SYA is widely regarded as one of the top clubs in the region and is a member of the CCL, WAGS, NCSL, and ODSL. The club has produced many State Cup champions and still more finalists and 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 professional 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 ten 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.
Our club-owned, 100-acre field complex, the SYA Sports Park, currently features three irrigated Bermuda fields and plans are in the works to begin to move deeper into the site where turf fields will be installed within the next year. SYA also has access to a number of other lighted turf fields, including two brand new ones at Centreville High School, two new ones 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 four different leagues. The three local leagues are WAGS, NCSL, and ODSL. Our top teams are competing in the CCL, which is comprised of the top clubs in Virginia as well as some from Maryland and Washington, DC. Coming for Fall 2015, our second teams at U11-U14 will compete in the new CCL2, which offers the same benefits as CCL to these players and their coaches and families. Going forward, CCL2 will continue to "age up" until it encompasses member clubs' second teams through U18.
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 Arlington 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. In 2015, CCL will begin a second division (CCL2) for clubs' second team, thus affording them the same benefits. The first year teams throuhg U14 wil be included, and each year another age group will be added until teams through U18 are all involved. CCL includes two college showcases for U15-U18 teams. All member clubs' teams converge in a single location for three days of league games twice annually. College coaches arrive in large numbers to watch perspective student- athletes compete. These showcases, at no cost to the teams, offer valuable opportunities for players to demonstrate their abilities to potential college coaches.
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.