Letters From The Editor: More than three cheers for Pilot Cup

I was taught not to brag, but today I want to boast about the Pilot Cup.

The fact that I have so little to do with the event makes it easier to talk about the people who do.

Sports Editor Steve Virgen and the sports staff bring the same professionalism to a kids soccer tournament that they would to reporting on the Toshiba Classic.

Photo Editor Don Leach and his team capture great images — and memories.

Web Editor Jamie Rowe builds and maintains the Pilot Cup webpage on which everyone depends.

The Los Angeles Times promotions duo Uriel Saenz and Cara Lies work tirelessly to plan and promote an event with complex logistics.

Event founder Kirk McIntosh has the hardest job, which I'll sum up as doing everything.

Next is Jeff Grant, organizer of indefatigable volunteer referees.

Laura Boss from Newport-Mesa Unified and Robby Waite from Parks and Recreation make sure we get the fields, maintenance and complex permissions to put on the event.

Zama Sports makes the colorful T-shirt jerseys that become keepsakes.

UC Irvine soccer players and coaches come down and inspire the kids.

Naming everyone involved would consume this space.

The tournament emphasizes what's right about Newport-Mesa. The Pilot Cup is about inclusiveness as much as it's about competition. Sportsmanship outshines the desire to win.

Every kid plays, every school in the two cities, public or private, is welcome to field teams. The fee is $10, with a portion of the proceeds this year going to Newport-Mesa schools.

A soccer dad myself, I love going down to The Farm to watch the parents watch their kids. I can't wait for Sunday.

And speaking of soccer dads, I am thrilled to announce that our new sports columnist, Leigh Steinberg, who is better known as a major Newport Beach sports agent and the inspiration for "Jerry Maguire," will help us present the medals at the Pilot Cup.

Steinberg was gracious enough to agree at the last minute to help us honor the winners at 4 p.m. Sunday at The Farm. He'll join me, my family and many of the people I named at the top of this column in handing out the awards.

The idea that a major player from the world of professional sports would help us out with our little youth tournament blows my mind.

But the people who volunteer at the Pilot Cup leave their egos on the sidelines.

That's why I don't mind doing a little bragging for them.

JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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