Recently I was told that the only thing we can count on in this world is change. Change will come along regardless of us wanting it, seeking it, or even liking it. It is in how we react and roll with the change that truly defines our interaction with the world. I was captivated by this statement and the knowledge that my reaction to change ripples beyond my line of sight into the world.
It is with this vision and knowledge of the lasting ripples of change that I am putting forth the information on our Little Eagles program playing U6 and below only. U7 and U8 players play at the U8 division in our program and in our league. This change was effective with fall 2017 registration and rostering.
This season URU is being asked "I want my kindergartner to play in Little Eagles, what do you mean they are in U8?" This is an emotional question with all the love and protectiveness of a parent being felt. Emotional questions are often the hardest ones to answer because emotion does not always allow for easy communication flow.
Spring season 2017 URU opened our Little Eagle program to run with the league teams as a local club had pulled all of their kinder teams from the league play. Without URU, the remaining clubs with U6 teams would have only had 2 teams to play over and over all season. URU opened our doors and invited the clubs into our fields; however unlike the rest of the league we had not properly rostered our players. Our U7 players were playing in the Little Eagles U6 division if they were still in kindergarten at school. When the program was kept in-house we were able to run it to fit us, but the moment we opened it to the league we became subject to local league, USSF requirements, US Soccer, among other soccer regulatory agencies in the USA.
Keeping the U7 players at Little Eagles in spring was done because our teams were already rostered when the other club pulled out of the DLSO season and the decision to play with the league was made very close to the season opening date for games. By keeping U7 players at the U6 division of Little Eagles it is not just that we are not complying with the standard of play required by USSF and the agreements made in forming the club, but, that we have kids up to a full year older than the kids playing at U6 and even up to three years older than a U5 player and that is no longer an acceptable rostering practice when the teams we are playing outside of our league do not have children older than the age guidelines.
Think of it like this, at U8 play, (combined U7 & U8) would you want to play a team with U9 players rostered? There is probably a really great reason that the coach put them on that team, but, without the league knowing in full disclosure and approved by all it’s not best practice by any means.
If I just put kids where parents wanted without any thought for the level of play of the remaining players who will encounter those “parent” rostered kids I’d have an 8 year old U8 player in U14 playing with 8th graders. All because parents want what they want and they really don’t think the rules need apply to their special circumstances. There is a reason that USSF aligned the USA with the rest of the world on division age brackets last year; because the rest of the world makes better soccer players. We need to be consistent in rostering to age brackets and allow for very limited exceptions to playing up or down.
One issue with the U6 program is that people think of it as “kinder soccer” and that has created a huge mess for parent expectations. There is no association with school grade intended, but, just the name alone suggests that kids in kinder grade at school should play kinder in sports. This is a problem. Kinder soccer is simply U6.
There has to be a deciding line somewhere with regard to age, and in the case of soccer it’s the birth year under the new required divisions for age. Beginning or end of the year does not matter when it’s the birth year determination; it’s inclusive of that entire year. I can guarantee that a U8 team will run into players in kinder-grade at school who are U7 players on the field this fall. They will be born in 2011 and will be having a blast with their U8 team even though they are in kindergarten at school.
The updates to the Little Eagle information were posted to our website in early July along with several other items of updated data, however due to a server issue by our provider we lost of hours of website updating and had to discover by trial and error what was no longer updated to fall season requirements. Little Eagle’s information updates were lost and reverted to spring play requirements which is unfortunate as it did cause some confusion and the loss of time spent volunteering.
This club is run entirely by volunteers so when information on the website, facebook, or other means does not update as quickly as a parent would like I ask that everyone slow down, and remember that this is all done by volunteer efforts. My husband is right when he tells me that I have a full time job volunteering. We are all striving to do our best.
One thing about me, I like rules. They set the tone for equality and societal balance. If URU does not follow many sets of requirements we simply should fold up shop right now as we would lose the support of the soccer regional community within a month. I’ve fought hard for our start-up club to be a leader in the soccer community and I will not throw away all that our club has gained by selfish rostering of players at any age. Rostering outside of the agreed upon guidelines by all club representatives, and the USSF, that is not been disclosed to the league, and agreed to by all club directors, is simply cheating. No matter the division. URU will not be classified as such.
Our coaches will often be grilled by parents “emotions” and often not the full view of a situation. At the youngest ages parents are often new to sports with little to no knowledge of the sports world and why things are the way they are. At U6 and U8 our primary goal is to teach the foundations to players and parents to prepare them for a life of desire to play sports. The older kids get, the more rules they will encounter, and many of the rules will offer no exceptions only fines and penalties for not following. If our URU athletes are not ready to comply with the required rules upon entering 9th grade in high school we will not have prepared athletes ready for high school ball and the OSAA is a harsh teacher.
Upon this seasons conversations around rostering players at the U6 division I will recommend to the league that Kinder Soccer be referred to as U6 soccer in the DLSO league.
I would ask that all to trust in URU, its directors and board members by supporting the club decisions and recognizing that there must be solid reasoning for the club stance. Encourage parents, coaches, or others who are upset to reopen the conversation with the volunteers of the club to be sure there was no miscommunication or expected communications to occur. Please know that no decision is made without the community of soccer fully taken into consideration. People are always encouraged to see why the club is doing what we are doing and if we need to fix something we certainly will as URU has plans to be around the valley for generations to come.
Club directors are required to look from a 30,000 foot view then focus the lens in on a case by case basis. Anyone not wanting their child to play U7 in URU would need to do the following:
Email Nita Lundberg with the reasoning an exception to play down should be granted - Nita@NoahsPumpkins.org
Be willing to have an open, unemotional dialogue
Be open to change; should your child be granted a exception for fall you will be asked to understand that in Spring they will be playing U7 ball with URU
Each case will be reviewed individually, there will not be a directive that will cover all cases. Fees: U7 (U8) does cost more. The season lasts two weeks longer, has a little larger field of play, 10 more minutes of game time and requires a fee be paid to the on field game referee.
Change. It allows opportunities for growth of character, new friends, new challenges and celebrating new successes. Change seems to bring fear for some and joy for others, yet it is in change where new things may begin if allowed to do so. I love this quote from Nathaniel Branden, The first step towards change is awareness. The second is acceptance.
My volunteer door is always open to our URU families, coaches, players and community members and I look forward to respectful, unemotional conversations with U7 parents at anytime.
Executive Director URUNITED