Okemos Soccer Club: FAQ

Saturday, March 6
WHAT IS THE OKEMOS SOCCER CLUB (OSC)? We represent the Okemos community in the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL). CASL coordinates competitive soccer in the Greater Lansing Area. Teams that play in CASL are required to be community-based. The youth that play on Okemos teams must go to schools in the Okemos District. Okemos teams compete against other teams from the area that includes East Lansing, DeWitt, Williamston and Charlotte, just to name a few. We field teams for both boys and girls divisions at the ages of U10 through U19.

I'M NEW TO SOCCER AND CONFUSED ABOUT ALL THE TEAMS. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TEAMS IN THE AREA AND WHY DO I HEAR ABOUT RECREATIONAL SOCCER;TRAVEL/SELECT/PRE-PREMIER TEAMS and CASL ELITE; PREMIER TEAMS; OLYMPIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (ODP) TEAMS; AND SOCCER ZONE AND THE SUMMIT? Yes, it is easy to become confused!!! The reason is very simple. A desire to create different levels of soccer for families that have different needs. Some teams travel more, others less. Some are competitive, while others recreational. You have the option to select the program that is right for your child and your family. A quick overview of programs is given below. Recreational soccer The foundation of soccer in the nation because it covers the greatest number of players and teams. Without recreational soccer, the game would not exist as we know it today. A registration process to compose teams, rather than a tryout, characterizes recreational soccer. This provides the opportunity for everyone to play and to distribute talent evenly among the teams. The Eastside Soccer Club, Okemos Athletics Klub (OAKS) and Meridian Township combine and continue to offer great soccer programs in a large number of age divisions. Please see the OAKS/Eastside link to get information about the programs offered through Meridian Parks and Recreation. Select/Travel/USSF/Pre-Premier The next division of soccer in the area. This is the first level of soccer offered by CASL. All four names are talking about the same level of play. This is the first step up the soccer pyramid. Teams are formed with tryouts rather than placement on teams. Coaches must have licenses from either United States Soccer Federation (USSF) or the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) to coach in CASL. They must also carry risk management cards that document backkground checks of individuals working with youth playing in this division. Players must be registered with the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association (MSYSA) and must have player cards. These cards have a photo ID of the players and are checked by game officials before each match. Teams in the division play other competitive teams. In CASL, select teams from Okemos will play other select teams from the Greater Lansing Area (e.g., DeWitt, East Lansing, Mason, etc.). CASL Elite Division CASL and 2 soccer leagues from the west side of state have cooporated to develop an Elite League. The teams that win the CASL travel league are invited to compete against top teams from the other leagues in a special travel division. The community teams in CASL can remain as a community teams and play together. This league is invitational and you must do well in CASl to be invited. CASl will extend the invitation after final CASL division standings for fall and spring. Games are played in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and as far away as Traverse City. Premier This is another step up the soccer pyramid. Teams begin at U13 (as of 9/04) and continue through U19. In CASL, the premier program is operated under the name Capital Area United Premier Soccer or simply CA United. CA United teams hold annual tryouts and players from all the select teams in CASL come together to form teams of players looking for still a higher level of soccer. These teams play in Michigan State Premier Soccer League. They will travel throughout the state and compete against other premier teams. Teams in the Premier division include all of Michigan. This includes many from the Detroit area, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and others. Olympic Development Program (ODP) Each year players from across the state of Michigan are invited to an open tryout for a single team in each age division that represents the state on Michigan in regional play against other state teams. US National Team The top of the soccer pyramid. Indoor Soccer Soccer Zone and The Summit Recreational indoor soccer leagues offer great programs for youth in the area. Many of our OSC teams will play in leagues that are organized by these programs. These are not CASL functions and the cost for these functions is not included in the CASL seasons. Some coaches like their teams to play winter soccer while others like the players to only play outdoor soccer. Please ask your coach about plans for off-season play during tryouts.
OK, NOW I KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LOCAL PICTURE? You will hear about several clubs in the area. These include CASL, CA United, TNT, Michigan Chill, AND Phoenix Soccer Group(PSG). The Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) is the original community based league in the greater Lansing area. It is made up of community clubs like the Okemos Soccer Club. The Premier arm of CASL is the CA United Club. MSYSA begins premier play in the Michigan State Premier Soccer Program (MSPSP) at U13 when the age groups begin the play 11V11. CASL and CA United are not-for-profit, 501(C)3 organizations. The other clubs have good soccer people working with youth, but do have a profit component in their mission.
WHEN ARE TRYOUTS AND HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TEAM TO TRY OUT FOR? OSC must follow guidelines established by the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association (MSYSA) and CASL. This means that OSC holds tryouts each year for the formation of teams beginning June 15th. Youth from Okemos Schools must try out for Okemos teams. They will be evaluated on several criteria and a team will be formed from the pool of players at tryouts. This team will remain together until next June, when tryouts will again be held. Information on tryouts is posted in the local community newspaper, the Okemos Channel, pamphlets sent home through the Okemos schools or you can check this web page.

HOW MANY TEAMS ARE IN AN AGE GROUP AND HOW ARE TEAMS DETERMINED AFTER TRYOUTS? OSC may sponsor multiple teams in age groups. In the case of age groups that play 6v6 and 8v8, it is very likely that we will have multiple teams if we can find coaches. As the game transitions to 11v11 at U13 the likelihood of multiple teams is greatly reduced. OSC recently changed its policy on the selection of teams. In past years, player selection for multiple teams at a given age was based on the equally competitive teams. In other words, if OSC were forming 2 teams of U9 boys, we would rank the players’ skills at tryouts and would place an equal amount to very skillful players and an equal amount of less skillful players on each team. Since the change to small sided games with 6v6 and 8v8 soccer, the number of CASL teams has increased greatly. CASL has started to flight teams within each division. CASL takes the most successful teams in an age division and allows them to play among themselves and the less successful teams are placed in a division where they will play. OSC thinks this is good for the youth that play and for the game. The first thing this accomplishes is to allow more opportunities for success. If the younger divisions of soccer had 20 teams in a single division with the top teams winning games with scores of 10-0 and the less skillful teams losing games 0-10 , OSC does not see a great deal of enjoyment for either side. The kids that are winning will soon become bored with soccer and the teams that are losing game may decide to stop playing. Both cases are bad for the kids and the game. Many other reasons make this a sound decision. One of the most important is the opportunity for each child in OSC to become a better player. The best way to improve a child’s skills is to get more touches on the ball and being active in games. With the flighting of teams, kids that are less skillful at a give age will have the opportunity to be more active in a game and practice. How many times have you been to a game where a dominant player on one team controlled the game? They get the most touches, score that most goals and are in possession of the ball over ½ the time! The player that is less skillful at this time in their development gets very few touches on the ball. They have difficulty improving their game if they are not touching the ball and get less playing time. With the flighting of teams, the more skill players at an age group play together, they now must learn to distribute the ball and play without the ball. They can no longer dominant the game. At the same time, the less skilful players now are more active, get more touches and truly have a chance to become better soccer players. With added touches and more activity, the lesser skilled player at U9 has the opportunity to learn skills and improve as a player. As that lesser skilled U9 player develops mentally and physical, they just may become the U13 player or high school player that is the top player in the area. If we had stayed with equal teams, the youth that was not as skilled would continue to get less playing time, fewer touches on the ball and less success. OSC thinks a team of more skillful players “A” and a team of less skillful players “B” is good for both types of players and is good for the game.

WHAT DOES IT COST FOR MY CHILD TO PLAY ON AN OSC/CASL SELECT TEAM? The costs vary somewhat by team and helps pay for fields, referees and administrative costs of CASL such as scheduling, etc.. Some teams will want to attend a few tournaments or they will elect to get bags and warm-ups. A good idea of the base cost for OSC teams is $250-350. This includes basic uniform (not the extra apparel such as warm-ups or bags), league play, and a couple of tournaments a year.

I DON'T THINK I CAN AFFORD THE COST ASSOCIATED WITH CASL. ARE THERE SCHOLARSHIPS? Yes, CASL does offer a scholarship program where families can request assistance with financial needs. If you are interested in this program, please go to the CASL webpage and contact a board member.

HOW MUCH OF THE YEARLY FEES GO TO THE COACH? All the coaches in the OSC are volunteer. They do not receive any money for their efforts, unless it’s for team supplies. They work many hours at practice and give up many weekends with their families for one reason. They love teaching kids the game of soccer.

WHEN ARE THE GAMES AND WHAT IS A SOCCER SEASON? Select teams in CASL play a fall and spring season. Tryouts are mid-June and the first league games are around the first of September. Most teams in CASL play a single game on either Saturday or Sunday until around the first week in November. Spring season begins in mid April and ends around the second week of June just in time for tryouts for the next year’s team. Many teams will play at Soccer Zone or The Summit during the off-season. This is up to the individual team. Indoor games are not part of CASL. In addition, most teams in the Okemos Soccer Club try and attend at least one tournament during the fall and spring season. It is a great way to reward the teams for great work and to build team chemistry among the players and the parents in the Okemos community. Tournaments where you will see OSC teams general are the Capital Area Classic (Fall), Petoskey Invitational (Spring) and the Flint Publishers Cup (Spring).

I DON'T KNOW IF I LIKE THE IDEA OF “COMPETITIVE” SOCCER. DOES THIS MEAN THE FOCUS IS ON WINNING AT ALL COST? Great question and one you should be asking! The goal of any youth soccer team should be to have fun playing soccer and to enjoy this wonderful game. This is well understood among youth coaches in the OSC. The reason for the required coaching license, is to help coaches find ways to teach improved technique and tactics with methods that focus on the youth having fun and learning the game. The OSC does not measure coaches with the number of wins. A much better measure of success is the development of the players' skill and if the kids want to play for the same team again next year.

HOW MANY PLAYERS ARE ON A TEAM? The number of players on a teams varies depending on the age of players. The older teams (U13-U19) can have a maximum of 18 players, U11 and U12 are allowed 14 players, and U9 - U10 teams currently have a maximum roster size of 11. While 11 v 11 players on the field will continue at the older age groups, younger age groups have reduced the number of players on the field to increase development of players and the joy in playing the game. It was the desire of the USSF to allow more players to play an active role in the game. Players should be touching ball during the game, rather than standing. At the younger ages, you will find 8 v 8 down to 3 v 3 games. For more in formation on the USSF guidelines please go to US Soccer (http://www.usyouthsoccer.org).

ARE THE TEAMS FORMED BY AGE OR GRADE AND WHAT ARE THE CUT-OFF DATES? While recreational soccer teams are generally formed by grade, competitive soccer is age based. The cut-off date is July 31 for the calendar year. For example, in the 2002-2003 age matrix, U10 teams would have birth dates between Aug 1, 1992 - July 31, 1993. You may want to check with an OSC coach or go to MSYSA web (http://www.msysa.net/agegroups.html) for more information.

CAN MY CHILD PLAY ON AN OLDER TEAM? The OSC generally discourages this. Remember the most important part of soccer is having fun. The kids really want to play the greatest game in the world with their friends from school. This is also the same group of Okemos kids that will play together in high school. However, If you think it is best, your child is allowed to play up one division. A player that is age appropriate for a U13 team may play on a U14 team. Players are not allowed to play up 2 divisions and never allowed to play down.

CAN MY CHILD PLAY ON 2 TEAMS AT THE SAME TIME AND WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT DUAL ROSTERED PLAYERS? No, you can only get a player card from MSYSA for a single team. You can play on 2 teams if you are dual rostered. MSYSA and US Club Soccer do have provisions for dual status. CASL and OSC also have rules and guidlines established for duals. If you are interested in more information you should ask your coach or contact either an OSC or CASL board member.

I AM A BUSY PARENT AND DO NOT HAVE TIME TO TRANSPORT MY CHILD TO PRACTICE 5 DAYS A WEEK AND TO GAMES OVER THE WEEKEND, HOW MUCH TIME IS INVOLVED? We encourage our coaches to practice 2 times per week with 90 minutes per session. Since the teams are community based, many times carpools are very easy to form since all the players are from Okemos. More than likely, your neighbor down the street has a son or daughter who is also playing for an OSC team.

WHAT IF MY CHILD DOES NOT MAKE THE TEAM? Unfortunately, soccer is limited to a specific number of players on a team. If your child does not make an OSC team, it is not the end of soccer for your child. We hope that your child would continue to play recreational soccer for another year and try out again for an OSC team. Please talk to the coach and ask about your child’s strengths and weaknesses as a player. This will allow the player to work during the season to improve his/her chance to make an OSC team. Perhaps one of the many soccer camps would help your child improve. Maybe indoor soccer would improve the skills of the player.

HOW ARE THE OSC COACHES SELECTED AND WHEN DO THEY CHANGE? The OSC selects new coaches from a list of candidates that petition to become coaches. Many times, they are parents that have coached in the recreational leagues and are ready to move to competitive soccer. They may have had an older child that played for an OSC team. Potential coaches are asked to present a coaching resume and are required to obtain at least a USSF “E” license during the first year of coaching. They must also get a risk management card from MSYSA. Coaches in the club generally stay with the same team. As your child moves from U10, U11, U12… the coach moves also. This adds a great deal of continuity to the team as the players move towards play in high school. If you are interested in youth, soccer, the Okemos community and giving back to the game, please submit and application to coach in the OSC. Applications can be found in the Handouts Section of this web.