Youth Soccer Teams a Microcosm of Big League Sports World

Article excerpt

Byline: John Lemon

Keeping up with the youth soccer world isn't as simple as it appears.

You think the world of professional sports is turbulent? Franchises moving, changing cities. Players leaving as free agents without any loyalty to any team.

But it's nothing to our local soccer programs. Look how often entire teams have changed lately.

One season you read about the Team Chicago Warriors. The next season you see many of the same kids' names, only they play for someone called the America's Soccer Club.

Or there's the Naperville Vipers. Last year, most of the players were on Naperville Soccer Association or Team Chicago teams.

Those are just two of the new 1999 additions to the sometimes quick-changing world of youth soccer. While some players find a program they like and stick with it from the time they are 5 to 18, others move around.

And often, entire new teams start up from dissatisfaction with an old one. Just look at the Vipers and America's Soccer Club.

"We kind of wanted to go a different direction," said Vipers representative Nancy Sigel, whose daughter plays on the team.

"They had different reasons. Some of it was unhappiness. Some were really burned out by intensity and politics."

On any given weekend, you can watch a number of different Naperville Galaxy teams play. Two years ago, though, there wasn't a single Galaxy team.

Like America's Soccer Club and Vipers, Galaxy formed when players wanted a change from their current club.

The reasons players switch teams, or entire teams break from an existing program, vary.

Some are looking for more playing time. Others have conflicts with coaches or playing styles. Many of the more talented players leave to find a more successful program. Sometimes it comes down to economics.

Actually, it all begins to sound a lot like professional athletics.

"Soccer is getting to be a business," said Glen Stokes, a representative with the America's Soccer Club under-14 team.

"There's a difference in philosophies with the people running the club. The business aspect gets involved too much. When that happens, there's a conflict. …