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Celebrating 50 Years of ASA: Recreational League

Leading up to the Golden Gala—ASA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on March 26, 2022—we are sharing interesting historical facts about the history of ASA. Check in each week to learn about the history of the club, what the early years looked like, who was involved and much more! [Here’s week 1 and week 2 in case you missed them].

Excerpt from an ASA Newsletter, 1997:

“The long-standing policy of ASA, as reflected in the Handbook, is to organize teams based on ‘Area of Residence.’

  • Teams are generally formed in the Spring by Age Group (Division) Coordinators, and represent neighborhood areas arranged by public school districts.”

 

For 50 years the Recreational League program has remained the heart and soul of Alexandria Soccer. It continues to be our largest program (2,200+ children this year), drawing participants of every experience level, from every corner of the city and beyond. The Rec League engages the community with volunteers coaching the teams, high school students supporting game days and young participants interacting with kids from neighborhoods around the city. (Read about the Rec League coaching experience here and here).

The tagline for this program is, “fun, fitness and friendships!” It is our goal to provide a fun and age appropriate experience for any child who wants to play, ages 4-19. Many kids play together on the same team for many years.

ASA Recreational teams. The light blue team (R) was a Rosemont neighborhood team in 1977.

As noted in the newsletter excerpt above, teams were originally organized exclusively by neighborhood and school. Each neighborhood had a specific jersey color so that when neighborhood teams competed against each other the jersey colors never conflicted.

Excerpt from an ASA Newsletter, 1999:

“On Saturdays there were streams of blue and gray groups streaming to and from soccer fields around the city. There were regiments of Killer Bees and Lightning, Yellow Jackets and Parrots. The younger divisions produced the greatest diversity of team names. More than ever before, the kids came from every neighborhood across the city, bringing friends and relatives to watch their complex mastery as they learned to weave and work together on those magical mornings.”

(L) 1989 — “Pit Panthers” pose after a game, (R) 1994 — Coach Liz (Tots Director!) in her yellow ASA jersey.

Today, teams are still organized primarily by neighborhood and school. This means that practices are conveniently located near a child’s school and that they are teamed up with classmates. We do honor requests from kids who want to play on a team in a neighborhood different from their school though. We believe that so much of the soccer experience (especially with younger children) is about playing with friends.

In the past decade we’ve transitioned to just red and blue jerseys to provide continuity around the city. Each child owns a set of jerseys and the home team wears red and the away team wears blue. We miss the fun colors of the past but it’s easier and more economical for families to use the same kit year after year until it’s time to purchase a larger size.

(L) mid-1980s — a Delray neighborhood team, (R) 2015 — a Rec team in an early version of the current blue rec jerseys.

We’ve also made the transition from calendar year to school year. Fall is the “first season” of the year which means that children play with their school grade for the full school year (as opposed to starting the soccer year in the spring and transitioning between grades between the two seasons).

While these small structural details have changed, the joy and fun of the Rec League has remained the same. It is our hope that the fun community environment continues to encourage and foster a love of soccer for participants and families for years to come!

ASA Rec League kids play soccer in their red and blue jerseys.

Don’t forget to purchase your ticket to the Golden Gala! Join us for an evening of food, beverages and celebration.

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