Army National Guard Sponsors Competition and Fun at ECNL
Elite Clubs National League – ECNL. The name suggests dedication, effort, and high-stakes matches – all of which were true at ECNL San Diego, which took place April 12-14 at the San Diego Polo Fields. The Army National Guard (ARNG) is another organization that is known for dedication, effort and high-stakes action in times of disaster. Put the two together and what do you have? FUN!
As a national sponsor for the ECNL National Events Series, the Army National Guard helps to defray the massive costs of putting on the elite series of competitions that culminate in the ECNL National Championships. The ARNG also uses the events as an opportunity to share its own messages of service to the community and dedication to education. At the ARNG corral, players could learn more about what the National Guard does in the community and the opportunities for scholarships and education assistance.
Players could also have fun, testing their dribbling skills and participating in physical tests such as competitive sit-ups and double-planking. They could also just hang out, listen to music and check out the ARNG Humvee that was on display.
“This has been an exciting weekend for us in the National Guard,” said ARNG Coordinator Earl Richburg. “The partnership we have with the ECNL is second to none. The ECNL is a great organization, and it’s a good branding opportunity for the National Guard. The ECNL gives us access to their players – we want these talented girls to know how we can help them reach their goals with college scholarships from the National Guard.”
While they are all intense competitors and elite athletes, the young players who attended ECNL San Diego are also teenage girls, which meant that a good deal of silliness and high jinks as well. With Richburg and Staff Sergeants (SSG) Dana Darvin-Varab and Jesus Rojas – both dedicated soccer players – the National Guard corral was a perfect place for players to relax, work off a little competitive tension and just be girls.
“We’re just having a good time with these teams,” Richburg said. “It’s a good place for them to come hang out in between or after games to listen to the music or juggle and just have a good time.”
Juggling was the top individual activity at the National Guard corral, and at times there would be a pair of jugglers and a line of girls waiting their chance to compete for T-shirts. The top juggler for the weekend had nearly 6000 continuous juggles, but anyone reaching 1000 received a special T-shirt to commemorate the achievement.
“Today we had a young lady who just juggled over 2000 continuous juggles – almost 3000, which is exciting,” Richburg said during a break in the activity on Sunday. “That’s one of the things we do, conduct a juggling contest and they win a free T-shirt. One thousand juggles gets you the rank of ‘General.’ Anything above 1000 is just all pride and sweat equity, I guess you could say.”
Another fun event was the “double-plank,” which involved pairs of girls. While one girl “planked” on the ground, a second girl executed a reverse plank on top of her. The goal was to hold their position for at least a minute. At one point an entire team from FC Heat was double-planking in the corral. Afterwards, the team showed off their new shirts and their muscles.
After meeting literally hundreds of girls over the weekend, what continually impressed Richburg the most was not their athletic prowess or their dedication, but their core personality. “These young athletes in ECNL are not just amazing athletes there extremely polite,” he said. “They have such great attitudes.”
The final ECNL National Event leading up to the playoffs and championships will be in Zarephath, New Jersey, in late May and the National Guard will once again be there. The partnership between ECNL and ARNG will continue to provide these talented and dedicated girls the opportunity to compete, have fun and learn for many years to come.