Senior Recreation Program Overview
What is Senior REC?
Beginning in the Fall 2017, the SPFSC Intercounty Program – established a new league with other neighboring towns such as Cranford, Westfield and Clark. The new league – Suburban Youth Soccer League, or SYSL – replaced our club’s participation in the Intercounty Youth Soccer League. With SYSL, SPFSC was a founding member along with other like-minded clubs that have allowed us to grow the league from our initial six clubs to twelve clubs this past spring. It has also allowed us to experiment with new eligibility rules, flighting structures, and other benefits that have enhanced the quality of the soccer experience for all of our players.
How is competition organized?
Senior Recreation currently manages competition based on birth year, using a calendar year cutoff (i.e., January 1st). Age groups include small-sided competition (8v8) at the U9 and U11 levels and full-sided competition in the U13, U15, and High School divisions. Waivers or exceptions are managed by the league office providing flexibility but preserving the spirit of safety and competition.
I hear that Senior Rec is just recreational programs and my child will not receive quality competition?
Each age group with eight or more teams is flighted to group teams at similar competitive levels. The Premier Flight is the most competitive division in each age group. The First Division and Second Divisions would be slightly less competitive and/or purely recreational in nature. The goal of flighting is to group teams with similar skills or competitive levels to preserve balance and provide every player an opportunity to compete at the level that is most appropriate for them, while still providing an opportunity to play with friends and classmates.
Many Senior Rec players also play other sports or have timing conflicts with other activities. So, these conflicts may often prevent them from committing to more intensive programs. However, many SYSL teams are very competitive. Secondly, even if a child does not make an SPFSC travel team, we seek to ensure they can have a strong, competitive program without having to leave our club.
How are Senior Rec teams managed?
Seninor Rec teams are typically run by volunteer coaches – many who have coaching licenses, high level playing or coaching experience, and/or other background in the sport. Coaches manage team activities including scheduling and game days. Professional trainers are made available to teams to assist with skill development, tactical assistance, and practice planning.
Senior Rec teams have one official practice per week and typically one match on the weekend. Games can be either Saturday or Sunday (typically) and will either be played as a home game here in Scotch Plains or an away game at another club’s home location. Scheduling is controlled by coaches and a town scheduler, providing some flexibility. Given the length of games and availability of fields, game times can vary and the most effective way of managing conflicts is to keep coaches apprised of scheduling conflicts as soon as possible.
My child is very serious about soccer. Should be join a Travel team or play Senior Rec?
Senior Recreation is a great program, but our Travel program is designed for the more committed player. Travel teams practice twice a week, participate in more skill-based training sessions, compete against higher level teams, and the emphasis is on player development. There are tryouts for Travel teams as well. While occasionally there are Senior Rec players who compete on high school soccer teams, more committed players need more intensive training than the Senior Rec programs provide.
At the SPFSC, we realize that players develop at different rates. We seek to keep our SYSL program as competitive as possible to serve as a feeder into our Travel program and to provide as good of a training platform as possible.
Are there tryouts? How are teams formed?
There are no tryouts for Senior Rec - everyone gets to play. A combination of factors are used to formulate teams each year. First, existing teams are typically carried over from year to year, unless there are requests for a child to be moved to a different team. Keeping the teams the same year after year may be difficult when players on a specific team span multiple age groups as this necessitates that teams be reformulated.
While many of our coaches have also coached in the Junior Recreation program, players from existing Junior Rec teams often request to stay with certain coaches or teams. (This is not always the case.) Players who are new to the program are usually distributed where there are open roster spots.
Typical rosters contain approximately 16-18 players to provide ample roster sizes, but to keep them manageable for coaches. Based on the number of children that register each season, roster sizes can vary from season to season.
Each player in Senior Rec is expected to play about 50% of the total minutes in a season, and ideally in every game. Various reasons may affect play time in any specific game, but it is our expectation that everyone plays and they get sufficient play time.
Who manages Senior Recreation?
The current Senior Rec Vice President is Kevin Teevan. Due to the growing size of our program and the administrative needs, the program also includes the SYSL Program Committee. Volunteers are always needed and appreciated to help spread the workload and to keep our programs running efficiently. This will allow the administration to be even more responsive to program needs.
How big is the SPF Soccer Club Senior Recreation Program?
The Program has grown to 650+ players and 40+ teams across 4 different Divisions. We field multiple teams at every Senior Rec age group and every Division within those age groups. There is approximately a 60/40 split in gender participation, with slightly more boys teams competing – although this fluctuates year to year and often stays comparable to our overall participation numbers.
In addition to Scotch Plains and Fanwood, the SYSL League currently includes Westfield, Clark, Cranford, Springfield, Mountainside, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Panthers SC (Roselle Park), FC Thunder (Plainfield), Bound Brook, and Watchung Hills. To visit their website, click here.
If you have any questions, please contact SeniorRec@SPFSoccer.com