For more than a decade, the boys and girls teams from El Paso Del Valle High School have made the long trip to Frisco ISD’s Dr. Pink Soccer Invitational. El Paso is more than 600 miles away and the winter weather can create havoc, but the Del Valle coaches always put the event on the schedule.
“Twelve hours in a bus and a couple of thousand dollars for hotels,” Del Valle girls soccer coach Chris Lopez said, “but the experience that the kids get is worth it.”
Other coaches obviously agree. The 52-team field from this year’s three-day Dr. Pink Invitational, which finished Saturday, included seven schools from El Paso, four from Amarillo, three from Wichita Falls, as well as Midland High School. It also included the boys team from Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Fla. The boys and girls teams from all eight FISD high schools with varsity soccer programs were also part of the tournament.
The Invitational was the season opener for the Texas teams, and the level of competition is one reason so many schools are eager to be part of it each year. The soccer teams are also enticed by the match venues, which this year included FISD high school fields, Toyota Soccer Center fields and the Ford Center at The Star.
The event is set up as a series of matches for each team rather than a bracket format. There was no champion crowned on the final day, but a lot of teams felt like winners.
“Just traveling to a tournament like this,” Lopez said, “it’s almost like a kid’s World Cup.”
The chance to play at Ford Center was a thrill for out-of-area teams who hadn’t seen the dome that the FISD shares with the Cowboys.
“We're happy to welcome all the teams from around the state and beyond,” FISD Athletic Director David Kuykendall said, “and give them the chance to compete against our FISD teams and experience the facilities that our kids enjoy.”
Last year, McKinney boys soccer coach Alan Pocock earned his 300th career coaching victory during a Dr. Pink Invitational match at the Ford Center. That will be an enduring memory, Pocock said, but he knows there are more great memories to come at the Dr. Pink Invitational.
“They have multiple facilities that are all terrific,” he said. “I love the tournament.”