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Las Positas saw a food truck, a DJ and a bouncy castle on their all-natural grass field on Saturday, April 13. About 50 people gathered on one side of the Hawks field in their lawn chairs, huddled together in ponchos to help protect themselves from the rainy and chilly conditions. The players kicked the ball back and forth, staying warm while getting ready for kickoff. LPC was geared up to host yet another soccer event. 

Except this one was different. There were no Hawk players to be seen. Rather it was the Bay Valley Suns preparing to play their inaugural home game of not only the season but their team’s existence. One that starts with them calling The Nest home.

The top field of Las Positas will be occupied until at least June by the new semi-pro soccer club, the Bay Valley Suns Sports Club. Despite the club’s youthfulness, they have lofty goals fueled by several big sponsors like Kailesh Karavadra, who also sponsors English Premier League Club Luton Town. 

The connection brings multiple opportunities to LPC. It brings in a new stream of revenue, as the Suns will pay an estimated $6,000 for their use of the field from March to June. The Hawks soccer department has already begun taking advantage of their presence, setting up a non-league spring game against the Suns. It also gives aspiring Hawk players something to aim for. 

They aren’t just a soccer team, but an athletic club that hopes to build in the shadows of the large sporting clubs in Europe. Next year they plan on creating a women’s soccer team. A cricket team is also in the works. Their mission is to enhance the resources and opportunities for athletes in the Tri-Valley to help build a stronger overall community through sports, a journey Las Positas is excited to help foster. 

BAY VALLEY SUNS men’s soccer will pay the school $6,000 to rent its field and will play a friendly against the Hawks men’s soccer team. (Photo by Jakob Arnarsson/The Express)

But it all starts with the Suns men’s soccer team competing in the UPSL Norcal South Premier League. Despite being established less than a year ago, the team boasts an exceptional coaching staff bringing  over five decades of soccer expertise that spans the globe. That, coupled with their sponsors such as ESG Consulting, Lombard Partners and Luton Town investor Karavadra, the club believes they can quickly climb to the highest level of American soccer, the MLS.

Karavadra is no stranger to the difficult climb to the top. Luton Town was in the fourth-highest league of English football, League Two, for the 2017-18 season. In six short years, the Club advanced into the Premier League. It’s a path Colton Portela, the club’s co-founder and Director of Sporting Operations, hopes the Suns can emulate. 

“(Karavadra) also invested in Luton Town when they were pretty much where we’re at, on the bottom,” Portela said. “He’s lived in the area for so long, and he sees how much soccer has grown that I think he sees the same vision.”

A vision that begins here, at LPC. For some, it’s also a reunion. Portela himself is a Las Positas alumnus who used to play soccer on this same field. He also played club level at Ballistic United Soccer Club (UCSB) in Pleasanton, where he played under current Hawks soccer coach Andrew Cumbo. Several other members of the team, such as Leo Barajas, Adolfo Trujillo and Grant LaFleur, who all started in the home opener, also each used to be a part of the Hawks soccer program. The strong connection and history the two groups share helped create a stronger alliance and collaborative environment that is mutually beneficial not only for the Suns and the Hawks but for the entire community.

“I love having the opportunity to bring the community to our campus,” President Dyrell Foster said. “Part of our role as a community college is to serve our community, so it aligns with our mission and our values. I’m excited about what this will mean for our community.”

One way the Suns are attempting to bring that community presence is by making tickets to their home games free for all Las Positas students and faculty. This idea is one the Suns introduced with the hope of creating a stronger bond with the student body.

“I’ve talked to everybody on the coaching staff and the athletic department,” Portela said. “We’ve made a pretty good partnership, so we’re all excited for where we’re going.”

Portela believes that having the Suns on campus gives the Hawks athletes a unique opportunity to create a connection with a team at the next level. Meanwhile, Cumbo feels that the Suns’ presence won’t just impact his players but the overall campus community.

“It brings people to campus,” Cumbo said. “It increases soccer in the community, which is cool.”

The Suns’ prestigious set of sponsors has the group already thinking big, leading to talks of an upcoming multi-million dollar stadium being built for the Suns here in the Tri-Valley area, likely around Pleasanton. They plan on using Las Positas College in the meantime and are ready to extend their contract for however long it may be required. Despite the fact the Suns are only looking to use the Nest temporarily, Foster hopes to build a more permanent bond.

“I think the relationship,” Foster said, “will develop even further as we continue to support each other in this. I’d like Las Positas College to still be connected and a part of their success as they move forward.”

Foster believes having potential access to a large stadium could be greatly beneficial, opening avenues for the school to host even larger events than they have been able to in the past. 

“I hope so,” Colton added when speaking of a potential long-term relationship. “That’s the whole point of building this in the Tri-Valley that all the clubs, all the teams will benefit off of this.”

The Suns are years removed from a potential stadium. Their focus today lies on creating a strong following for their club while trying to compete in their opening season.

Their first game at The Nest certainly helped those two goals. Despite the unfavorable conditions, the Suns still drew a devoted crowd. They made a concerted effort to entertain people before the game, securing a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the visiting Cruizers FC from Modesto before walking over to the fan side of the pitch and giving fans a standing ovation. This is why they are doing this: to unite people, loyal enough to sit in the cold and the rain just to support their local sports team.

“You know, when you score,” David Arenas, the Suns attacking midfielder who scored the lone goal, said, “it’s always the best feeling when you have your fans cheering.”

Someday, it will be a whole stadium cheering them on. But for now, the Nest will have to do. 

Francis Kennedy is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him on X, formally Twitter  @FRANCISK16571.

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