MID-PENINSULA YOUTH SPORTS OVERVIEW

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WHAT DOES YOUTH SPORTS HAVE TO DO WITH REAL ESTATE?

I started this SF Bay Area real estate blog 5 years ago to provide an on the ground analytical perspective of real estate. Most realtor blogs focus on property listings, and wished to produce something different. Given my former background in finance, banking and high technology startups, I felt I had a unique perspective of assessing real estate properties valued by my Silicon Valley oriented clients and friends. Several of my blog posts over the years have organically garnered high Google keyword rankings depicting that my posts have unique content.

This article will stray away from my usual analytically oriented topics and into the realm of youth sports in the Mid-Peninsula – from Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Foster City, Redwood Shores, Redwood City to Menlo Park. Youth sports organizations are booming right now and a key aspect of one’s community for those families with kids who play sports. http://time.com/4913687/how-kids-sports-became-15-billion-industry/. Back when I was growing up, we mostly played sports in our yards/parks/streets with friends most of the year. Yes, some would play little league or soccer or do some summer basketball camps, but they were highly seasonal and only the rare kid did a single sport year round. Nowadays, there are year round club sports for almost everything. What is interesting is that different cities with different public and private schools have strengths in different sports with various levels of opportunities with club teams. The nuances are hard to discern until one’s children are of age, show an interest in sports and have parents who support the endeavor. Youth sports dynamics usually are not a top consideration when homebuyers prioritize. Characteristics such as transportation, schools, amenities, neighborhood feel, proximity to work, and property condition/style/layout generally are the most important factors, as it should. However, it is always interesting to get emails/calls from my past clients and friends who now have older children asking me for advice/recommendations on youth sports given my long-term involvement in Mid-Peninsula sports scene.

WHY I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUTH SPORTS

In a past life I had a demanding corporate career as a VP-Business Development/GM for high-profile technology startups (one went IPO and one was acquired), and M&A/Strategy for Fortune 500 companies. I managed large teams of people with aggressive P/L goals that led to long work hours. Growing up in a single-working mother household who didn’t get home until late, I knew I wanted to be an active parent when I had children.

I have always been passionate about real estate, been licensed since 2002, so going into real estate was natural progression. Although work schedules are unpredictable, it’s allowed me ability to coach my kids in sports, volunteer actively in the community, and work with my clients/friends on one of their most important financial/life decisions. Its been rewarding to be both involved in my community and with my kids, while still ranking as a top producing agent at my Coldwell Banker San Carlos office.

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MY INVOLVEMENT WITH VARIOUS SPORTS

I have a high school son, and middle school daughter who were exposed to different sports over the years. I am in my 6th year on the Board of Directors at National Junior Basketball (“NJB”) Sequoia Chapter having served previously as the volunteer Chapter Director/President for three years – the chapter fields 30+ boys and girls basketball teams spanning 3rd to 8th grades from Burlingame down to Redwood City. Through this role, I’ve become friendly with many sports and civic leaders, and I have had the special pleasure of working with amazing volunteer Board members at NJB who “do it for the kids!” Thanks Sean F. for taking over this season and doing awesome job! Having coached 8 soccer teams and 10 basketball teams are experiences I cherish. Thus, I have an experienced perspective in the landscape of youth soccer, basketball, tennis, and other sports locally.

REAL ESTATE

There are opportunities for every sport in every city, although each city/school has its strengths and weaknesses in specific sports. Why is this relevant to real estate? In this day and age, youth sports are no longer about neighborhood kids meeting up at someone’s house to play outdoor games. Kids who play sports spend more of their time playing in leagues and/or clubs rather than in someone’s yard or at the park. Seems like people’s social community beyond their immediate neighborhood often revolves around their kids’ school/activities, and particularly around youth sports teams if their children are active in sports.

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SOCCER

There are AYSO chapters in each city fielded by volunteer parent coaches that is a great entry into team sports. Organization consists of team banners, all volunteers, equal playing time, positive reinforcement, and after game orange slices build a solid foundation for young kids. I love AYSO and the positive environment it seeks to create for players. Some of my favorite teams I coached for my son and daughter include Star Strikers, Blue Diamonds, Gladiators, Pink Pandas, and Blue Sharks. After U8, my daughter went on to play club soccer for DeAnza Force North (San Mateo). Additional strong club soccer organizations include Burlingame United, Peninsula (Foster City), Belmont United (Belmont & Redwood Shores), San Carlos United, Juventus (Redwood City), and Alpine Strikers (Menlo Park) – they all have teams for boys and girls. These clubs generally compete in Premier, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Cooper levels. Even within the same clubs, the levels will differ depending on the age group. What I have observed is that the club soccer teams are now starting programs for younger age groups as early as U6. Although I understand why clubs are starting this early and why parents are enrolling kids in club soccer at younger age, I have to say that some of my kids best memories were being part of the Star Strikers in U6 girls or the Blue Sharks in U8 boys where my kids made friends with their direct community and I stayed friends with people I coached with and many supportive parents.

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BASKETBALL

The area’s basketball opportunities are numerous, although more fragmented and more confusing to navigate. At the younger ages, YMCA in San Mateo, M&M organized by Ralston Middle School (Belmont) gym teachers, and City of San Carlos/Burlingame basketball leagues are good options. Other organizations in the Peninsula include Legarza, i9 sports, and Next Level. Legarza runs sports camps and leagues in various sports that originally started with basketball and now expanded to other sports. i9 has a franchise/franchisee model. Next Level is interesting as they partner with local High Schools and leverage the HS basketball players to provide gym space and coach kids. These are very attractive options for players who want to play recreationally with lower commitment to practices and less driving all around Northern California to games.

For boy players who are more serious about basketball and want higher competition, options include National Jr. Basketball (“NJB”) and various AAU organizations. NJB Sequoia Chapter covers Burlingame to North Redwood City while NJB Redwood Chapter covers South Redwood City to Menlo Park. Up North, AAU boys teams include Renegades, Lunardi, and Peninsula Basketball. Further South is Supreme Kourt, which my son played for and led by my friend and one of the best skill development coaches around – Royce Nelson. There is also Team Esface based in Redwood City, and Atherton Bulldogs.

On the girl side, there is also NJB plus a couple strong AAU clubs: 1) Renegades out of San Mateo run by a Serra coach who I’ve played pick-up basketball with Darrick DeLeon, and 2) Torch out of Atherton led by a former Stanford PG and current Sacred Heart varsity coach Melanie Murphy which my daughter currently plays on and really likes.

Additional competitive and good leagues include the very popular Japanese leagues and Asian Leagues around the Bay Area. These Asian leagues/tournaments field top tier competition with top players. I have many adult basketball friends who played on these teams growing up in Bay Area and they have told me that some of their best friends were made playing for those teams. In the mid-Peninsula for both boy and girl teams, there is the Asian-based Foster City Flyers and JYO for Japanese league.

BASEBALL

Baseball and softball are very popular sports across the board. Cities have their own little league and softball organization. Above and beyond little league, for the more serious players, there are club opportunities to play almost year-round. What was interesting is seeing growth in certain youth sports registrations in the season immediately after the Warriors or the Giants win a league championship. In the last 10 years, the Giants have won in 2002, 2004 and 2006 while the Golden State Warriors won 2015, 2016, and 2018. I still remember back in the summer 2013, it was quite exciting for Belmont and Redwood Shores. The little league all-star team of 10-12 year olds went on a roll and advanced all the way to Western US finals – just 1 game away from advancing to Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. It was quite exciting particularly as I knew a couple of the players and coaches. Right after that season, an already popular sport became even more so as kids wanted to strive for similar goals.

OTHER SPORTS

Lacrosse is an increasingly popular sport in the area. There aren’t the city leagues like some of the other sports, but a couple of well regarded clubs based in the area. The Coyotes based in Burlingame and Firehawks based in south part of San Mateo county. I only know because I play basketball at the Bay Club Redwood Shores with a couple Firehawks coaches, one of whom is also the assistant coach for Carlmont High varsity lacrosse team, and another who is the head varsity coach for Sequoia High. I wish I considered playing lacrosse growing up as it looks like a lot of fun with similarities to basketball and soccer.

For tennis enthusiasts, Foster City seems to produce a lot of strong tennis players. Their middle school has fielded top teams for over 10 years straight that then feeds into the various San Mateo high schools. I suspect it’s that Foster City has more public tennis courts than other cities. Around the Menlo Park/Portola Valley/Woodside area, some of the top private tennis clubs are tucked in those very nice communities – Ladera Oaks and Alpine Hills. Ladera’s head tennis pro is one of my son’s friend’s dad, Ray Bilsey who is excellent. My son who is on his high school tennis team trains at Bay Club Redwood Shores which has a great youth program and nice facilities coached by long-time head coach John Hubbell who has coached some of the top tennis players in the state.

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Those who like to run, Belmont’s got one of the premiere cross-country trails in the Bay Area – Crystal Springs Cross-Country by Hallmark park. Trails are absolutely stunning, well cared for and well marked. This trail was practically built by my former Coldwell Banker San Carlos office broker’s husband Bob Rush who continues to maintain the trails to this day. It can be used year round. During the fall, middle and high schools schedule cross-country meets there and they travel from all over. I am not a jogger, but if I were, I’d be running on these trails regularly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Obviously not every organization was covered, but I included the ones I am familiar with or have heard about
  • Just because a club is bigger or more well known doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other, but it is also highly dictated by the coach, coaching style and make up of the team
  • Lots of coaching turnover/changes from season to season in these team sports that can impact a player, so definitely expect that
  • Don’t discount community based leagues with parent coaches for the fun and community aspect of it
  • Check out Positive Coaching Alliance website for tips to coaches and parents
  • I’ve had the great pleasure of coaching with a lot of phenomenal parents who many I call friends, shout out to Steve S., Peter A., Roc P., Steve O., Jeff M., Kevin G., Gary C., Todd LV, Joe H., Rob W., Rick S., Tim T., Tim N., Ed S., Will R.

As always, please reach out to me at peter.tao@cbnorcal.com or 650-504-7588 cell if you wish to discuss either of my two passions of real estate and youth sports. Please “like” my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PeterTaoProperties/ and comment on any of my blog posts! Thank you for reading.

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