Fast Facts About Herndon Youth Soccer
Approximate number of players: 2500 (travel/rec programs)
Location: Fairfax/Herndon County, Virginia
Mission Statement: The intent of Herndon Youth Soccer is to provide enrichment and enjoyment through cooperation, team spirit, friendly competition and skill development in soccer.
HYS Administrator: Jody Rametta
HYS Technical Director: Nick Arzani
HYS VP/Director of Travel : Mike Durrwachter
Notable Players: Carlos Vazquez (El Salvador Under 20 National Team), Romain Gall (US Under-20 National Team and FC Lorient, France), Marlon Escobar, Puerto San Jose (Guatemala)
Herndon Youth Soccer has been in front of the curve since its beginnings in 1978. In the Northern Virginia area, they were one of, if not the, first club to introduce organization for younger age groups as well as on the front foot of club administration.
Although HYS didn't initially offer programs for those under the age of eight years old, about 16 years ago the club added younger age groups. The program is the Micro-Kicks program, that now encompasses U-5, U-6 and U-7 year olds that previously would have been playing up age groups.
“We were one of the first I know of in the Northern Virginia area, about 16 years ago we started a program for the U-5,” said club administrator Jody Rametta.
Rametta was the club's first paid administrator, as Herndon was on the forefront of that model. Now, clubs across Northern Virginia have followed suit.
Herndon is nestled in Fairfax County and while most of the 2500 participants come from the area with Herndon, Reston and Chantilly providing the majority of players. However, players come from Loudoun County and the Sterling, Virginia area.
As well as players from that area wanting to join, Herndon has seen requests for full, existing teams to play under theHerndon Youth Soccer banner. Rametta noted that HYS received about 35 requests, but approved only three. Herndon doesn't want to take on too many outside clubs with a wealth of teams already in the program.
Rametta cited a strong contingency of synthetic-turf fields in the area, as well as modest fees and most interestingly, teams having near full autonomy.
“The team is owned by the parents of the team, not just the club. It’s a partnership,” she said. “We get involved if we need to.”
While HYS welcomes a competitive environment, winning isn't the main goal of the club. Making sure the players are enjoying the game and continue playing is the focal point.
“At the end of the day, the one thing you want more than anything else is for the kids to continue to play, that’s the most important thing. If they win that’s great, but you want them to continue to play,” Rametta said.
Playing in WAGS offers the club the competitive balance it seeks for all of its teams. With a large quantity of teams involved, HYS is able to find the right level rather than seeing too many uneven match-ups throughout the season.
“We’re really happy participating in WAGS," said Rametta. “WAGS, because of the sheer volume of teams that play in them, can give you the best chance for playing like competition. For us, in this club, we value that.”
It is also one of the main reasons Rametta felt WAGS has had sustained success as it marks its 40th season. HYS is also an original POD member, getting great benefit of the program as well.
"It’s very convenient for our coaches to be able to play together with their teams back-to-back in the same location,” she said.
The club also boasts one of the most accomplished and recognized technical directors in the area in Nick Arzani. He continually is asked to visit clubs around the world, recently traveling to China. Rametta noted that Arzani has worked with the staff at the LA Galaxy a number of times.
Not only does Arzani travel to bring his coaching acumen, he also helps bring top-notch coaches to Herndon summer camps, particularly coaches from his native Argentina.
Earlier in the year HYS had a special guest visit training sessions through the use of Arzani's contacts, as CONMEBOL (South America's regional federation) president Eugenio Figueredo Aguerre visited the Northern Virginia club.
"He came here to Herndon and spent a few days here with Nick and with our teams. It was really cool to have somebody like that so important on the world stage to come here," said Rametta.
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.