In serving a broad spectrum of players across 15 years of age, a league of our size needs to differentiate levels of play to keep it fun for kids progressing at different rates.
- Kids in U8 and lower all play co-ed “rec” games (recreational).
- By the time the kids are 8 or 9 years old we try to build teams that start to travel and play outside the club for those who are more serious about competitive soccer (Perhaps 10-20% of the kids). This “competitive travel” requires try-outs more practices and further travel, including tournaments. Kids staying in “rec soccer” continue to practice once per week and play Saturday mornings, though rather than coed, the boys and girls play in their own divisions broken in 2-year increments.
- Once the kids are of middle-school age, our numbers start to thin out and we don’t always have enough kids to have in-house leagues, so we register kids in travel teams that play locally within the “PA-West” League. This “community travel” requires no try-outs and plays other community soccer clubs like Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel, Shaler, and North Hills, to name a few.
- High School kids can continue to play either community travel or competitive travel. The teams practice 2 nights per week as one large group, primarily scrimmaging. The aggregation of teams varies a bit as participation in school athletics changes the spring and fall competition throughout the area we compete in.
We feel that we provide a good opportunity for area kids to keep playing soccer during all of their years in our school district. Breaking up the levels of play is important in the development of the kids’ games. It allows all to play in a safe and encouraging atmosphere while allowing the more serious athletes to play close to home at affordable rates.
Please feel free to comment and offer recommendations as well. We’d love to here from you and always have room for volunteers looking to improve the kids’ experience playing in the NASC.