Popularity of club soccer among girls still climbing but not without a price



Their bodies rebelled when they reached high school. As a freshman at Judge Memorial, Tess began to experience back pain while playing club games on back to back days and by the second day she couldn’t play. An MRI revealed Pars Fractures in the L4 and L5 vertebra. The injuries sidelined her for several months and continued to bother her enough that she was forced to miss part of her sophomore school season and the winter and spring club seasons. Still struggling with back problems in the fall of her junior year of high school, Tess tore the ACL and meniscus in her left knee, sidelining her for another nine months. women’s team. Of the more than 41,000 kids who play club soccer under the auspices of the Utah Youth Soccer Association, half are girls. UYSA has enjoyed phenomenal growth. The organization started in Utah in 1978 with about 2,000 kids and enjoyed steady growth. hosted the World Cup, boys and girls membership soared from 20,000 to 30,000 almost overnight. In the last five years, with the continued emergence of and the increased TV exposure of the sport, it has experienced another growth spike, adding 6,000 kids. Many of the elite teams were in action last month as clubs competed for state championships in the annual State Cup in Orem. It’s not enough to play soccer in its season; girls are pressured to play the sport year round. This has not only produced more injuries, it has also meant a burdensome cost to families, time away from school and home, the loss of family time and vacations, and a specialization that frequently precludes playing other sports and having a broader experience during a child’s formative years.

It’s not cheap, either. By the time parents pay club dues, travel and hotel bills, tournament and camp fees and more, it costs thousands every year. Ben Ohai, whose daughters Megan and Kealia went on to star at USC and North Carolina, respectively, estimates it cost him at least $6,000 a year per girl out of his school teacher’s salary. Hailee DeYoung jersey cheap, who earned a soccer scholarship to the University of Portland, says her parents paid $10,000 a year. Another parent, whose daughter is being recruited and requests anonymity, says he pays $10,000 annually. Matt Lyons, another club soccer parent whose daughter Madie recently committed to play for BYU, puts the cost at $15,000.

The motivation to play soccer year round often is a scholarship, and the club game is considered the vehicle to get one. High school teams consist largely of whatever students happen to live in school boundaries. Club teams are composed of kids from everywhere some have been known to drive from Logan to Salt Lake several times a week to play on a particular team so they are essentially all star teams. That’s why the club game is considered superior to the high school game by aficionados, although the school sport gets the media attention. Because the talent is concentrated on club teams and all top players play club, college coaches tend to focus on club soccer when it comes to recruiting. They’re able to see many of the best players simply by attending a handful of tournaments. That’s why aspiring players believe they must play the club game, and that means a year round commitment of time and money.

DeYoung jersey cheap agrees. “College coaches don’t care about high school,” she Chinese Wholesale Jerseys
says. “There are lots of girls from other states who don’t even play high school soccer, which is a shame. It’s club and ODP (Olympic Development Program). Coaches were always trying to get us not to play high school. They told us we’d have more time to get scholarships. They think if you continue to play club you can get into more tournaments for more college coaches to see you, and they tell you you’ll get so much better if you play club and not high school.”

The problem with the scholarship carrot is that few players are offered such a reward. According to a report in the Deseret News, in 2011 only 86 soccer scholarships were awarded in the entire state; in 2010, it was 82. And some of those were awarded to boys, though not many (because of Title IX, non football athletic scholarships tend to go to girls). Even if the newspaper missed a few scholarships, the number certainly is revealing. To make matters worse, the vast majority of those scholarships are partial, meaning parents still have school costs.

Sokolove wrote, “Even football players, according to NCAA statistics, do not rupture their ACLs during their fall seasons at the rates of women in soccer, basketball and gymnastics. If girls and women ruptured their ACLs at just twice the rate of boys and men, it would be notable. Three times the rate would be astounding. Air Force and a professor at the School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md. In 2001 02 Beutler served as a physician for the women’s soccer team at the Naval Academy. In his first year with the team, seven players were lost for the season with ACL injuries. “I thought to myself, What in the heck is going on here?” Beutler told Sokolove in 2008. He reported that when the women’s team suffered three torn ACLs in a subsequent season, “They thought that was great, a fortunate year. Think about that. Just three. It’s bizarre.”

There is also fear of serious injury to another part of the body on the soccer field: The brain. Studies indicate that girls soccer ranks second only to football for concussions among Young jersey cheap athletes. That’s partly because girls’ smaller, weaker bodies make them more vulnerable to concussions and partly because soccer players often lead with their heads to strike (or “head”) the ball out of the air with the top of their foreheads, which leads to head first collisions with other players. Research also suggests that the act of heading the ball itself causes brain injury, and one can only imagine the cumulative effect of this after playing the game for years. Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the nation’s leading experts on sports concussions, believes heading the ball should be banned.

By the time she finished her soccer career, DeYoung jersey cheap had had four surgeries on her nose (the result of collisions), a sprained right shoulder, a sprained ankle that required a year of healing before she could kick a ball without pain, eight hip flexor injuries, a groin injury that persisted for a year and required cortisone injections, a back injury, and a subluxated left shoulder. This was the result of playing a spring/summer club season (10 games, plus 5 7 games for the State Cup, plus another 5 7 games in the regional tournament), then the high school season (as many as 26 games), the late fall club tournaments (3 4 tournaments that consist of 3 5 games each), followed by ODP play (3 5 games) and region camp in the summer (one week, including 5 9 games, plus evening practices, followed by another five days of training and another 4 5 games). If she had played on the national team, there would’ve been another couple of weeks of training camps and “live in” camps.

Cuppett, a veteran club soccer coach and administrator, is a voice of reason in the club soccer ranks. He acknowledges the excesses, but says the sport is improving. For one thing, there is oversight now, with a tracking system to detect players who train or play too much. There also is a push to implement a training program that utilizes a series of exercises that can help prevent the knee injuries that plague the sport. Cuppett believes club soccer is making progress in addressing the other excesses, whether it’s the players’ time commitment or coaches who overwork their players simply because they must win to keep their jobs.

“Some clubs see that,” he says. “But some (coaches) do what is best for the player. They emphasize rest, school, taking time off. I see that more and more. People are figuring it out. The national average for burnout is 75 percent either kids quitting or they don’t want to play anymore and just want to be a kid. It’s been studied. Kids are tired of playing. I get players coming to me saying, ‘Bruce, I just want a weekend off. I just want to be a kid.’ More and more we realize that we don’t need to train more than an hour and a half at a time. People are waking up and saying these girls have to have a life beyond soccer. I tell my parents to find something they like to do. Make soccer a seasonal sport. The choice comes when they get older.”

“It just seems like the coaches have so much control over the kids, and the parents allow it to happen for fear their kid will suffer some repercussions. Whole families are controlled by a soccer coach. I see this pattern of parental fear of coaches. It isn’t limited to soccer, but it seems more prevalent. Parents no longer seem willing to be their child’s advocate at the risk of offending a coach who they are actually paying money to so their kid can play. The whole youth sports movement is not good for the health and well being of the kids and their families with the direction it is going.”

“I don’t know if my parents would agree, but it was worth it (to play club),” says Cloee Colohan, a former club player who plays for BYU. “There were sacrifices. I was always doing homework on the road. Friends would ask if I could do something and I would have to say, ‘Sorry, I have soccer.’ We traveled a lot. I was home for three weeks and then off to another tournament. I played other sports till eighth grade, and then I just couldn’t do it or make it work. I wish I could’ve done more. I had to focus on something. It was a lot of time to put into one thing in your life. But I would never take any of it back.”

Apparently, most decide it is. As Matt Lyons says, after expressing his frustrations with the sport, “I do it because my kid loves it. . Soccer has been more than just an expensive game. For my daughter and family it has been an unbelievable network of friendships. These kids hang together through thick and thin. Soccer just happens to be what they love to do, their activity of choice. Soccer players do have to make sacrifices based on their commitment. I would bet the majority of these kids play soccer because it is what they love to do with their time, scholarship or not.”.

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