Silver Wings hit the road in Spain
Fortunately, Reno Silver Wings head coach Aldo Petrolino’s hard work is coming back to haunt him.
In a late-June scrimmage, his girls took on the Reno Zephyrs, a team consisting of four former Silver Wings he coached.
Over the years, the Silver Wings program, founded by Petrolino, has afforded young women the chance to experience soccer on a level typically not found in high school competition.
Still, he’ll be the first to tell you it’s pride-inspiring to see his former players move on to greater challenges.
“We do Silver Wings to make sure there is a forum for girls aspiring to move on to higher ranks of high school or college athletics, even semi-professional,” Petrolino, a Brazilian native and former professional soccer player, said.
This week, seven Tahoe-Truckee High School girls’ soccer players -Becca Shook, Callie Pratt, Natalie Pratt, Megan Minnick, Megan Martin, Lindsey Back and Jill Marchi – are in Spain with the Silver Wings taking Europe by storm.
Having won their first two games (2-0 and 4-0), the girls are off to a solid start.
The 17-member team typically draws as many as 60 players trying out for the coveted spots.
And it has been neither cheap nor easy to keep a program like Silver Wings running.
Petrolino said it costs $43,000 to run the team for six months, including the annual tour of Europe where the girls play Spanish and other teams in regional tournaments.
Although the Silver Wings experience is a step up from prep play, he is quick to credit Truckee with having the best soccer program around.
“Truckee actually has the best program in the area,” he said. “It’s something Reno can’t yet match. There’s something in the genes up there. The parents bike and hike and ski; they discipline their kids.”
Some of those former Truckee children -including Allison Back, Sarah Murray and Jackie Robinson, to name a few, have advanced from the Silver Wings program to play in college.
“That’s why I do what I do,” he said.
Petrolino said their successes provide direct inspiration for current Silver Wings.
He said it also helps that the women’s USA team has advanced to the finals of the World Cup, bringing much-needed recognition to the sport.
“My girls now have someone to look up to instead of just guys,” he said. “I would not be surprised if USA goes on to win. They are strong and have a lot of support. They are playing terrific soccer.”
Petrolino’s comments came days before USA shut out Brazil, advancing to the finals against China Saturday.
Riding the wave of American soccer success, the Silver Wings are touring five countries, including Spain and Denmark.
And from the looks of things, Truckee is a big factor in their success. A game against Galicia, Spain, saw two Silver Wings goals – one from Shook in the 11th minute and one from Callie Pratt in the 36th minute.
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The Truckee boys’ soccer team shutout its third straight opponent on Saturday, taking a 5-0 win at home against Dayton.