Reno 1868 FC trains, entertains on South Shore at Lake Tahoe Community College | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Reno 1868 FC trains, entertains on South Shore at Lake Tahoe Community College

Kids were trained and all were entertained Tuesday, April 24, with the Reno 1868 Football Club's visit to Lake Tahoe Community College.

The professional soccer team practiced at the college's stadium field under the sun in the afternoon, hosted a 90-minute camp for kids in the early evening and finished with an exhibition match against the Coyotes in front of hundreds of spectators.

"What a day for the community, club and college," said Coyotes men's coach Nicholas Arbelaez. "

About 75 kids, ages 8 to 12, from the South Tahoe Futbol Club (STFC) took part in the clinic. The kids were separated into groups and rotated stations. Kids scrimmaged on a small part of the field with tiny nets. They were put through ball-handling drills, traveling in and around cones, before firing shots on goal. And they played a game where they were chased and turned into zombies.

Following the clinic, kids mobbed the five or six Reno 1868 players and coaches who put on the clinic for autographs. For 30 minutes the players signed everything from cleats to hats to shirts to water bottles.

Reno 1868's purple, fuzzy mascot, Truckee, also got into the act. He signed autographs and entertained kids, or, was tortured by the kids — sometimes it was hard to tell with the kids so demanding of his attention.

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After training and entertaining the children, Reno 1868 got back on the field in uniform and gave the college kids some education in front of a standing room only crowd. The Coyotes kept pace with the pros for most of the first half but Reno 1868 showed its skill and systematically broke down the amateurs.

"Our club and its players last night had the chance to work with players who are professional and paid," Arbelaez said. "Some were drafted in the highest rounds of the MLS super draft. And to spend 90 quality minutes with them last night was something that is priceless. As the director of the club [STFC], I couldn't be more proud of how far we have come with soccer in this town. It's about our club and college players who put hard work and time on the field that makes days like that so special."

Jeremy Evans, the Coyotes women's head coach, had a signing event for his players who graduated and are moving on to four-year colleges. He coordinated it to go along with the festivities.

Rebecca Niblett will attend the University of Bridgeport, a division II school in Connecticut. Caitlyn Bidart is headed to division II Northwestern State Oklahoma State University. South Lake Tahoe's Kenya Maltase chose division II California State University, East Bay. And Megan Masters is headed east, to division III Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

"I couldn't be more proud of this group of student athletes," Evans said. "They've done everything I've asked of them and now they are getting rewarded for their efforts. All of them have over 3.0 GPAs, and have been part of the two most successful teams in LTCC women's soccer history."

With the latest four college signings, LTCC has transferred 65 percent of its sophomores since the program's inception in 2014, putting it among the top of all junior colleges in California.

"Over 90 percent of our players have received four-year athletic scholarship offers," Evans said.

Evans and Arbelaez, who are best friends, hung out with Reno 1868 head coach Ian Russell following the match and chatted about future games and events they can do together.

"Last night isn't possible without coach Evans, our athletic director Mike Spina and super fans like Lori Thorne," Arbelaez said. "We have a beautiful facility that has attracted professional teams like Reno 1868, but the relationship and communication between coach Evans and myself has solidified a partnership that will pave the way for recruits to see what we offer here at LTCC, to experience nights like last night for years to come. What a great experience for our kids and that's what it is all about. We really are lucky."