Soccer calendars vary by state, primarily due to the local climate. Yet many soccer parents chuckle at the concept of ‘Spring’ soccer, because the weather can get pretty wild (and cold) some years. Still, the idea of ‘Spring’ soccer generally meant the bulk of the season was played in… the Spring. Here in North Carolina that meant travel matches would start in late February and end in late April. Not any more!
Despite the variances due to climate, most USYSA affiliate soccer calendars are driven backwards from the USYSA National Championship Series. Regionals, State Cups, and regular seasons to determine cup seeds all factor in. For our state, that means we wrap everything up by Memorial Day. The weekend before is the State Cup final four and the 2-3 weeks before that are the State Cup events. So that generally left March and April for travel matches.
However, the sheer number of ‘cup’ events packed into May were stretching the state office staff too thin. So they needed to spread out into late April. Suddenly the end of the season was in mid April and you still had Easter weekend to contend with. Then add in the weather. April showers are common, and even here in NC we seem to get occasional winter weather (usually ice). In recent years, 3-5 washed out weekends were not uncommon, wreaking havoc on schedules. Teams were struggling to get all their matches in before the seeding deadlines. So what did we do? Start earlier.
This year the travel season starts this weekend on January 28th! Now, our travel teams self schedule, with all teams in a divison working out play dates with each other. Nobody says you HAVE to start January 28th, just that you can. You just have to make sure you’re done by the deadlines (mid April for 11v11 and mid May for 8v8). The problem is most teams are playing it safe and front loading their schedule in case we get a stretch of bad weather. How safe? My son’s U15 team will wrap up their season the last weekend of March. One of our U12 teams has their last regular season match scheduled before the start of Spring! Certainly some bad weather could push some matches into April. But you have to wonder… If we have dry weather, these teams could have 6-9 weeks of down time before the end of season tournaments!
I know, I know. Rescheduling matches is a royal pain. But is this the answer? Scheduling the bulk of your Spring regular season before Spring even starts? I guess we’ll setup a lot of friendlies if the weather behaves!