When Terri and Dale Baker founded the Cache Valley Cup in 2004, little did they know how much it would flourish.
Terri Baker even admitted “we had no idea what we were doing.”
Baker and the countless people who have aided in the growth of this annual event have certainly figured things out. The 15th Cache Valley Cup took place from July 10-13, and the amount of people who participated in or organized it was staggering.
A record 212 teams spread across 48 divisions competed in the tournament, which is for boys and girls, ages 9-19. The Cache Valley Cup was contested at eight different venues — the RSL complex, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, Forrester Acres, Sky View High School, Elk Ridge Park, Mount Logan Middle School, Green Canyon High School and Meadow View Park — and 24 different fields. Additionally, 127 different referees were used at the tourney.
“Heck no,” Baker said when asked if she ever envisioned the event getting this popular. “We thought, ‘Oh gosh, can you imagine if we had 100 teams?’ That was our, ‘Oh my goodness, what would we do if we had 100 teams (moment)? That would be so cool.’ And so here we are at 212, and every year for the last nine years except for one, we’ve broken our record. We just keep growing and growing and growing.”
The fact the Cache Valley Cup is thriving is gratifying for Baker, who serves as the executive director of Northern Utah United (NUU) Soccer. Several new Utah Youth Soccer Association tournaments have been added the past few years and “everyone’s tournament enrollment is down,” Baker said.
Baker is pretty certain the Cache Valley Cup is now the second-largest tourney in the state. One of the biggest reasons Baker said the event continues to grow is the CV Cup committee’s dedication to making it enjoyable for all those involved.
All players get T-shirts and pins, which isn’t necessarily the norm at other tournaments. All of the referees receive a collectable coin, “and tournaments don’t do that anymore,” Baker asserted. And then there’s the Friday night carnival that features music, raffles, inflatables, bubble soccer, skills competitions, a pair of coaches vs. referees games and free food for the players and coaches, plus very affordable food for parents and siblings.
Those involved with planning, organizing and executing the Cache Valley Cup also pride themselves on using the money from the tourney’s $100,000-plus budget wisely.
“Our purpose is to bring competition to the valley and to bring teams up to the valley for our teams that don’t leave the valley to play, to have a chance of playing kind of those upper-level teams,” Baker said. “And so it is not a fundraiser for us; we don’t use it that way.”
Baker raved about the members of the committee who make this event possible, all of whom are unpaid volunteers. From registration, to scheduling, to setting up fields and painting lines, to securing sponsors, to organizing the carnival, there are a wealth of responsibilities that go into making the Cache Valley Cup a viable event, let alone a successful one.
“All of us put in many sleepless nights, many, many hours of physical work, and we all smile and laugh, but it truly is a labor of love,” Baker said. “But it’s work; it really is a lot of work. And these guys pour their guts into it, they really do. ... The public doesn’t know who they are and yet they put so much work into it, time away from their families and their jobs, and they take time off from work.”
In addition to Terri and Dale Baker, other members of the committee are Cassie Baker (tourney director), Dee Webster, Kyliann Erickson, Russ Ottley (NUU vice president), Stephanie Tippets, Brian Tippets, Janet Blad, Kris Hamby, Sandy Hamby, Rayna Baker Smith, Tevan Tippets, Natalie Tippets, Troy Lamb, Wendee Lamb, Chris Guymon, Lyle Bair, Ashlee Bair and Brad Ward (NUU president).
Terri Baker also praised the efforts of the event’s social media director, Cache Valley native Kiel Reid, and the Cache Valley Cup youth council.
“They work their guts out throughout the tournament, and they’re responsible for the T-shirt designs and a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, and it’s cool to have them involved,” Baker said of the youth council. “And a lot of those kids that started out on our youth council are now part of our permanent council, our adult council, so it’s growing our committee going forward.”
The youth council is comprised of Zach Ottley, Levi Blad, Maddi Webster, Kambree Lamb, Tavia Harding, Danika Bair, Linkin Bair, Maya Ottley, Cate Guymon, Kasidee Lamb, Aniston Dubon, Ethan Cooke, Lauralyn Blad, Makenzie Peters and Alexis Murillo. Levi Blad has been on the council since 2013.
Baker is grateful for Badger Screen Printing, which has been involved with the Cache Valley Cup since the beginning, and is thankful for former tourney director Allan Haycock.
Another person Baker said who deserves a lot of credit is Jeff Ginn, NUU’s new coaching director, for “the training programs he’s putting in place to train our coaches, so the coaches can elevate the level for our players.” And that includes not only tactical and technical skills, Baker asserted, but sportsmanship and life skills.
To make matters even more exciting and promising, the Cache Valley Cup recently formed a partnership with Real Salt Lake. The club’s mascot, Leo the Lion, made an appearance at the event, and the winner of each of the platinum division received a free entry to the RSL Showcase tourney in August.
“We’re really expecting that partnership to bear fruit,” Baker said. “It’s exciting.”