As a relatively new coach of one of the teams in Quick 6 Football—the premier seven-on-seven football league for high school and junior high school players around California—I was eager to head out to Concord, California to host one of our most popular and important tournaments of the season. I’d heard it was a nice place, but I had questions since I’d never been there before.
What would the field be like? Could they handle all of us? Had they hosted sporting events of this size before? And what about downtime? Was there anything for coaches, players and families to do when we weren’t on the gridiron?
“Relax,” said my assistant coach, Mike. “We were there for a tournament last year, and the whole thing ran like a well-oiled machine. That’s how it’ll be this time, too, whether we’re playing football or grabbing some beers and pizza downtown after the game. Trust me.”
I did—and he was right.
A HIDDEN GEM NO MORE
In all my years in California, I’d never spent time in Concord, but it seems I should have. Located just about 30 miles east of San Francisco—a short BART ride away—Concord has subtly evolved over the years into not only an attractive escape for the weekend, but a sought-after destination for sporting events such as the tournaments Quick 6 hosts.
In our case, the town welcomed 20 teams of high school football players from all over the state of California, with hundreds of supportive coaches, staff and parents.
In terms of Concord being a nice weekend getaway, it’s become known for its downtown farmers market, the craft brews that line the Concord Beer Trail—you can’t miss the Hopslayer double IPA at Epidemic Ales—nearby wineries and even the epic Six Flags Hurricane Harbor waterpark. With nine hotels and three nearby airports in addition to renowned trails and views from atop Mount Diablo in Mount Diablo State Park, the appeal of Concord becomes very clear.
Even more appealing to Mike and me, though, was the reputation that Concord has built up for its handling and hosting of sporting events and tournaments. That was a big factor when Quick 6 first started hosting some of its events there, and once Mike had been to a tournament in Concord, he was hooked.
“You would not believe the facilities,” he said before we got there. “They were in great shape and ideal for our players and our tournament.”
Mount Diablo High School’s football field is top-tier. The main field, with its artificial grass, is kept in prime shape, and adjacent practice fields offer plenty of room for drills, scrimmages and other functions.
“It’s by far one of the nicest fields we’ve held the tournament on,” Mike told me. Beyond the facilities, the coordination of the Quick 6 tournament was seamless, he said.
That happened largely because the folks he dealt with from Visit Concord, the brand of the Concord Tourism Improvement District (TID), were friendly, accommodating and supportive from start to finish, Mike said. For years, the city has been a prime destination for a range of sporting events, from basketball, soccer and football tournaments to half marathons and charity runs and walks. Concord has four basketball courts, seven football fields, 14 softball fields and 28 soccer fields.
“It’s by far one of the nicest fields we’ve held the tournament on,” Mike told me.
A HUGE SCORE
We rolled in for the Quick 6 tournament on one of Concord’s plentiful sunny spring days. Everything we’d coordinated, from hotel rooms to sports facilities, came together perfectly, and though our team fell a tad short of the championship, they had the time and experience of their lives.
“Hey coach,” my quarterback called to me after the game, “why don’t we have a field this nice back at home?”
I was thinking the same thing.
After our last game, our kids were famished, but they were still amped up from their entire weekend and wanted to spend some time exploring Concord beyond its football fields. Our first stop? Todos Santos Plaza, the heart of downtown, and the nearby Skipolinis Pizza for some serious refueling. The next morning, we made the 15-mile drive to the summit of Mount Diablo to take in the observation and views that spanned as far as the eye could see.
My quarterback ribbed me again.
“Hey coach,” he said, “we need a mountain like this back home.”
After a fantastic weekend and football tournament in Concord, I realized that there was a lot the city offered that I wished we had back at home. As we left, I thought about all we had experienced, how smoothly it had gone and how memorable it had been. I felt silly about all my initial questions. Mike had been right about Concord all along.