End of an Era- Age Level Changes in Youth Soccer

Age Level Changes

I love this picture that my hubby took after the BSG’s team lost in the final 8 of National Cup last weekend.  Through the tears it was evident that the girls really weren’t sad about losing, but in the fact that it meant they wouldn’t be together anymore.  I saw similar tear stained faces throughout National Cup as teams who had obviously played together for years faced the fact that the age level changes meant they wouldn’t be together going forward. (If you don’t know about the age level changes you can read about them here in my post- US Soccer Coaching Initiatives- Age Changes)

I’m sure that the changes were done for good soccer reasons, but I don’t think that anyone really thought about the enormous emotional impact they would have on teams that were bonded over many, many years- especially the older girls’ teams.  Aside from all the college scholarship talk, there are many girls who continue to play simply for that feeling of belonging to a team and the love of the game.  It’s the ultimate illustration of  “squad” for some girls and can be an integral part of their identity.

As always, it’s been a pretty crazy few months with figuring out new teams (and club for LSG!) and we are excited for the year to come, but it’s been bittersweet to move on from teams, girls and families that we’ve grown to love.  It’s a whole new ball game out there…anything can happen, and probably will!

Did your kids’  teams break up or choose to stay together (and have some play up) for another year?  What experiences have you had??  In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss…


11 thoughts on “End of an Era- Age Level Changes in Youth Soccer

  1. My son is facing the fact he may not get to play at all next year due to him being a 2002 8th grader next year and not having enough 2002 boys not in high school to form a team. We come from a very small town in southern Oregon and have one competitive team per one or two age groups. Our club won’t allow more than 3 kids to play up per team so his 03 peers can’t continue to play together and they won’t combine age groups. It is pretty sad our club won’t flex on playing up rule and as they said “it is overall easier to lose 9 2002 boys.” This is so sad because we literally have no other options.

    1. That’s so sad Lynn. What about other clubs you play during the season? Do they possibly have a team or would be willing to create a team? Our local team fell apart a few years ago so we were forced to go looking out of our area for a team. My dd now plays on a team that’s an hour drive away. Although I’m confused about why he can’t play with the high school players–with the old age group my daughter’s team had a handful of 9th graders when my daughter was still only in 8th. For the one year that they had kids at two different school levels the team took a hiatus during high school season and then got back together afterwards.

    2. Oh wow- that’s really difficult Lynn! That is so sad that your club won’t allow kids to play up so that they can field a team. I’m sorry!!! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. My dd’s current team is splitting up with the 2000s joining the older team and the 2001s from the U14 Premier team joining us. We still have one more tournament before officially breaking up. They’ve been practicing with their new teams, but haven’t had to really say goodbye to their old team yet. There’s definitely going to be some crying I think, especially for the girls have played together since U9. Congrats to your dd for making it to the quarterfinals! I’m really interested to see what the next season is going to look like.

    1. Thanks Shannon. I agree- should be very interesting to see what happens!! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  3. Our team that was newly formed last year had THE most amazing chemistry and could have gone on to develop into something really special, but had to disband due to the age group change. Change is good and everyone’s ok, but it’s hard not to think about what might have been. When the team ended their State Cup run, the crying was not at all over the loss, but because it was the end of the team – people must have thought someone died!
    Love your site, always fun to read:)

    1. Thanks Chris 🙂 That’s really sad about the girls’ team- it definitely must be hard to think about what might have been. Hope this year is great!

  4. My daughter is only a U10 but has been playing with several girls on her team since they were five years old (when they were five through seven they played on one of her club’s junior academy teams). Her current team is comprised of just over half 05’s and the rest are 06’s. The girls play their last tournament together next weekend. There will be tears!!

  5. We tried to move up a level last fall and we had the best team – great group of girls. 9 of them were 06 and 3 of them were 05. My daughter was an 05. We tried out a bunch of places in the last few months and just found out last week that we made a Signature team. SO relieved. She is not quite there yet for club. Her good friend/teammate/neighbor didn’t make Signature, so that was a huge bummer. It is so confusing. All of her school friends are 06 and now she is the youngest 05 on her new team. Ahh well. Onward and upward.

    1. Congrats to your daughter but such a bummer that her friend didn’t make the team. Hope she makes friends soon!! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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