Come Up For Air soccer tournament set to take over the South Shore this weekend
Soccer will take over the South Shore this weekend for a summer tradition that spans more than two decades. The annual Come Up For Air tournament returns Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, and features 158 teams from throughout California and Nevada competing on local turf.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Mark Salmon, tournament co-director. “Soccer is setting the bar for youth sports in this town — everybody is looking to us and wants to mimic what we have done and are doing.”
The tournament hosted by Tahoe Soccer Foundation features teams in divisions ranging from U-9 to U-18 and will be played at 16 sites along the South Shore — including both South Tahoe and Whittell high schools. Local teams from South Tahoe Futbol Club and AYSO are entered into the two-day event for free, with club parents volunteering as marshals.
“Lake Tahoe is the draw because of the temperature and the lake, and people always want to come visit here,” said Salmon, who coaches the Vikings’ girls team and is a vice president for STFC. “Soccer is just a means to do that, but the quality of play is ramping up — the clubs are sending more of their ‘A’ level teams and they’re coming from further out.”
Proceeds from the event benefit local soccer at all levels, from the Kiddie Kickers program at Kahle Community Center to the men’s and women’s programs at Lake Tahoe Community College. Last year’s tournament helped buy new jerseys for South Tahoe, new equipment and paid field dues.
“It’s an awesome fundraiser,” Salmon said.
Come Up For Air originally began as an AYSO tournament before switching to a club-based event for both U.S. Youth Soccer and U.S. Club Soccer teams in 2010 — and it continues to grow. Salmon estimated that at least 8,000 people will come to the South Shore solely for soccer this weekend, making Come Up For Air a benefit for the local economy.
“We do this pretty much on our own — soccer is the big draw for this weekend,” Salmon said. “It brings a lot of revenue to the community in so many different ways. A lot of these people are renting houses and staying in hotels, buying food and gas, and even renting boats — some of them stay for a week.”
The tournament turned away more than 100 teams this year, and has done so for its past three editions. To accommodate more teams, the inaugural CUFA Fall Classic will be held Sept. 17-18 — and next summer, the boys and girls tournaments will take place on separate weekends.
“The quality of the tournament in general is of a high level,” Salmon said. “It’s awesome — our soccer program is getting put on the map and we’re starting to get recognized.”
The tournament begins with pool play Saturday, a full day of action that will feature soccer from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. across the South Shore — including boys and girls U-18 divisions at South Tahoe and Whittell. Bracket play starts Sunday, with champions crowned in 24 different divisions that afternoon.
“For a small town like ours, it’s pretty impressive to be able to host events like this,” Salmon said. “It shows the commitment to soccer and the amount of good soccer people we have in this community.”
For more information on the tournament, including schedules and results, visit http://www.tahoecufa.com.