s Soccer Team organized a fundraising community soccer tournament for the weekend of April 23 and 24. Nine teams in all signed up for the fundraiser, with one team composed of Whitman students and the other eight composed of adult league teams and teams with varsity players from the Community College and Walla Walla University. Coach Jose Cedeno ran a similar fundraiser at his previous coaching job in New York and was excited about bringing this event to Whitman.

“That was our way to raise money, and we used it to go away for preseason and that kind of thing. We figured we could do something here, but because it gets a little warmer and we have great outdoor facilities, we added another player to do 6v6,” Cedeno said. “For some reason our soccer program in the past years hasn’t had a strong bond with the community. This tournament was mainly non-Whitman students, there was one Whitman team and all the rest were from the community,” added junior Trayvon Foy.

The tournament was a great opportunity for the team to connect with the community once again, something they also did in the winter with their youth clinics. The community turnout has been great, as the number of teams at the recent fundraiser exceeded expectations. Cedeno’s connections to the leagues in town were integral in getting so many teams involved.

“I got in touch with key people in the community to put the word out there, and we had a lot of interest. We had nine teams, which wasn’t bad at all. We were thinking six would be our goal because it was our first year, but it definitely was a success,” Cedeno said. “Soccer is really big around Walla Walla, even though nobody really knows that from our school,” Foy said.

Not only was it a way to connect with the rest of Walla Walla, but the tournament also provided some great competition as explained by sophomore Chris Hankin.

“Alden, a former varsity player, heard about the tournament from some current players, so he put together a team with a bunch of people who play pickup,” Hankin said. “It was fun. The teams were good. The Walla Walla Community College had a team and Walla Walla University had a team. A bunch of the men’s league teams were playing, the team that won the Walla Walla men’s league was there.”

The varsity players were helping the tournament run smoothly, selling concessions as well as acting as referees and ball boys during the games.

“Our players handled themselves really well. They were welcoming and we wanted to offer a good product for people coming in, and I think they did a great job of that,” Cedeno said.

The players also got to watch different playing styles and were paying close attention and learning from others.

“It was nice for us to reach out as a team and connect with the community and also to see what soccer is like for them. They have a different playing style that we were able to see, which we incorporated in our scrimmage the other day,” Foy said.

The tournament went about as well as hoped, as everyone had a good time and they were able to raise a fair amount of money for the program.

“We raised about $700 altogether. It wasn’t a huge chunk of money, but it was more about connecting with the community. I’m sure in the future the tournament will grow and we’ll have an excellent turnout, but this wasn’t bad at all. We’re happy about it,” Cedeno said. “It raised some money for our program, and it’s going to be used to go away for preseason for a few days to a place that no one knows yet–it’s a surprise for our players.”

The first version of the fundraising tournament was definitely a success and a great first step in creating a great tradition. When asked whether he would return in future years, Chris Hankin responded enthusiastically.

“For sure, it was fun. I’ll bring my A game next time. I’ll be more prepared for what’s going to come–it was competitive,” Hankin said.

With such ringing endorsements from participants and a nice sum of money for a preseason trip, the soccer program appears to have the beginnings of a nice yearly tradition.