Everyone in the Bay Area knows real estate is frighteningly expensive. Houses sell for upwards of $500k. Not everyone connects this to the fact that we have very little open space for sports teams to train and play. But it stands to reason. When every little park, tennis court, dog run, or sports field could be the site of a multi-million dollar development, you tend to have lots of housing development and few open spaces. When a nice facility is planned, it often encounters opposition from “concerned homeowners” who don’t want people and traffic around them on weekends and evenings. The decision to install artificial turf, which makes fields playable all through the year, also raises hackles of environmentalists who see natural park land disappearing to make room for it.
Coaching in these parts is not simply a matter of knowing your Xs and Os. You have to know where you can find space to train, both through the official channels and otherwise. If you’re not training with floodlights you have to know what time the sun goes down. Like housewives comparing grocery prices, coaches gather in dive bars, conversing in hushed tones about the latest on field space. Are the Park & Rec guys checking permits? How bad are the gopher holes in the meadow in the park? Did you hear the Polo Fields are going to be closed an extra three months?
In a world where soccer fields are a disappearing resource, inventiveness is key. I’m happy to say that thanks to coach Toby Rappolt we have found an all-weather training facility that gives us all the space we need. It is always open. It’s never rained out. You don’t need a permit ever. And you can have all the space you want. My favorite part is how counter-intuitive it is; that is the Rappolt approach to life. The Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate are part of the Bay Area splendor and a driver of the high real estate prices. By training at the beach, we turn the disadvantage into an advantage. Toby’s a bit of a genius that way.
What do the players think?
“They all love it. some of them either have never been to the beach or haven’t been for a long, long time.”