Morris Elite Soccer Club Is More Than Sports

By Steve Sears

Morris Elite Soccer is, yes, about the sport of soccer, but it is so much more.

“The true foundation for Morris Elite is the fact that it’s a family or community-based club that is more than just the club,” says Vincenzo Bernardo, President and Owner. “We always go by that motto, that ‘Morris Elite is more than just a club.’ It’s beyond that, it’s beyond the soccer on the field.”

The vision of Morris Elite, gleaned form their website: Look to harness the ability of our members and provide them with the opportunities to excel both on and off the field. Our motives are to create a reputation of developing exceptional human beings while aiding those who wish to graduate onto programs of the highest caliber.

Founded in 2016, Morris Elite is a premiere, youth soccer club. “I played 10 years professionally and I grew up in Madison, New Jersey,” explains Bernardo. “When I retired, I came back to Madison and started Morris Elite from zero. Fast forward to 2020 and COVID, we obviously didn’t do much that spring into the summer. That was when we kind of put our heads together – myself and Scott Maloney, our Director of Coaching – and we put together an application to join the USL (United Soccer Leagues, LLC), which is considered the second tier of professional soccer in the United States.”

In the summer of 2021, Morris Elite fielded a men’s team, and then heard about the new USL W league commencing. Bernardo snatched the opportunity. “It’s the same kind of tier, which is the pre-professional soccer league for the women, it was a no-brainer for us to move forward and get the girls franchise as well. We were the first club in New Jersey to have both men’s and women’s USL franchises, and that’s important for us to make sure what we do on the men’s side, we do with the women, and vice versa.”

In their first season, Morris Elite Soccer Club’s women’s team won the 2022 USL W League Metropolitan Division title with an 8 -1 -3 record, and on Wednesday, July 13, hosted the inaugural USL W League Playoffs at Rutgers Newark’s Frederick Douglass Field. The team lost to McLean, Virginia, but has high hopes for 2023. “it’s kind of like the cherry on the cake after a great first season,” says Bernardo of Morris Elite serving as host of the first playoffs. “A lot of work was put in behind the scenes during the fall season, putting the team together. Coach Steph (Savino), coach Scott (Maloney), coach Richy (Castro) and coach Aris (Alpian) – the four coaches on staff – they did a great job just selecting the right players that fit the mold.”

The sport of soccer gave Bernardo many things. “World culture, world knowledge, traveling the world, so many friendships, and so many relationships throughout the year.” He saw a way of giving that back to others. “When I started Morris Elite, I wanted to make sure that we were a community-based club and that the coaches are all just really good mentors. Obviously, we want great coaches, but we want great people as well in the organization, because these are the people that are mentoring and being part of these young children’s lives.” For Bernardo, it harkens back to his days growing up, as a former player and his own experiences. “Going to tournaments and playing on teams, and building great, great relationships with my teammates. One of the main focus points for me when starting Morris Elite was to make sure that it’s a club full of good people and families. I think when you have a strong foundation like that, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to the business side of it, growing it, and obviously the results side, winning games and getting results.”

“This is the next chapter in my life,” says Bernardo happily. “When we did the tryouts, I knew that this was a new thing for me, and I’m learning a lot in terms of the business aspects of running a club. But I love it every day. I’m around the game, and who can ask for more? Overall, the vision for the club is just to continue on this pathway, to continue molding young players into great people, and teaching them life lessons along the way.”

For more information about Morris Elite Soccer Club, visit www.morriselitesoccer.com.

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