What is it like to play on a Travel team?
Our Travel teams differ from the Rec teams in many important ways. The first difference is that being on a Travel team is a larger commitment for both parents and players. Teams hold two practices per week on weeknights during the season (1.5 hours duration), and play eight games, typically on Saturdays but occasionally on a weeknight. The locations for the practices are on local Amherst fields and the locations for games are on local Amherst fields for home games and in neighboring towns for away games. West Springfield, Longmeadow, Chicopee, Northampton, Agawam, Ludlow, Belchertown, Wilbraham, Southwick are some of the other towns.
This is compared to our Rec program which combines practice and matches on one day per week, typically Saturday.
Another difference is that the fees for Travel soccer are higher than Rec. The fees for the Fall 2021 Season have not been set yet, but for the past several seasons the fee has been $192.00, which includes a uniform – and there are discounts and scholarships available to families in need. Players are eligible for a new uniform every 2 years. If a new uniform is needed before 2 years, one can be purchased at the regular price.
The final difference is that the Travel teams participate in the Roots Soccer League, which sets the game schedules and the rules of play. At the older ages, the teams compete to qualify for end-of-season playoffs and the statewide Massachusetts Tournament of Champions (MTOC). It is a competitive atmosphere!
What Does It Take To Make The Team?
The first step is to participate in the tryout that is appropriate for your child’s age and school grade. You can register at the following link: https://clubs.bluesombrero.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1039728
Our professional Director of Coaching conducts the tryouts for all players each year and with the Travel Director determines the placement for each player that is best for his or her development. Sometimes the result of the placement is to play on the most competitive Division 1 team, and sometimes the best place is a team that plays in a lower division. All teams receive the same high-quality training from our Director of Coaching (DOC) and staff throughout the season.
And sometimes the best place for a player is to continue in the Recreational program, which is also conducted by our Director of Coaching and staff.
How Are Teams Organized?
We field teams from the 2nd grade (a.k.a. U8 or 8U) to the 8th grade (a.k.a. U14 / 14U). There are separate teams for boys and girls. Volunteer parents coach the teams along with the DOC and staff. Our parent-coaches generally stay with the team from one season to the next.
Different age/grades have different roster sizes, field sizes, ball sizes, and number of players on the field: 2nd grade (8U) – 4th grade (10U) play 7 v 7, 5th (11U) & 6th (12U) grade play 9 v 9, and 7th (13U) and 8th grade (14U) play full 11 v 11. The fields, goals, and game lengths are sized according to the format for the grade.
We Tried Out, What’s Next ?
After the conclusion of the week of tryouts, the DOC will compile the evaluations and the process of forming teams will begin. This takes approximately one week after which each player will receive his or her placement for the 2021-2022 school year (fall and spring seasons). After receiving the notification, the player will have one week to register for the team on which they are placed. This short window is necessary so that the teams can be finalized and if necessary, players can transfer up to the higher team in their age/grade to fill unused roster places. All placements for the top-division team are final for the entire school year. A player will not be moved ‘down’ to a lower division team during the year. However, players from lower division or Rec may be offered to transfer ‘up’ if recommended by the DOC and approved by the Travel Director.
What About New Kids in the Fall?
Because of the universities and colleges, the town population turns over in the Fall. New families arrive and bring their soccer-player children with them. Players new in town are able to tryout before the fall season and possibly be placed on a team if their evaluation warrants it.
I Do Not Live In Amherst
Our Travel program is available to all kids that attend school in any of the public APRS schools, and any charter or private school in Amherst. Also, children who live in Amherst or any of the APRS towns regardless of where they attend school, and any child who lives in a town that does not field their own travel teams in the same Roots League are welcome to join. Plus, in some circumstances children who live and attend school in a different town that fields a team in the Roots League can request to play on the Amherst team with a valid reason (ex: a sibling attends school in Amherst and plays on an Amherst team). A waiver will be requested from the town in which the child lives and must be approved by the soccer club in that town.
My Best Friend Has Been On A Team For A Year And Now I Want To Join Him/Her!
Unfortunately, friend requests (and coach requests) are not used for the evaluation and placement or players. It is based on the individual player’s aptitude only.
What Is The Schedule In The Fall
The precise schedule has not yet been set by Roots Soccer League. It generally tracks with the beginning of the school year and goes for 10 weeks (there is no soccer on Labor Day weekend). Teams begin pre-season practices 2 weeks prior to the first game.
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