Contact Sally Korsh, Girls Director, at
or Mark Bieler, Boys Director, at
To the Parents of Children that Participate in (or Want to Participate in) Travel Soccer:
The Weston Soccer Club, Inc. has formalized policies and procedures that are used in evaluating players and forming Travel teams. As participation in soccer has grown in Weston, it has become even more important to have standard policies and procedures that are followed consistently across all of the teams in the Club and from one season to the next. These policies and procedures have been created over time and have been formalized and ratified by the Board of Directors.
The purpose of this policy is to outline those rules so that everyone understands what we do and how we do it. The volunteers and professionals involved with the Club work diligently to create balanced, inclusive and consistent programs for all interested Weston children. With the success of the Rec Plus Program over the past several years, we are proud to say that the Soccer Club provides every Weston child from kindergarten to eighth grade who wants to play organized soccer with an opportunity to do so.
The Weston Soccer Club's Board of Directors consists of volunteers elected each September at the Club's annual meeting by the Club membership. The Board develops the policies and procedures governing the Club that are implemented by the relevant Director. Directors do not have the authority to make unilateral changes to these policies.
Each season the Club sponsors roughly 20 teams for 4th to 8th graders (plus the kindergarten to 2nd and 3rd grade programs). The Board works carefully to develop and implement rules that make sense across the entire Club and within the context of individual teams. Exceptions to the rules are avoided except in truly unique and special situations. When an exception to the rules is allowed, care is taken to ensure the exception makes sense in the larger context of all the teams and from one season to the next. Exceptions are rare because issues tend to be consistent from one team to the next and where exceptions are ubiquitous, there are no rules.
Because the Club has developed a vibrant Rec Plus League that runs through 8th grade for both boys and for girls, every Weston child has the opportunity to play soccer. Over time, many players move from Rec Plus to Travel as their skills develop. Since children mature and develop at different rates, both physically and mentally, a player who receives a Rec Plus invitation one year may well return to be a star in the Travel program in another year.
Here are the major rules that we use in creating Travel League teams:
In order to be considered for a team, players must be registered for the tryout. We try hard to be fair in what we do when a parent fails to register their child or fails to get their child to the tryout. Frankly, we hate to penalize a child because his/her parent has not followed the rules. Everyone is busy and everyone has lots of things going on in his/her life. The Club works hard to communicate what needs to be done and when the deadlines are. We will take late registrations for Travel soccer with a late fee of $35.00. If a parent doesn't register their child or doesn't get them to the tryout, there needs to be a very good reason for it before we make an exception. Examples of acceptable reasons include: just moved to town, a death in the family or an official school event -- something substantial.
We have full, open tryouts each spring for the following fall season. By "full, open tryouts" we mean that every child has an equal opportunity to demonstrate their skill and attitude and be invited to play Travel soccer. Every player must try out for the team. No child has a preordained right to be on the team. Players on the fall team now have automatic spots on the spring team if they want them. For the spring season we have open tryouts for any vacant roster spots.
There is no tenure system whereby some children receive automatic invitations to the fall team solely because they have been on the team in the past. Each child participating in the tryout has an equal opportunity to receive a Travel invitation. To receive a Travel invitation, players must display a level of skill and attitude that places them high enough in the professional coaches' rankings. Sometimes a child that has played Travel previously does not receive a Travel invitation in the subsequent season. Or, all of his/her friends receive Travel invitations and he/she does not. As hard as this can be for a child (or for the parents), we fundamentally believe that the value of having open tryouts outweighs the value of keeping kids together that "are such good friends" or "have played so well together."
Every child that wants to play soccer has the opportunity to play. This is why we have worked so hard to create the Rec Plus Program. Although we believe that soccer is a wonderful opportunity for personal growth through self-discipline, physical fitness, teamwork and fair play, we are a sports association, not a social club. We believe that every Weston child should have an equal right to play soccer in Weston.
Professional soccer coaches are hired by the Club to run the tryouts and evaluate the players. When possible the current Travel coach and the current Rec Plus coach are used for the tryouts. These professionals have no self-interest in the tryout results other than to evaluate and rank the children by merit. The coaches rank the players in five skill/attribute areas and on an overall basis from the strongest player to the weakest.
Parents of the children playing in the program are not involved in the decision of who makes a Travel team. In fact, parents of players trying out are not allowed to witness the tryout. The parents who administer the program have the sole responsibility for taking the coaches' rankings and communicating the results.
Weston Kids First
We prioritize invitations for Travel teams to children that live in Weston. This is the Weston Soccer Club and, while we can take a certain number kids from other towns under the applicable CJSA rules, we do this only when there are spots not filled by Weston kids. As much as we like to win, the Club prioritizes participation over competition. We believe we have an obligation to Weston children first and foremost. When we have an opening on a given team in a given season, we welcome out-of-town players, but only on a season-by-season basis and so long as there continues to be room for them because there are less Weston players than the maximum roster size.
This prioritization of Weston children first extends even to situations where an out-of- town player has been on a Weston team. We accept out of town players only when we do not have enough Weston players to fill the roster and it is in the best interest of the program to accept outside players.
The Board has established roster sizes after consultation with our professional coaches, who we hold responsible for developing all players at practices and games and for allocating adequate playing time to make the experience productive for all players rostered on a team.
For U10, the maximum roster size is 14 players. At the U11-U14 age group, the roster size will be from 16-18 qualified players as determined by the evaluation of the professional coaches at the tryout and after consultation with the Travel Director.
Playing by Grade
The Soccer Club's Travel teams play under the auspices of the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association ("CJSA"). The CJSA has established maximum age guidelines for establishing teams that we must follow. Teams are defined as U-10, U11, etc., where the "U" stands for under, as in Under-10 years old. A child's "soccer age" is determined by their age on August 1st of each year. A child that is twelve on August 1 of this year cannot play U-12 soccer, but must play at least U-13.
Because Weston is such a small town with only one school for each grade, the Soccer Club has decided to orientate our teams to grades rather than to strictly apply the one-year age band, as some other towns do. In some ways this limits our competitiveness with other towns, but given that we are really building people, not professional soccer players, we believe that playing by grade, while still following the CJSA's maximum age rule, provides a better solution. Therefore, for example, while the U-11 boys and girls teams tend to be 5th graders, no one who plays on the U-11 team this fall can be older than eleven on August 1 of this year.
In the past the Club allowed children with exceptional ability to "play-up" to the next higher age group. The rule was, if the coaches ranked the child in the top five of the team they would play-up to, then they were given the option of playing on the higher age group team. The child needed to maintain that ranking in succeeding seasons in order to continue playing-up. The Board changed the policy such that children are no longer allowed to play up in the Travel program. (The children currently playing-up are grandfathered under the old rules so long as they continue to maintain their status in the top five of the team they are playing-up to.)
On every one of the Travel teams, there are situations where one could argue that one or more additional child should receive a Travel invitation. The argument is, "How much of a difference can one more child make?" Because we are a soccer club with fourteen or more Travel teams, we need to have consistency in the way we form teams. If we make an exception on one team, it needs to be specific and it needs to be differentiable from the situations on other teams - otherwise it should be a change to the rules, not an exception. In our experience, it is rare that there is an exception that is truly different and warrants increasing the roster size.
Fortunately, every child in Weston that wants to play soccer can play soccer. Perhaps not in the program of their choice, but certainly in the program that is dictated by their relative skill and the rules of the Club.
The order of how these rules are implemented can sometimes become important. Our prioritization of the rules is laid out in the order they are presented here. First consideration is given to the children that have been registered and have followed the tryout procedures. Next, we have full, open tryouts, giving no favoritism to children who have played on a Travel team previously. Then we prioritize Weston children over children from out of town and, finally, we strictly follow the roster size limitations.
The end result of any process of this type, whether it is auditions for a school play, assessment for TAG or tryouts for a soccer team, is that some children are invited to participate at the "higher" level and some are not. Unfortunately, sometimes our children try to reach a goal and, as much as we want to protect them from disappointment, they may be disappointed by not reaching their goal. What we have done as a Board is to ensure we have clear, consistent and fair rules that we follow uniformly, ensuring that no child misses out on an opportunity they deserve because of favoritism or arbitrary decisions made outside of a regular, articulated process.
We believe that these rules are clear, consistent and balanced. We also are realists and know that there are some people who will feel otherwise. Our goal is for you to understand that we have a uniform process that we follow and that we have developed that process thoughtfully and with the goal of doing what's right.
We welcome your input on these rules. It is through the diligent efforts of dedicated volunteers and professional soccer coaches that these rules are developed, communicated and implemented.
Almost without exception, when you are frustrated that something has not gone more smoothly, it is because there are too few people trying to get too much accomplished. We need more volunteers particularly in the program administration and communication areas. Please let us know if you might be willing to help. Although volunteering will not result in any preferential treatment for your child, it will give you a satisfying way to fulfill your personal obligation (which we believe every one of our parents has) to give of yourself for the benefit the community of children that play soccer in Weston.