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CRYSC International Visit Costa Rica

Contributors:
Jeff  Oleck - Elite Regional Manager and Director of International Partnerships
Will Juniper - Communication & Content Manager
Published on: January 29, 2024
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Over MLK Day Week in mid-January, CRYSC International Program sent 26 players, families, and coaches to Costa Rica in what was the first trip of the 2024 travel year!  This journey was more than just a soccer tour – it was an incredible mix of adventure, camaraderie, and personal growth! The goal of our CRYSC International Program is to provide a platform for our players, families, and coaches to dive into new places, people, and cultures. Costa Rica, with its “Pura Vida” motto (meaning “pure life”), certainly delivered a unique experience that surpassed all expectations.

Our players tested their independence and confidence off the pitch as they traveled on an eight-day tour, taking them from the capital of San Jose to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and even to the top of an active volcano! They engaged with locals and embraced diverse perspectives, cultures, and languages, all of which left an indelible mark on them, and our hosts. One afternoon near the Pacific coast, our players spent a few hours cleaning up a neighborhood playground in order to give back to the local community and create a safe space for the next generation of soccer players to kick a ball and play.  Although there was a language barrier between our players and the Costa Rican children, the feeling of gratitude and joy that came from that experience was universal.

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Of course, no trip to Costa Rica would be complete without exploring the natural wonders of the country.  Our WorldStrides Sports Tour Director, Rey Cascante, was not only a soccer enthusiast but also a professional biologist who knew every jungle, river, and valley inside and out.  With Rey’s help, our group was able to see macaws, white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, crocodiles in the Sarapiqui River, leaf-cutter ants hard at work, and many other species of plants and animals in their natural habitats that many are only able to see in a zoo.  The adventure didn’t stop there, as travelers had the chance to go on a white-water rafting tour, a riverboat crocodile safari, nature hikes, city walking tours, and, of course, some necessary downtime at the beach!

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On the field, the players were exposed to different coaching voices, played alongside local Costa Rican players, and improved their fitness and conditioning in preparation for their upcoming spring seasons. Under the guidance of coaches Kenneth Paniagua, a former Costa Rican National Team Player, and Omar Royero, a Colombian national with more than a decade of professional playing experience, our players pushed their limits, supported each other, and left it all on the field. The sweat and determination poured into those sessions will undoubtedly fuel their Spring season back home, setting our players apart in their respective CRYSC regions and teams.

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This trip was certainly a success as we both prepared our athletes for the demands of their upcoming soccer seasons while also providing an opportunity for human growth and connection with their environment and the people that they interacted with, both here in Colorado and across borders.

In closing, I want to extend a big “thank you” to Luke Batters, Central Region 11U-19U Recreational Director, who came along to guide our players on and off the field and support the tour overall.  I also want to thank the travelers and their families for making these eight days in Costa Rica so special.  I cannot wait to see where their next adventures take them, but I hope to see them all again on a future CRYSC International tour!

CRYSC International Registration Deadline Reminders:

  • February 6th – 2004-2007 Boys & Girls – Germany & Netherlands 
  • March 27th – 2011 Boys & Girls – Scotland

Visit https://rapidsyouthsoccer.org/international-soccer/ for more information and links to Trip Itineraries.

Competitive Age Group Destination* Travel Dates Registration Deadline
2011 (13U) BOYS & GIRLS Edinburgh, Scotland July 26 – August 3, 2024 March 27, 2024
2007-04 (17U-19U) BOYS & GIRLS Dusselldorf & Amsterdam June 6-14, 2024 February 6, 2024

If you want to learn more about CRYSC international tours or customized international team trips, please visit our webpage or contact our Director of Club and International Partnerships, Jeff Oleck, at [email protected].

Testimonials:

“The international trip experience was a tremendous opportunity for our daughter to experience how the Spanish embrace futbol as a part of their culture, and get to see two amazing cities in Madrid and Barcelona. The guides and coaches did a tremendous job of arranging soccer and non-soccer-centric activities that kept us busy for the entire week. We all had a great time and look forward to the next trip opportunity!”

  • Jeff R., Participating Parent

“The opportunity to travel abroad, attend a professional soccer game, and have the players compete against international competition was an experience that fostered a lifetime of memories. The staff provided detailed daily itineraries that allowed us to plan ahead and meet up with the group if we ventured outside of the itinerary. The guided tour director did an excellent job providing details and recommendations when visiting historical parts of the city.”

  • Moses F., Participating Parent
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Contributors:
Jeff  Oleck
Elite Regional Manager and Director of International Partnerships
[email protected]303.834.7328

Jeff Oleck has been with Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club since 2016. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, the majority of his coaching development took place on the college side of the game at schools such as Northwestern University, Valparaiso University, and Wabash College. While involved in the college game, he also served youth programs as a coaching/goalkeeping director at Team Evanston, NWI United, Dynamo FC, and Indiana ODP. His passion for coaching comes from a desire to help each player find themselves, both on and off the field, and use soccer as a vehicle to enhance life experiences and personal growth. Oleck graduated from Valparaiso University in 2006 with a B.A. in Biology with a Business Administration minor. He also earned a M.S. in Sports Administration from Valparaiso University in 2011. He holds the USSF National “A” License and the USC Advanced National Goalkeeper Diploma.

Jeff Oleck has been with Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club since 2016. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, the majority of his coaching development took place on the college side of the game at schools such as Northwestern University, Valparaiso University, and Wabash College. While involved in the college game, he also served youth programs as a coaching/goalkeeping director at Team Evanston, NWI United, Dynamo FC, and Indiana ODP. His passion for coaching comes from a desire to help each player find themselves, both on and off the field, and use soccer as a vehicle to enhance life experiences and personal growth. Oleck graduated from Valparaiso University in 2006 with a B.A. in Biology with a Business Administration minor. He also earned a M.S. in Sports Administration from Valparaiso University in 2011. He holds the USSF National “A” License and the USC Advanced National Goalkeeper Diploma.

Will Juniper
Communication & Content Manager
[email protected]719.357.7031

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Will grew up running track and taking photos. Will attended the University of Vermont as a NCAA Division 1 track and field athlete specializing in the 400 meter discipline, where he was a captain his senior year. Will graduated with a Bachelors' degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a double minor in Studio Art and Sports Management. While in school, Will was a head coach of the Burlington High School track team in Burlington, VT for two years. After college, Will stayed in Vermont and became a professional photographer at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, VT. In 2022, Will was hired by Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club as the Communication and Content Manager, finding a perfect role for merging all his creative passions such as graphic design, photography, videography, and social media with sports. In his personal life, Will is an avid road cyclist and golfer. He also loves to watch his favorite teams, the New York Yankees and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Will grew up running track and taking photos. Will attended the University of Vermont as a NCAA Division 1 track and field athlete specializing in the 400 meter discipline, where he was a captain his senior year. Will graduated with a Bachelors' degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a double minor in Studio Art and Sports Management. While in school, Will was a head coach of the Burlington High School track team in Burlington, VT for two years. After college, Will stayed in Vermont and became a professional photographer at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, VT. In 2022, Will was hired by Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club as the Communication and Content Manager, finding a perfect role for merging all his creative passions such as graphic design, photography, videography, and social media with sports. In his personal life, Will is an avid road cyclist and golfer. He also loves to watch his favorite teams, the New York Yankees and Brighton & Hove Albion.

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