NOTE: In celebration of our 40th anniversary, WAGS continues its Member Club Profile Series with Springfield South County Youth Club, a longtime WAGS member club and a member of the WAGS POD program.
At present, 10 clubs are participating in the POD program, a “club-centric,” non-results-oriented initiative which stages U-9, U-10 and U-11 age group matches at the same venues on a club-by-club basis to foster an improved coaching and player development environment. Using a club pass system, players are able to move up and down in levels to maximize their growth and progression and develop their skills in the optimal manner.
More club profiles will follow in the months ahead, along with a range of other commemorative events planned throughout the year.
FAST FACTS ABOUT SYC
Approximate number of players: 550 (Travel soccer program)
Location: Fairfax County, Va.
Mission Statement: "Teach soccer skills, teamwork, and sportsmanship in a positive environment while contributing to the enjoyment, general health, and social needs of the participating boys and girls in the Greater Springfield and South County areas."
Chris Spera- President
Gene Thomas- Travel Commissioner
Bianca Berrios- WAGS Rep
Much has changed at Springfield South County Youth Club in its 52-year history. In fact at its inception, it had a different name and there was no soccer program to speak of.
The club was founded in 1962 as the Springfield Boys Club and was under the umbrella of the Boys & Girls Club of America. At the time, the only sports programs offered were football and cheerleading.
The soccer program began in the mid-1970s and has since grown to include more than 2,500 participants split between recreational and travel teams.
The club's growth also prompted leaders to change its name to Springfield South County Youth Club. This change, which occurred in 2007, was intended to duly reflect all of the demographic areas that now encompass the program as it has grown.
Even now, SYC is still growing. The club consistently hosts teams for age groups from four to 18 years old, but a new age group will take part this spring: A peewees initiative which will allow three-year-olds to participate in a “mini-soccer program.”
As well as the inclusion of soccer, the club boasts several other athletic programs, including lacrosse, baseball, softball and volleyball.
Throughout all of the different programs, there are about 10,000 registrations, some of them playing multiple sports.
“The kids do multiple sports in a membership year,” said SYC administrator Carolyn Brennan. “In the same season we advise the family what the typical schedule is for each sport and we let them decide. Obviously with some sports it’s very workable.”
Many of the club’s participants come from Fairfax County, Va., but every now and then players from outside the county or state will participate. Brennan, who has seen two daughters develop as players in SYC, recalled sisters from Maryland playing on her daughter's team. Although there aren't a large number of out-of-county or out-of-state players, they are almost exclusively involved in the travel soccer program.
“Springfield is our biggest zip code. Fairfax Station is our second biggest zip code. Lorton is our third biggest and then we have Alexandria, which is still in Fairfax County but it has an Alexandrian zip code,” explained Brennan.
For SYC, membership in WAGS is pivotal.
Said Brennan: “WAGS was always the top women’s league, and it’s an honor to be in WAGS as a team and player.”
As a member since the program's inception, the WAGS POD program has also impacted SYC greatly.
"I speak for all past and present U-9 to U-11 coaching staffs, parents and players, that this program is a super initiative for many reasons," said SYC travel commissioner Gene Thomas.
"It reduces travel for these families, allows for ease in guest playing with sister teams at the same location, academy directors/coaches/trainers get to see all players within these age groups for player assessment/promotion, and allows the club more efficient and consistent use of highly competitive and limited field space on Sundays with Fairfax County."
Thomas also hopes that more clubs decide to join the POD program in the future, noting that with more clubs involved, there would be a wider range of diversity in opponents.
Surrounded by competitors in a crowded Northern Virginia youth soccer market, SYC nonetheless does its part to stand out from the crowd and provide a positive experience for players of many ages.
Founded in 1974 by Mavis Derflinger and Rael Vodicka, the Washington Area Girls Soccer League is one of the premier girls' soccer associations in the United States. Today's membership includes some 600 teams from across D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, competing in a variety of divisions ranging from Under-9 to Under-19 age levels. The WAGS Spring 2014 season kicks off on March 29 and will feature upwards of 600 teams from across the Mid-Atlantic region from the U-9 to U-18 levels.