SYA is widely regarded as one of the top clubs in the region and is a member of the VCCL, WAGS, NCSL, and ODSL, as well as the ASL. The club has produced many State Cup champions and still more finalists and semi-finalists. In 2012-13, the U12 girls became state champions, while the U12 and U17 boys were both semi-finalists. Our coaches have coached all ages and abilities, from the youngest players to college and national teams. Many have played at the game’s highest levels as well, including on national teams and porfessional teams. They bring a wealth of experience and a variety of perspectives. SYA has a strong club environment with emphasis on teams training together, scrimmaging one another, and club passing players to offer them varied experiences in order to help them develop into the strongest soccer players they can be. Coaches work closely with each other and share a common vision with regard to player development and the club’s future opportunities.
SYA offers unique programs, such as our Travel Academy for teams from U9-U12. The Academy program began on a limited basis in the late 1990s but began in earnest about five years ago and has expanded and improved annually ever since. Through Academy, all of our youngest players are afforded the chance to work with not only our top coaches but other top trainers as well. These sessions include speed and agility training and professional goalie training (also available for older goalkeepers). U8 players have a separate academy to help challenge top young players. In 2012 SYA joined the Atlantic Soccer League to expose our older teams to teams from the entire east coast (from Georgia to New York) and to college coaches through guaranteed admission to tournaments such as the Jefferson Cup and the Disney Showcase.
Our club-owned, 100-acre field complex, the SYA Sports Park, currently features two irrigated Bermuda fields with a third coming online for Fall 2013, and plans are in the works to install turf fields within the next two years. SYA also has access to a number of other lighted turf fields, including two brand new ones at Centreville High School, two new ones for the fall at E.C. Lawrence Park, and assorted others including Braddock Park and Poplar Tree. Having quality training surfaces is critical to mastering technique and providing year-round training opportunities, so SYA puts heavy emphasis on fields.
SYA teams compete in five different leagues. The three local leagues are WAGS, NCSL, and ODSL. Our top teams are competing in the VCCL (becoming the CCL for 2013-14), which is comprised of the top clubs in Virginia as well as some from Maryland and Washington, DC. Finally, the top teams from U14-U18 also compete in the ASL (Atlantic Soccer League) through SYA. The ASL is played largely through a series of tournaments with three games the clubs self- schedule to reach a total of twelve games.
(V)CCL offers our teams both the opportunity to develop players and to compete against top quality competition weekly. No relegation means that coaches can focus on the growth of the members of the team. Kids develop best in settings where they are challenged and at the same time, able to find success. It is notable that, contrary to the concern many people initially expressed, the top teams are not always the same team from season to season, and nor are the bottom teams. Patience and good, solid training are critical components in player development. Because of the league’s unique structure, coaches can be patient with players who progress at different speeds. SYA’s coaching staff is firmly committed to providing strong technical foundations from the youngest ages and building the tactical components along the way. Club passing is available in all ages and affords players the opportunities to play up for additional challenges and allows teams to borrow players when rosters are thin on a given weekend. In addition, the league’s club-centric focus allows technical staff and coaches from different teams to watch a number of teams play over the course of a day. On a given day, the entire group of SYA teams may travel to PWSI to play, or may host Loudoun on our home fields. This simplifies things for families as well, as they can go to one site for the day and see several of their children’s games.
SYA is one of only five clubs in Virginia to offer ASL; the others are Roanoke Star, SOCA (Charlottesville), Beach FC, and Chesterfield United. This year, ASL teams will participate in the Jefferson Cup, the Disney Soccer Showcase, the Triangle Friendlies, and an assortment of other events including the VCCL showcase, the Bethesda Thanksgiving tournament, and the SAC Memorial Day tournament. Teams may select the events they prefer and are guaranteed entrance. We believe ASL is an ideal opportunity for elite teams wanting to showcase players interested in playing college soccer. These venues attract coaches from the entire region and provide meaningful games in exciting showcase settings at some of the most highly regarded events in the country. Our teams thoroughly enjoyed their experience in 2012-13, our first year in the league.
The critical measure of a club is found not only in the qualifications of its coaches nor the quality of its programs but in the success of its players. SYA players move on to play college soccer every year. Many members of SYA teams participate in district, state, and regional ODP programs. Several have also earned call-ups to National Team camps for their age groups. We are very, very proud of our players and celebrate these successes. However, as a youth club our focus is not exclusively on the most elite players; we want to see every player who comes through our program stay until they finish high school. Whether a player dreams of making the national team, of playing on their high school varsity team, or of finding success in their weekly league game, we provide encouragement and the training to help make as many of those dreams come true as possible.