When the Hawaii Surf Soccer Club first started in 2014 on the Big Island, there were only seven players, a far cry from the half million players nationwide in AYSO.
That set up Big Island club president Misty Ambrosio to try her hand at comedy.
“Of course, the thing about soccer is there are 11 players,” she said.
That’s a pretty funny line, but it also happens to be true.
Back then, her husband Jason Ambrosio, Tyrel Cuyo, Paul Franklin, Mickey Decoito, Gavin Pamarang, and Alfredo Robles not only coached but served as fill-in players.
Now, there are over 100 Hilo club members from ages 3 to 18 years old.
Kamehameha senior Hevani Haunga was one of original seven, along with Kaila Ambrosio (Kamehameha), Kiara Cuyo (Kamehameha), Jordyn Pacheco (Hilo), Summer Cassidy (Waiakea), Starcia Deponte (Waiakea), and Kalena Kekaualua (Waiakea).
“Going to a practice where barely seven people show up is hard, especially when you want to scrimmage,” Haunga said. “But seeing the numbers grow over time makes me happy. There is so much talent and hustle here in Hawaii, but we just fall short of exposure.
“It makes me happy to know that more and more players’ dreams are coming true through the exposure that Surf has to offer.”
Hawaii Surf Soccer has clubs in Hilo, Kona, Oahu, and Maui, overseen by director of clubs Shawn Kuroda. His daughter, Taylor Kuroda (Iolani), is a senior forward at Oregon. The Kona club has 18 members, and Oahu has 450 members.
The goal is the same for all the clubs, according to Misty Ambrosio.
“The goal is to play competitive soccer and get the kids to play competitive teams off island and most of all in front of college coaches,” she said. “We want to get them to an opportunity to get college scholarships.”
During the national letter of intent day in February, the Hawaii Surf class of 2018 had a whopping 19 members who signed college scholarships.
Haunga signed with UNLV. Cassidy signed with William Penn. Deponte signed with Columbia Basin last year.
Kaila Ambrosio, Misty’s daughter, is a UNLV verbal commit. Pacheco is a Northern Arizona verbal commit.
Konawaena seniors Nalani Wall and Kaiya Denis signed with Fresno Pacific and Peninsula College, respectively.
Hawaii Surf Soccer plays in HYSA (Hawaii Youth Soccer Association), sort of like AYSO but a higher level of play. The competition runs in the fall and spring. Club members have the opportunity to play on Oahu and try out for Surf travel teams.
“We’re more than a soccer club,” Ambrosio said. “To be part of the club, we encourage kids to have a 3.0 GPA. It’s not only soccer but life lessons. We instill life lessons as well. We do community service, too. This past Thanksgiving we fed 162 homeless people down at Hilo Bayfront.”
As Haunga pointed out, it’s a happy moment for Hawaii Surf Soccer when players get exposure, especially at big-name mainland showcases or tournaments, and later sign scholarships.
“If players work hard and put their hearts into it, they can achieve it,” Ambrosio said. “We know there are opportunities out there, and we want to expose them to it. We’re all parents. We all started off as parents coaching our kids. We love the kids. That’s why we do it.”
For more information on Hawaii Surf Soccer, visit the website at www.surfsoccerhawaii.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.