It was the end of an era in youth recreation in La Jolla when the Nomads soccer clubs vacated their facilities at Allen Field Jan. 12, announcing they were breaking ties and heading in a new direction.
Nomads said their teams will use Hickman Youth Complex in Clairemont on the boys side, and Doyle Elementary School for their girls, with the hopes of eventually building another field elsewhere.
The news drew a mixed reaction from local parents and coaches.
“The only imposition to me is that I will have to drive a little further,” said Nomads parent Karen Herbst. “I’m sorry they’re leaving. I love Allen Field. The sunsets are beautiful. It’s a great location. But right now it doesn’t affect me that much.”
Noting the internationally recognized organization has meant a lot to La Jolla, and Allen Field in particular, there are some who believe the Nomads departure is a positive development, insisting the majority of youths being served by the Nomads actually come from outside the community.
Not everyone, however, agrees with that perspective. “The two teams I manage are 95 percent La Jolla kids,” said Nomads girls’ soccer club manager Megan Bailiff. “And right now we’re inconveniencing a bunch of La Jolla families, because we can’t use Allen Field.”
Bailiff pointed out soccer is a “community” sport meant to be shared, adding that top players come from all over.
“La Jolla should not see itself as insular,” she said. “Children coming from elsewhere are able to interact with our children and have good facilities and learn good teamwork. The Nomads is all about sharing with the rest of the community.”
Derek Armstrong, coaching director of the Nomads, said inflation caused the clubs to be priced out of the market.
“The costs of using Allen Field have just been rising and rising ever since the new contract lease,” he said. “It’s gone from $27,000 per year in 2004 to $67,000 last year. We as a youth club were getting diminishing returns, and our demographics were changing. We’ve been getting some families who were financially challenged and we just couldn’t afford it in the end.”
Murray Helm, president of La Jolla Youth, Inc., gave kudos to the Nomads. “We wish the Nomads the best and we want them to succeed and continue to prosper,” he said. “They’re an elite soccer club and they added to the reputation of Allen Field in a very positive way. They’re going to be missed.”
Helm said the Nomads left voluntarily. “We never asked them to leave,” he said. “We never told them to leave.”
Fred Borrelli, president of La Jolla Youth Soccer League, is one who believes the local community will be better served now that there is less competition for use of Allen Field. “Soccer has been a growing sport for 20 years and La Jolla Youth, Inc., is always looking for field space,” he said. “When this opened up, it essentially doubled the amount of usage time we had for La Jolla soccer at Allen Field. We’re going to be able to fill that usage because we always have a demand for field space. With the Nomads gone, it will help ease that crunch.”
“It’s a new chapter, that’s how I see it,” said Armstrong of the Nomads about the most recent turn of events. “People in the corporate world move on and change their business plan. We are no different. We have to move on.”