BRSC Member Spotlight – Cal Madere, Cosmo to Catalyst
This week we take a look back at this photo from 1978 and one of the players who would go on to help build Baton Rouge Soccer Club into the club it is today.
This photograph is of the Cosmos soccer team during the 1978-1979 season at Independence Park. The Cosmos were affiliated with St. Thomas More and were one of three teams in the Baton Rouge Soccer Club at the time.
Cal Madere, as seen on the far right of the photo, recalls what it was like as a kid starting in Baton Rouge Soccer Club. “We all just wanted to be Pele. At the time, he was playing for the New York Cosmos, which was equivalent to David Beckham playing for the LA Galaxy a few years back.”
Cal would continue to play soccer for nine years until he reached high school. At the time, Catholic High School only allowed students to play one sport. While the decision was tough, Cal ultimately decided to play football. His love for soccer never waned, and in 2006, Cal returned to the Baton Rouge Soccer Club as one of the first ten members on the new member board.
Club soccer had recently started, and the board’s main goal was to shift the league over to mirror what the east coast soccer leagues were doing at the time. The board created a master plan to elevate the club by creating a 3-tier system. Over the years, Cal was able to witness soccer grow from a shadow sport to a mainstream choice. Not only did he watch the club levels grow, but the high school level evolved as well.
When Cal became a member of the Baton Rouge Soccer Club, the league only had six fields at Independence Park. Out of the 6, only 3 of them had lights. With 20 teams interchanging between only three fields for practice, he recalls how chaotic it would get. Because of this, the team relocated to Burbank. During his time of involvement, Cal was a part of the building of the Burbank field. From raising the money to fund the field, hiring and recruiting talented coaches to coach the teams, and lighting up the fields for afternoon practices, Cal was a part of it all. By the time Cal stepped down in 2016, he had witnessed 15 out of the 24 fields have lights installed.
Cal has been an integral component of the organization and innovation of the Baton Rouge Soccer Club. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication!
BRSC Member Spotlight: Danielle Thomas, Building the Game and People in Gardere
The BRSC Member Spotlight Series recognizes outstanding members within our organization who help further the club’s mission to provide and promote excellence in soccer and physical fitness programming to people of all ages and abilities.
The first exceptional member of the Baton Rouge Soccer Club that we will highlight is Danielle Thomas. Danielle has served as a coach, manager, and director of the Gardere Youth Alliance program since 2012.
Originally from Kentucky, Danielle grew up playing soccer and was a member of her high school soccer team. Danielle played varsity center midfield and was the backup goalkeeper for her team. Danielle enjoys a successful freshman and sophomore seasons before an unfortunate knee injury shortened her junior year. Despite her best efforts, she was unable to recapture her previous level of play during her season as she finished out her soccer career. In college, Danielle focused on her studies. While earning her doctorate degree for sociology at LSU, she became involved with the Gardere Youth Alliance Program.
During her involvement, she aided Anna Alvarez and Ivan Quinones in starting the Gardere Youth Alliance (GYA) soccer program in 2015. Shortly after, the program formed a partnership with the Baton Rouge Soccer Club.
“Danielle is a missionary, she loves sports very much and took the challenge of being a part of this new adventure with us,” said Anna Alvarez. “For more than six years she has worked and established a good relationship with BRSC, helping many children/youths who have been involved with GYA.”
The mission of the Gardere Youth Alliance is to connect kids and families in the Gardere community to athletic opportunities and encourage the children to become their best selves on and off the field. It is a Christian organization founded by Darin Fontenette and Allison Fitchet around the time of hurricane Katrina. The program helped make peace across divisions between New Orleans evacuees and Baton Rouge residents of Gardere. The organization offers football and soccer programs currently but has also offered basketball, dance, and cheer in the past.
BRSC Recreational Director Coaching Stanley Johnson has worked with Danielle and countless other coaches in the recreational program to prepare for the season. “Danielle is an excellent example of the volunteer coaches who truly embody the mission statement of the Baton Rouge Soccer Club. Danielle works tirelessly to help provide children in the Baton Rouge community with the opportunity to participate in BRSC programs.”
During the season, BRSC Recreational Director Morgan Bellington always finds time to watch all of her recreational team’s play, but she always makes sure to check in on all of Danielle’s games. “Her level of dedication to both her players and the club is rivaled by few. We are very proud to have Danielle on our Recreational coaching staff.”
Danielle’s primary goal is to provide athletic opportunities to those that do not have the financial means, even taking the initiative in transporting the players out to practices and games. While she assists with coaching all the teams, her primary team is the girls’ team that she started in 2018. Danielle’s favorite thing about the work she does is opening-up doors socially and culturally for the children in the program and seeing the opportunities they are given. She also loves watching the kids grow not only as athletes but as people.
Her favorite memory of working for the program is an experience with the girls’ team last season. Her team was matched up to play against a team that they were very intimidated by; and unfortunately, they lost badly. She explained to them that the teams’ skill sets were even, but the intimidation level of the other team affected their overall performance. Later in the season, they had a rematch with the same team; and they triumphed.
Danielle recalled how special it felt to watch her team overcome this obstacle and grow from that experience. “I love watching my team’s confidence grow. Watching them improve and progress as players are really great to witness.” The soccer program provides children with opportunities, serving as a form of foundation in the children’s lives. Danielle’s future hope for her players is to see them build up the courage to try out for their high school teams and to attend college.
If you are interested in getting involved, the GYA program is in constant need of coaches to provide one on one instruction that Danielle may not always be able to give due to her busy schedule. In addition to volunteer opportunities, the Gardere Youth Alliance and BRSC accept donations in financial and equipment form (balls, shin guards, etc.) as well.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to get involved with GYA.