It seems that whenever you see ‘youth soccer’ mentioned in the news, it’s some story about crazed soccer parents ruining their kid’s lives or some deviant, who also happened to be a soccer coach (making it even MORE newsworthy), being arrested. Yet those of us with kids playing or who coach see the good in youth soccer every day and you wish it would get the attention the bad does.

Well this is a story that is bound to get some media attention – the good kind.

In southern California last weekend, AYSO teams were playing in a tournament to decide who would represent southern California in the state wide championships held in Davis, CA. In the U10 Girls division, the Huntington Park American Eagles, coached by Maria Espinoza, won the right to go to Davis after defeating the Cypress Cyclones, coached by Bernadette Arizmendi. However, the Eagles were upset after their win, because they knew they could not afford to make the trip to Davis to play in the state championship. By default, since the Eagles could not attend, the 2nd place Cyclones would go to Davis representing southern California.

Instead of preparing her team for the championships, Coach Arizmendi decided to try and raise some funds so the Eagles could attend and represent their region as the 1st place team. She asked her parents for donations and sent emails to various organizations asking for help. One of those emails went to local radio personality Ryan Seacrest, know to many as the host of American Idol.

Ryan is a radio personality at KIIS FM 102.7 whose show On Air with Ryan Seacrest is syndicated nationally. Understanding the heartbreak that the Eagles must be going through, he and his crew worked to find a way to get them to Davis for the championships. They contacted various businesses who might be able to help as well as the LA SOL, the new Los Angeles women’s professional soccer team. Together they arranged for the Eagles to attend the tournament they had earned a spot in. With Coach Arizmendi and Coach Espinoza on the phone, Ryan told his listeners their story and let Coach Espinoza know that her Eagles would be able to play in Davis thanks in part to the efforts of Coach Arizmendi. They arranged a charter bus for the team and hotel rooms for them to stay in while at Davis. The hotel restaurant will also host a reception for the girls the night they arrive. Ryan then brought in Shelby Russell, the marketing director for the LA SOL, who explained to the coaches that the LA SOL wanted both teams to attend their opening match this Sunday as their guests of honor at The Home Depot center and to meet the players on the field before the match.

You can listen to the radio segment over at 102.7 KIIS-FM where they let the coaches know what was going on.

What an amazing story of sportsmanship and selflessness. Coach Arizmendi did a very selfless thing in trying to make sure the Eagles could attend the championship and a huge shout out to Ryan Seacrest and his team for not only arranging for their transportation and lodging, but doing so in style. This includes Patty Rodriguez (@pattyrodriguez), his producer. Producers are often the silent heroes in stories like this, working to hammer out all the arrangements and details before the story is aired. Same for the LA SOL, who will make fans for life of two teams of young soccer players.

What a cool story. Thanks to @blondiell6 and @iBake for tipping me off to this on Twitter, and to The Original Winger for providing some specifics on this story. I expect we’ll see this hit the national media within the next day or two. Great stuff.

UPDATE: Still trying to find videos of local newscasts, though many may air today. If you have links, post them in the comments. Also, here’s a cool tweet from Patty, Ryan’s producer, at the end of the day after this story aired:

This is why I love my job! *smiles*

Patty deserves a lot of credit for this as producers are always the unsung heroes in the shadows of stories like this, making the calls to learn more about a situation and working to arrange great solutions like this. I’ve updated the story to reflect this. Ryan also uses Twitter: @ryanseacrest

iTunes users can listen to the segment as a podcast. Found at Ryan Seacrest Fan Zone

If you are part of youth soccer in any way, this is a great story to share with your team or league. Just use the handy Share button below.

UPDATE #2: Here is local CBS News coverage of the story, including interviews with Coach Arizmendi and a couple of her players. Thanks Lee for posting the link.

UPDATE #3: Here is coverage on the AYSO National website and the Positive Coaching Alliance. You can also follow Coach Arizmendi on Twitter at @bernadettelisa.