High school soccer is played at different times throughout the United States. In some states it’s played in the fall alongside (pigskin) football, in some it’s a spring sport, and in Florida it’s a mid-winter diversion.
Choosing to continue to play select soccer at U-15, which typically coincides with the freshman year, is a big decision. Let’s look at some of the issues that may come into play.
PROS: Playing Select Soccer (U-15 through U-18)
- Maintain strength and conditioning required to play high school soccer.
- Game is faster and more physical as players reach adult sizes.
- Will be more likely to make (and start) on high school team.
- Consistent physical outlet for academic and social stress.
- Healthy, constructive way to occupy free time.
- Deepening friendships and bonding with teammates.
- Friendly rivalry with teammates from other high schools.
- Looks good on applications (National Honor Society, colleges, jobs).
- More travel – sometimes without parents!
- Tournaments are attended by college recruiters/coaches.
CONS: Playing Select Soccer (U-15 through U-18)
- Depending on area of country, may overlap high school soccer.
- Money–or lack of–since schedules limit job opportunities.
- Increased study and homework demands may be hard to juggle.
- Very difficult to run cross-country or track in high school off-season.
- Not practical to be in school band, orchestra, chorus or drama.
- Growing social life in high school dampened by soccer weekend schedules.
- Focus on being seen by colleges increases pressure to win.
- If not interested in pursuing college soccer, may have different goals than teammates.
- Travel to big-name tournaments to be seen is expensive.
CONCLUSION: When a player chooses to continue select soccer as a high school student, especially at a high level, s/he has basically staked a claim to their primary activity (and identity!) for four years. It’s important for a student to understand what tradeoffs there may be in choosing soccer as their “thing”.
It’s also good (though not easy) for a player to evaluate where they are soccer-wise, to be sure they can be happy there.
- If the team is at a lower Classic level, and the player is a star and has ideas of playing collegiately, a change in clubs may be called for.
- If the team is high-ranked and most players wish to play in college, and your player does not want to, you need to consider whether you want to spend the time and money to be “shopped” around the country.