There is a common misconception about “travel teams” at our NA Soccer Club. Many people think that you have to try-out to play on a travel team and that if they don’t make the team, their child can’t play soccer in our club. Neither are true. Our foremost mission is to help as many community kids continue to play soccer as many years as possible. At the same time, we need to provide competitive environments for the kids so that they are challenged and not discouraged from playing. For that reason, there are multiple levels of play so that every child can enjoy the experience with kids of similar size and skill.
The following “travel soccer” facts should help you understand if and how your child fits into the travel program:
- Around fifth grade (U11) we run out of enough kids to have enough teams to have a variety in recreational league (rec) play. This is due to a combination of having more kids on the field for each team and kids starting to specialize in extracurricular activities other than soccer. We therefore field travel teams that play against other similar community clubs’ teams such as Hampton, Shaler, Pine Richland, and Fox Chapel. Due to NA’s size, these away games might be closer to your home than NA home games. Anyone who signs up for U11-U19 teams can be put on a team, or on rare occasions the waiting list, should the numbers not be enough for additional complete teams.
- PA-West (the organization that affiliates youth soccer in our region) has multiple levels of play. Division 6 (D6) is the entry level and where most of our teams participate. We try to place a more competitive team at the D5 level in each division each season. If we have what we feel are a talented bunch, we will also have spring tryouts for a team to play D4 and higher the following spring. Fall season is harder to play higher leagues due to losing kids to school programs.
- For U8-U10, we do field some D4 teams for travel and yes, we do have tryouts. D4 teams travel farther for competitive play in West Virginia, Altoona, Erie, etc. That isn’t for most of our elementary kids though. Our rec league has competitive play in our own neighborhood. The convenience of Saturday morning games that don’t monopolize your weekend was something we enjoyed with our kids for many years.
Travel teams play an important role in NASC. Their greatest importance is providing a distribution of choices to keep teams competitive for all club members. There are options to play on other area “club” teams that may better suit your aspirations. Right now, to keep more than a thousand NA kids having fun each spring and fall in our community, I think our program has the right perspective.
We can always use more help keeping our volunteer-based organization running. We have plenty of roles for everyday people, not just super-star coaches. Please consider registering to help or asking a board member what you can do.