PASCO -- The Three Rivers Soccer Club has prided itself for years on providing the best coaching and training that the Mid-Columbia can offer its young players.
The club's acceptance into the Washington Youth Soccer Regional Club League in June -- an honor shared by only 20 other youth clubs around the state -- validated the club's commitment to the high standards required for entry into the RCL.
It also ensured that the Three Rivers Soccer Club (3RSC), a member of the Tri-Cities Youth Soccer Association, will be able to continue its pursuit of the highest level of competition in the state.
"It's awesome for the kids in the community," said Chad Bodnar, the 3RSC coaching director. "Soccer in Tri-Cities is very good, and it's important for us to be able to play at the highest level all the time. For the Tri-Cities to have a club of that magnitude is huge."
To be accepted into the RCL, clubs must meet certain strict requirements, including a high number of nationally-licensed coaches, a specific academy-style of training and a minimum accumulation of state championship tournament points.
The only other clubs in Eastern Washington qualified to play in the RCL are the Spokane Shadow and the Sun City Strikers in Yakima.
"There are probably 87 (soccer) clubs in the state, of which only 21 are a member of the Regional Club League," said 3RSC president Chris Mertens. "The club has really worked hard to get up to this level."
Last fall, two 3RSC teams made deep runs in the State Cup playoffs.
The U-16 United boys team reached the State Cup semifinals, and the U-17 girls made the quarterfinals. Those two teams alone accounted for 22 of the 25 points the 3RSC needed for RCL eligibility.
Several other 3RSC teams gained points by reaching the State Cup elimination rounds.
The 3RSC currently has 39 girls and boys teams consisting of ages U-11 to U-18 that play throughout the state of Washington.
The 3RSC coaching staff, led by Bodnar, is a who's who of Tri-City soccer coaches, including Ray Evans, Sharok Khabir, Mike Pardini, Matt Potter, Greg Sambrano and Max Weber.
Bodnar said the RCL is currently holding team-placement meetings in preparation for the beginning of play in September.
For the U15-U18 girls teams, play will begin in the spring to accomodate the fall high school girls season.