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CSA Travel Program

CSA Travel Program

What is the philosophy of the CSA Travel Program?

All of Centre Soccer's Programing is committed to individual player development and is not focused on results of teams. As part of player development it is important that players are challenged in their playing environment and to ensure this happens CSA forms travel teams as needed. We ask our coaches to focus on basic principles of defense and attack in the younger age groups but want to see players develop individual skills that will allow them to be successful in a team environment as they mature.

Our younger age groups (U9-U12) are pooled to let talent develop. At older age groups (U13+) playing 11v11,  team competition in appropriate leagues becomes an increasingly important aspect of player development. It is therefore important for teams at the highest level to be formed from an open tryout process and player evaluations to be able to create the most competitive team so that players are competing and training with players of similar ability and commitment.  Being on a travel or classic team one year does not guarantee a spot the next year on the same team. Classic Teams are formed with the best players from the Mt. District and they play with the Mountain District Union. Our travel teams are formed from the best players in State College and local townships after u13.
How do I join a CSA Travel Team?
If you are interested in joining CSA Travel or Classic Soccer, please log-in to your CSA account and choose the Travel or Classic Option available to you based on your age. (New? Info on how to register for an account is here) Then, sign- up to express interest for Travel or Classic generally in your age group- Sign-up is not for a specific team- there is no fee at this step for CSA teams. Teams are formed after the evaluations based on the number of interested players and their ability levels. Once you sign-up, you will be contacted by the coach or CSA official when an open session is offered.  All teams have a few open sessions each season for new players.  Open tryouts are also posted before they occur. Expressing interest is the most important step and is free.

What Leagues do you play in?
Centre Soccer is the club that represents State College in PAWest. PAWest establishes only one club per community. The PA West leagues Centre Soccer participates in are designed to promote successful teams upward, and qualify interested teams for the National and Region 1 leagues, and National Series tournaments. A Centre Soccer teams start play in Division 5. This league consists of Pa West Clubs from our local area. Teams can voluntarily enter Division 4 and play the best community teams in the State Association in their age group. 

Other leagues: Players from our area can enter the Pa West Classic league through teams formed in the Mountain District Union Program.  Above PA West’s Classic League, the Region 1 Champions league is the next higher USYS league, and comprised by the most successful teams from the highest league in each of the 16 State Associations in Region 1. In PA West, the Classic League is the highest league, and teams that succeed at the Classic League are eligible to promote to the Regional Champions league. Successful teams at the Region 1 level play in the National League. As you can see, the league options are diverse and form a logical pathway for teams that succeed to always have a challenging option above them to grow into. This is a very good reason for our affiliation with PA West and USYS.
 How is soccer structured in the US?
The US Soccer Federation, the national body representing the US in CONCACAF and FIFA, created US Youth Soccer (USYS) to establish youth soccer in the United States. From just 100,000 players in 1974, USYS has over 3 Million players now. USYS created a governing body in each state called a State Association to manage soccer and establish statewide leagues. US Youth Soccer is able to provide uniform rules and guidelines for the State Associations. These guidelines facilitate intra-state, inter-state and international play, and cover play levels from recreational in-house levels, District, State and Regional competitions, and ultimately filter up to the US Olympic and National Teams. Centre Soccer is a USYS and PA West Club.

Due to the population concentrations at the Eastern and Western ends of PA, The US Soccer Federation divided Pennsylvania geographically for soccer into an Eastern (EPYSA) and Western State Association (PAWest.)  PAWest covers the western part of the State as designated on this map. There are over 40,000 players registered in PAWest Clubs.

As a Class A member of PA West, travel teams from CSA are able to enter leagues at various levels of competition across the central and western parts of PA offered by PAWest. The leagues we enter in PA West are required to provide home games to our players on fields in our local area regardless of travel distance for the opponent. A typical travel season has 8 games. 4 home/4 away. Our home games are played on premier fields in State College, including Fogelman Field. In PAWest, there is only one club designated for each community.  Centre Soccer is the PA West designated club for State College.  We do not limit participation in our club by a players residency.

PA West's Youth Division consists of many divisions and leagues based on the level of competition. The Divisions commonly referred to as Sunday Travel are Divisions 4 and 5, and play matches on Sunday afternoons, typically no earlier than Noon. Teams in these Divisions are formed by Community Clubs representing the players from their designated area. Centre Soccer is a Community Club, and one of the largest in PAWest.  Read more about our history here.  The Classic Division consists of club teams concentrated in the greater Pittsburgh area in the Saturday Divisions of 3, 2, & 1. Read below for more info on the Classic Division.  

Each member club in PAWest is entitled to host home games. CSA teams play on premier fields in State College, including Fogelman Field

When and where are games played?
Divisions 4 & 5 are known as Sunday Travel. By rule, these games must occur on Sundays no earlier than noon. A typical season is 7 or 8 games, 3 or 4 home and away games each. CSA's home games are played on premier Fields in State College.

Upper level teams that have earned a promotion to the Classic League play on Saturdays. These teams start forming around U13 and are solely based on ability and selected from a regional pool of players. Players can play on a Travel and Classic team in CSA at the same time.

What is the difference between the Travel divisions in PAWest? 
Travel Divisions in PA West where we live are Divisions 4 & 5. Games in these leagues by rule are on Sundays no earlier than noon.  Games days may change based on conditions and mutual agreement of both teams.

Division 4 is the highest level of Sunday Travel and consists of the top teams from anywhere in PA West's boundaries from Erie, Pittsburgh, and occasionally to parts of WV bordering Southwestern PA.   Because there is only one Community Club designated for each locality in PAWest, this Division is highly competitive and many Classic and ODP players will compete in this division on Sundays on the teams representing their local area. This Division usually plays in both Fall and Spring across all age groups and genders.

Division 5 in the Mountain District consists of teams from our region (Bellefonte, Huntingdon, Clearfield, Dubois, Altoona, Lock Haven, Hollidaysburg, Bedford, Laurel Highlands, and more.)  This is the entry-level division for most new CSA teams from U10-12. This ensures there is ample competition within the district to reduce driving for entry level teams. From U10-U12, games are played in both the Fall and Spring. At U13 & 14, games are played in the Spring only.  Over U14, there is a U19 division in the Spring only that has approximately 20 teams comprised of high school teams in the Mountain Division.  Most teams are approximately less than 1 hours drive from State College, with a few under 2 hours drive (Laurel Highlands, Bedford, and Dubois.) Not all Community Clubs from Division 5 roster a team in each age group.

How do PAWest's leagues, competitiveness, and travel amount compare with the CPYSL?
Since there are other clubs in our area who are members of US Club Soccer, and not USYS, and since these clubs sometimes roster teams in the CPYSL (a league in South Central PA through the EPYSA, not PAWest) through a sponsoring CPYSL member club outside of our area and within the geographical confines the EPYSA (Eastern PA), there are some important distinctions to make between PAWest's Travel League Divisions and the CPYSL.

First, the numerical designation used by PA West for each Division does not represent a comparable level of play in the EPYSA/CPYSL. Because PAWest's Division 4 represents the highest level of geographic team formation in PA West, the level of play is typically very competitive and would compare to CPYSL's Divisions of Premier,1, & 2.  PAWest Division 4 typically forms this league in single year age brackets. (For example U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, U18, U19.)  Just like in the CPYSL, if there are not enough teams entered in an age group to form a bracket, occasionally two age groups are merged.  Typically, Division 4 is a single year bracket and very competitive.  The same also goes for the upper Classic Divisions of 3, 2, & 1 in PAWest. 

The important distinction between the CPYSL and PAWest divisions is that teams in the CPYSL play teams from anywhere in the league at any play level, whereas in PAWest, our teams can decide how far we want to travel based on our play level. PA West's Division 5 is a less competitive level that limits teams entry by a smaller geographic territory. Most opponents in Division 5 are within a 1 hours drive from State College. Division 5 within our district typically forms dual year age brackets to ensure ample competition while reducing driving. CPYSL's divisions of 2, 3, 4, and 5 all are similar competitively to PA West's Division 5. There is no similar division in the CPYSL where entry level teams can choose to play similarly experienced teams and stay close to home. This is very important for the youngest players and reduces participation costs. CSA did an analysis of travel demands between the 3 leagues available to U12'ss in the Spring 2015 Season. The CPYSL teams drove the same or more than the CSA teams in PA West Division 4, and one CPYSL team in an entry level bracket drove almost triple the amount of time than our team in PA West Division 5. 600 miles more! (Analysis: How Much Traveling is there in Travel Soccer for a State College Player?")

Also, CPYSL league games are played in the CPYSL's territory, so those other clubs from our greater region that roster teams in the CPYSL are playing their home league games somewhere in the CPYSL's territory and not in State College. This means travel to a club on the western border of the EPYSA's territory for a home game: Danville or Mifflin County. As the PAWest-designated club representing State College, Centre Soccer's teams play in PAWest leagues with home games here in State College.

When comparing options, people not familiar with CSA often say that there is more travel in PA West and hence with CSA. That simply isn't the case. CPYSL includes teams from Hanover, Gettysburg, York, Lancaster, Hershey, etc. Some of the games in that league are two and a half hours away - similar to traveling to Pittsburgh even at the less competitive levels of travel. CSA's entry-level Division 5 (Local) travel teams do not travel more than an hour and a half, and most away games are under 1 hour's travel.  This is why we start younger players (U10) in this division. Once CSA's teams are voluntarily promoted into Division 4, the top Sunday Travel Level in PAWest, only then does the travel requirement for our experienced and maturing players approach what is found in the CPYSL at the entry level divisions of CPYSL's D3, D4, & D5. (CSA does not encourage travel earlier than U10,) and those same CPYSL teams are playing their home games 35 min-1.5 hours away from State College in addition to the significant travel for away games. (Analysis: How Much Traveling is there in Travel Soccer for a State College Player?")

The other important difference is that CPYSL games are played on Saturday mornings for the younger age groups. Early morning kickoffs at fields in one and a half to two hours away require an overnight stay for a league game or a very early departure. CSA's games in PAWest by rule begin no earlier than noon on a Sunday (unless a special request is made and agreed upon by both teams), and our home games are at convenient premier fields in State College.  

CSA's Sunday Travel schedule is compatible for CSA's Travel players active in other sports. CSA's Travel players are typically able to play Sunday Travel and also attend Saturday events without interference from soccer, including participating in football in the Fall (including spectating at Penn State games) and lacrosse and baseball in the Spring.

How is the play level for a team determined?
Our coaches in consultation with our Technical Director decide the playing level they wish to play between these two divisions based on the ability of the team and the availability to travel.  CSA Travel players active in other sports are typically able to play Sunday Travel and also attend Saturday events without interference from soccer, including participating in football in the Fall (including spectating at Penn State games) and lacrosse and baseball in the Spring. 

Travel teams start at U10 and go up through U19.  There are typically Fall and Spring seasons from U10-12.  Our U13 & U14 travel teams often play simultaneously in the Fall season in Division 4 or 3 in addition to their Middle School programs.  At U15+, there is usually not a Fall league in any divisions due to school soccer programs. 

Most U10-U11 teams begin as Division 5 teams to reduce the burden of travel on young players. While travel is expected to find appropriate competition as players mature and their abilities increase, we do not want our youth players to negatively associate unnecessary travel with the sport at too early of an age. 

What is the Classic League?

There are higher levels of play for U12-U19 players within PAWest that include competition in Classic Club Leagues. These Clubs are concentrated in the Pittsburgh area and consist of players from anywhere in PA West who are invited to join the club based on a try-out. Classic matches occur on Saturdays. A CSA Classic Team has home games in State College. There is a qualification process for Community Clubs entering teams into the Saturday Classic Divisions of 3, 2, & 1. This Classic Club Division is highly competitive.  Each new team starts in Division 3 in the Classic Club Division. At the end of the season, the top team in each Classic Division are promoted one level up, and the bottom one is relegated one level down.

Players interested in the Classic League can try out for a Mountain District Union Team at U13 and up in their age group. The Mountain District Union is a collaboration of the best clubs in our area to provide a pathway for advanced players to have a high level option from our area.  MDU teams hold a tryout in June. If you are interested in the MDU, please visit the MDU website.

What is the Champions League?
PA West is a member of Region1, one of the four soccer regions in the US, and the region consisting of the 16 State Associations from the Mid-Atlantic and New England States. Region 1 offers the Champion's league for the most advanced teams that have good record at the highest level of their State Association.  These teams must apply for entry, and in PA West, acceptance requires the recommendation of the State Association.  Only a US Youth soccer organization member can apply to compete in the Region I Champion's League.  A team cannot be sponsored by a US Youth Soccer Member to play in the Champions League.  Any US Youth Soccer club or organization that attempts to sponsor a non US Youth Soccer team is subject to disciplinary action and dismissal of the sponsored team. This means that teams desiring to play in the Champions league must compete and originate from a league in the correct State Association, and teams with a majority of State College area players must originate from CSA..  Centre Soccer and the Mountain District Union will enter teams in this league when appropriate for the team, and accepted by the league.

What are the State Cup and President's Cup Tournament's? 
These tournaments are part of the National Championship Series (NCS).  The State Cup is the highest level tournament in the country. Each State Association hosts qualifying tournaments to determine its champion. The Champions from each State Association meet at a tournament for their Region.  The Regional Champions meet at the Nationals, and a US Champion is crowned for each age group. The President's Cup functions the same way, except teams that have been to the highest level of their State Cup tournament, and teams playing in Regional leagues (Region 1 Champion's League or National League) are prohibited from entering the President's Cup.  Teams entering these NCS tournaments must be comprised of a majority of players from their State Association and fulfill their State Associations qualification requirements.  For example, in PA West,  to be eligible for the PA West State Cup, a team must consist of a majority of players residing in PA West and play in a PA West qualifying league (PA West D1-6).   In the EPYSA, there are similar residency requirements and qualification processes.  CSA teams play in PA West leagues and are eligible to play in the NCS tournaments.  It is unlikely that a team of players residing in PA West would be eligible to play in the EPYSA's State Cup.

What is the Club Pass?

Coaches in CSA Travel, in consultation with our Technical Director, have the flexibility to move players to matches best suited for the player's development. Our team rosters are somewhat flexible for the season and players can play in other games of an equal or higher play level and/or age if in the opinion of the coaches and Technical Director it is in the best interest of the player.   This helps players who have improved during the season and allows players to develop at their own pace. This reflects the philosophy in our Developmental program. 

How and When are teams formed?

Travel teams are formed through evaluations with players interested in committing to the CSA Travel Program.  We offer open evaluation sessions where players interested in playing in Travel can express interested in being considered, then come to the scheduled open sessions.  The end of the spring season is the usual time for forming teams for the fall. 

How are coaches selected?

For travel coach requirements, see below. Coaches are selected by our Technical Director, Lisa Cole (USSF "A", NSCAA Premier Licenses). Lisa is the former head coach of the Boston Breakers in the NWSL, and former college Head Coach at the University of Rhode Island, in addition to positions as an assistant to Mark Kirkorian at Florida State, ODP Region I coach, and other positions.  Our travel coaching staff has licensing requirements listed below, and we offer opportunities for coach development & education through PAWest, and the NSCAA.

What commitment do it need to make to be on a travel team?

Players on CSA Travel Teams are committing to attend all training and games, regardless of distance, with reasonable absences permitted. Travel teams also may attend tournaments that may require an overnight stay. 

I want to join a travel team. How do I do that?

If you are interested in joining CSA Travel or Classic Soccer, please log-in to your CSA account and choose the Travel or Classic Option available to you based in your age.  You sign up for Travel of Classic generally in your age group to express interest- Sign-up is not for a specific team. Teams are formed after the evaluations. Once you sign-up, you will be contacted by the coach when an open session is offered.  All teams have a few open sessions each season for new players.

CSA Travel Coaches

Centre Soccer is committed to hiring qualified coaches for our travel teams. At times coaches may be qualified parent coaches, but in most cases CSA will begin to hire non-parent Head Coaches. Coaches at this level have been asked to have a minimum of the following qualifications by the Spring of 2014 to continue coaching at this level. Centre Soccer will pay for the coaches education in return for their investment in coaching our players. If you are interested in coaching please contact our Technical Director, Lisa Cole. 

10 - U13        USSF "E" License or NSCAA Level
13 +             USSF "D" License or NSCAA Level 6

For a list of our current coaches click here

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