An encyclopedia describes a road-runner as "a swift-footed bird found in the Southwestern United States." But Reston is breeding its own kind of "roadrunners."
They are a human species, aged 9 and 10, often seen wearing soccer uniforms.
There are only 16 of them, and they are rare birds indeed.
In just four seasons of playing select soccer together, the Reston Roadrunners have won 135 games while losing only 12. And their most recent tournament victory -- last week in Canada's 15th annual Robbie Cup Tournament in Toronto -- established the Roadrunners as a legitimate North American power-house within their age group.
The Robbie is generally considered North America's premier soccer tournament. Teams from all over the world apply to get in, and only the top teams are accepted. This year, there were 224 teams from seven countries in six different age groups.
Despite their outstanding record, the Roadrunners and their coach, Jim Nylund, knew capturing the Robbie would be their toughest challenge. For one thing, their opening game was against Wexford, Ontario, a team which defeated the Roadrunners three times at tournaments in the past two years.
"Wexford is just great, the very toughest of the Canadian teams," Nylund says. Not tough enough this time, though. Wexford fell 4-1, and the Roadrunners were on their way to seven consecutive victories.
There were a couple of breathers along the way -- an 8-0 win over the Institue of Mexico and a 9-0 rout of Stouffville, Ontario. The came the quarter finals, and the competition stiffened.
The Roadrunners defeated Oakville, the Ontario Cup champions, 2-1 in the quarter finals. The semi-finals pitted Reston against East Brunswick, N.J., a team that had defeated the Roadrunners in overtime in April. This time, the Roadrunners won 2-1 on a goal by John Todd with just 30 seconds left in the second overtime period.
In the final game, the Roadrunnrs met a familiar opponent -- Wheaton, Md. The two teams play in the same division during the regular season, and they generally tie for first place.
At the end of regulation play, the game was tied 1-1. Reston's only score came from David Jones, who was celebrating his 10th birthday. After two overtime periods, it was still 1-1.
The game's outcome was decided by a shootout -- each team took five penalty shots one-on-one against the other team's goalkeeper. Adam Rugel, Khary Stockton, Mike Patz and George Thomas all made their shots for Reston. Only three Wheaton players made theirs. So the Roadrunnrs won the match and the Robbie Cup, 2-1.
"I'm proud of their accomplishments, but I'm even more proud of the way they've achieved them. They play a clean game, and they win the respect of their opponents through their performance on the field."
Indeed, the satisfaction of being associated with the Roadrunners seems to run deeper than the 13 trophies each player has won in just two years. "I'm not a big sports person, and I certainly never thought I'd get caught up in this," says Ellen Rugel, whose son Adam is a halfback for the Roadrunners. "But these kids get along so well together on and off the field it's just a plesure to watch them."