Information last posted at 12:30 PM Tuesday April 16, 2013.
The Select or Travel program has the same goals for our players as those of our other programs - a rich soccer experience that is educational, fun and safe, and promotes a life-long love, and respect, for the game - and we achieve this through many of the same methods used in our other programs. The Select program fields teams in U9 through U19.
But the Select program is intended for the more serious player, players who wish to develop and compete at the highest level of individual and team play and are intending to play in high school or perhaps even in college. From this perspective, we are typical of select programs across the state - our most competitive teams play in NCSL (National Capitol Soccer League) and WAGS (Washington Area Girls Soccer) - both of which are considered by United States Youth Soccer to be among the top, most-competitive in the country. But one area where we distinguish ourselves is that we also compete in BBSL (Baltimore Beltway Soccer League) and the Anne Arundel county travel program, AAYSL, affording our players the opportunity to continue their soccer education at a higher level of training and opportunity than is typically offered through recreation programs. And CMSSL (Central Maryland Short Sided League) is an excellent league for the younger age groups seeking the toughest competition but also wanting to minimize travel.
The success of Select programs is directly related to the quality of the coaching. Most high-performing clubs use the paid-coach model. Here at GSPAA, all coaches are volunteers. Yet our coaching faculty is full of experienced, credentialed coaches. Many of our Head Coaches are former college players and have extensive club and high school experience. GSPAA Soccer also pays for or subsidizes a host of licensing courses and continuing education seminars in both classroom and field instruction to ensure that our players receive the best coaching available.
Membership on a Select team is determined through a tryout process. We conduct three sessions which occur just at the conclusion of each league's spring seasons. We chose this time so as to permit families to take their summer vacations as well as to generally not be in conflict with the tryout process of other clubs. Please see the Tryouts link for all detailed information. These tryouts are for the upcoming or "rising" age group. In addition to these formal sessions, teams may conduct supplemental sessions during the course of the seasonal year.
In general, our club philosophy is to use the A,B,C team model, that is, the very top players are on the "A" team, the next level of players are assigned to the "B" team, and depending on age and gender, one or more C teams may be fielded. Typically, the "A" team would play in NCSL or WAGS, the "B" team in BBSL, and the "C" team in AAYSL. But we encourage ALL teams to compete in the most appropriate level of competition possible. If a particular age/gender is particularly strong, we permit both teams to compete in the top leagues. For the younger age groups, we have begun to employ the method where by players are assigned to teams in a balanced fashion so that we don't risk making performance assessments too early in the process. And now that the various leagues embrace this approach, teams face no performance penalties while their players learn the game.
Select players who are offered a roster spot on an "A" team are expected to commit to that team for the entire seasonal year, no matter what other sports or activities they may wish to explore. Both WAGS and NCSL require teams younger than high school-aged to play both seasons of a seasonal year. GSPAA policy permits soccer to make this a requirement of a roster position, as well as playing time. The details of this policy are available on this site.
Select teams typically train twice a week and participation is required unless for a suitable reason, and may require additional fitness or educational activities to these sessions. They may also engage in team-oriented activities during the off-season, which are entirely optional for any player and have no affect on their standing on a team. Select teams also play in pre-, mid- and post-season tournaments, which are required activities if they occur during the "season" (GSPAA defines the season as the period of 6 weeks before the first scheduled league game until the end of the league's season, which can be extended if the team plays in a Thanksgiving Day tournament or showcase, in the fall season).
The costs associated with a Select team are dependent on the number of tournaments and training activities the team engages in. Fixed costs include the $100 seasonal registration fee, the $75 once-yearly family fee, and the approximate $130 cost of the required home and away kit (this is typically required once every 2 years). Additionally, typical expenses include shoes and other personal equipment (warm-ups, bags, shinguards, etc.), and costs for tournaments, travel, logistics and per-diem expenses. It is typical for a Select player on an "A" team to spend $600 per year, not including travel costs.
GSPAA Soccer coaches may not receive payments or gifts from the team during the seasons during which they compete in a recognized league. GSPAA permits modest "Thank You" gifts to coaches, managers, and other adults who give their time for the team, for the purpose of recognizing their time and effort.