Megan Ball

Megan Ball (right) of Miller, shown in action in a game against Fontana last December, will be one of the participants in the Inland Valley Soccer All-Star Classic on May 15.  (Herald News photo by Alejandro Cano)

When the Boost Mobile Inland Valley Soccer All-Star Classic takes place on Sunday, May 15, it will be a continuation of a great series of high school games taking place right here in Fontana.

The first-ever soccer event, featuring some of the top seniors in the local area, will begin at 4 p.m. with the girls' game and will follow with the boys' game at 5:30 p.m. at Fontana A.B. Miller High School.

This series began in the winter of 2015 when John Romagnoli, who was then the athletic director at Miller, looked for a way to revive a basketball all-star game which had been dormant for several years.

He teamed up with Fontana resident Brian Arrington and Eddie Talbert of IE Sports Net to create the Inland Valley Basketball All-Star Classic, which was a big success. As a result, Romagnoli and IE Sports Net established all-star games for additional sports.

"We’ve expanded the Inland Valley Classic beyond just the basketball game," Arrington said. "We now host an all-star football game, all-star girls’ volleyball game, and all-star boys' and girls’ soccer game."

The average attendance for all six games in the Inland Valley Classic series is about 8,000 spectators annually. The game with the highest attendance was the football clash, which took place in January at Miller, and another good crowd is expected for the upcoming soccer showdown.

"The success of the Inland Valley Classic has led to growth of IE Sports Net," Arrington said. "When we initially produced the first Basketball Classic game last year, we were on KCAA 1050 AM in San Bernardino. We’ve rode the success of the game, and expanded the show to Fox Sports 1350."

Arrington is very thankful for the support of Romagnoli as well as the sponsorship provided by Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and the Fontana Police Officers Association (represented by President Andrew Vestey and Ted Hunt).

"Our ultimate goal is for the Inland Valley Classic to become a foundation that can assist underprivileged youth participate in athletics, as well as make donations to San Bernardino County high schools' athletic programs," Arrington said.

So far, IE Sports Net has awarded college scholarships to participating students with the highest GPAs.

In addition, all the student athletes playing in the all-star games receive a custom uniform that is theirs to keep.

"We have never charged an athlete to participate in our games," Arrington said.

In 2017, the organizers will consider adding additional games to the Inland Valley Classic series.

In the meantime, local residents are invited to enjoy the soccer games on May 15. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students, $3 for students with ASB cards, and $3 for children under 12 and seniors over 65.

In the boys' game, the Eastern all-stars will be coached by Erik Espino of Kaiser High School.

Local players for the Eastern team will be Ivan Macias, Alejandro Villanueva, and Kevin Salazar of Summit; Anthony Garcia and Jesus Bolanos of Kaiser; Santiago Gomez, Juan Aguilar, and Oscar Casillas of Fontana; and Jason Hernandez and Leonardo Medina of Bloomington.

In the girls' game, Megan Ball of Miller and Kaitlin Seebaran of Summit will be playing on the Eastern team. Metztli Gonzalez of Etiwanda will compete on the Western squad.

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