Should my child play travel soccer?
The travel program seeks players who would like a more competitive soccer environment and who will make a commitment to improve their skills and knowledge of soccer tactics and strategy. Players are chosen on the basis of their current soccer skills, general athletic ability, and willingness to commit to a more demanding soccer program. Players with good soccer skills or good general athletic ability (and with dedicated and supportive parents) are encouraged to try out for ASA travel soccer.
ASA travel teams practice at local soccer fields in Alexandria. Games are then split to have half home games (Alexandria soccer field) and half away games played at other league team fields. Boys compete in the National Capital Soccer League (NCSL). Girls play the first years in the Old Dominion Soccer League (ODSL) and then join the Washington Area Girls League (WAGS) for ages U11 and older. Each age group is divided into divisions consisting of ten teams each. The strongest teams are in the first division, and the less-developed teams are in the fifth division. At the season’s end, teams with the best records move up to the next division, and teams with the poorest record may move down to a lower division. Teams finishing at the bottom of the lowest division may be eliminated to make room for new teams.
Practices for the fall season begin in early August. League games begin the week after Labor Day, and the season ends in early November. In the spring, practices begin in early March, and games run from April through early June. Most teams also attend one or two tournaments each season.
Teams usually practice two to three times per week during the regular season. Players are expected to attend all practices and games. Many players sign up for ASA individual skill training programs in addition to team practices. ASA is also happy to recommend personal trainers to interested parents.
Tryouts are held to select players for the new teams that are formed each year in entry-level age groups. Existing teams are required to hold tryouts each year in June to fill vacancies and allow new players to compete for positions on the team.
Unlike in the recreational league, playing time is not guaranteed in travel soccer. Coaches determine playing time based on player ability and game situations. Parents should understand that the WAGS and NCSL are very competitive leagues. Non-competitive teams are dropped from the league at the end of each season and must reapply for admittance.
Half of the games are home games, and the rest will mostly be in the Washington metro area (e.g., Springfield, Reston, or Montgomery County). Some games could be as far away as Baltimore, but few require more than a 30 to 45 minute drive.
Average cost billed by ASA per family is $1,200 per year, which can be paid in one lump sum or in three installments. This fee includes coaching fees, league fees, insurance, club fees, equipment costs, field fees, and tournament fees. Players are required to purchase an Adidas Uniform that typically lasts 2-3 years or 4-6 seasons.
All ASA travel soccer coaches must have a US Soccer or NSCAA coaching license and many of them are constantly working to obtain the next higher license by continuing their soccer education. All coaches go through an intensive hiring process by ASA to become professional coaches. ASA’s professional coaches give travel soccer participants the best opportunity to grow and learn soccer from some of the best players and coaches in the Washington DC area.
Travel team head coaches determine who will be on each team’s roster during tryouts each year.
It is best for players to play on teams within their own age groups. In any event, older players are never allowed to "play down" on a younger team under NCSL and WAGS rules. In certain cases, younger players may be allowed to "play up" on older teams, with the permission of the team coaches and ASA.
Teams need more than coaches to survive and thrive. Every team needs a team manager, who is the team’s chief administrative officer. The manager ensures that player passes, game cards, and referee evaluation forms are present at all games; retains medical release forms; prepares phone trees; prepares league and tournament registration materials; and ensures that information is disseminated to players and parents. Travel teams also should have a treasurer to help ensure that fees are paid.
Online at www.alexandria-soccer.com under travel soccer, a link will be posted to register in Korrio (ASA’s travel registration system). There will be a group created to register under for tryouts each year. If the child makes the team, another registration will be created for a specific team so that fees for travel soccer may be paid to ASA.