The Natick Soccer Club travel program provides players with the opportunity to participate in a competitive league and compete against neighboring towns. The travel program has a competitive focus, but still emphasizes fun, skill development, and reasonable participation.
Travel teams participate in the Boston Area Youth Soccer (BAYS) league. The season runs for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring. All games are on Saturdays, with 5 played in Natick and 5 played away each season. Teams may also participate in additional tournaments over the Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Memorial Day weekends. They may also participate in various winter leagues. The Spring season is the competitive season in youth soccer, as the section winners for the older age groups receive trophies and the Division 1 and 2 winners play in the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions (MTOC). Division 2 and 3 teams may also participate in the President’s Cup each Spring.
The Natick Soccer travel program begins for players in Grade 3 and continues all the way through high school. Players in these grades who want to be on one of the top teams must attend the appropriate tryout in the spring (typically May or June) to be placed on a team that begins playing the following fall or spring.
Tryouts are NOT REQUIRED unless a player is interested in potentially being placed on one of the top teams in their grade. If a player chooses not to tryout, they will either be placed on a combined grade 3/4 Intramural team or on another travel team roster for grades 5-8 (since all players participate in the travel program beginning in grade 5).
There are two (2) teams formed for Grade 3 and three (3) teams formed for Grade 4. Players who tryout for Grade 3 or 4 teams that do not make a travel team will be placed on an intramural team comprised of both Grade 3 and 4 players. There are multiple teams formed for Grade 5 through Grade 8, and also in high school, since all players in these grades participate in the travel program. Players who are placed on a travel roster for Grade 3 or 4 teams must commit to both the fall and spring seasons. Players grades 5 and older have the option to participate in spring or fall only.
The cost of the travel program is $165 per season for Grade 3-8 players, plus the cost of a uniform which can be purchased at Natick Outdoor Store.
- Register online. Registration opens on or about May 1. Registration must be completed by the deadline communicated in order to attend the tryout. Instructions on registration will be sent to you by email if you are a currently registered club member. If you are not currently registered with Natick Soccer club, you can register on the Natick Soccer club website. You will be required to pay for the fall season at the time of registration. Note: Players who register for Grade 3 or Grade 4 tryouts will pay the intramural fee at the time of registration. If they are subsequently selected to a travel team roster, they will then be required to pay the difference for the travel program fee. Register here.
- Attend one tryout. Players may only attend the tryout applicable to their grade. Tryouts are done in 1 session per grade with the exception of the top 3 teams for Grade 7/8. Players being considered for one of these 3 teams will be called back for a 2nd tryout session. Tryouts run for approximately 1.5 hours. Players will be evaluated on a number of criteria based on various skills stations and small-sided games.
- Receive results. Tryout results are communicated on or about July 1 via email. Coaches are assigned to teams later in the summer and will reach out to their teams by sometime in August.
BEFORE YOU REGISTER FOR TRYOUTS
- Confirm your child’s eligibility. ALL players entering Grade 3 and older should plan to register and attend the appropriate tryout corresponding to their grade in the upcoming fall season. More detail on age eligibility is listed in the Frequently Asked Questions #4 below.
- Save the Tryout date in your calendar. Ensure your child is able to attend the tryout date assigned to their grade in the fall. Tryout dates are posted on the Tryout Schedule page and are also emailed in early spring. NOTE: There are NO make-up dates for tryouts (with the exception of weather-related rescheduling).
- Understand the commitment. Our goal is to create an environment for all kids in Natick Soccer to have a good, fun, learning experience that helps to grow their love of the game and their skills to play it. Please familiarize yourself with the commitment required of your child for playing on a travel team before you decide to have them try out. The commitment includes:
- Seasons: Participating on the team roster for the entire fall season (all grades) and spring season (grades 3 & 4 mandatory; grades 5-8 optional)
- Practices: Attending 2 practices per week for 10 weeks per season
- Games: Playing in 1 game per week for 10 weeks per season, on Saturdays (grades 3-8) or Sundays (HS only)
- 5 games are played in Natick and 5 are played in surrounding towns.
- Teams are placed in a league division that is ideally suited to the skill-level of the team.
- Tournaments: Participating in tournaments as decided by team coaches.
- Most teams participate in the Natick Soccer Club Columbus Day weekend tournament in the fall and may also be in a Memorial Day tournament in the spring.
- Grade 5 through Grade 8 may qualify and participate in the President’s Cup or Mass. Tournament of Champions, held in the spring season.
- Financial: Costs associated with the travel program include:
- Registration fee
- Uniforms, cleats, shin guards, and other personal equipment (not included in the registration fee)
- Tournament fees (not included in the registration fee)
DURING THE TRYOUT
- Please have your child wear comfortable clothing, shin guards, and cleats. Please do NOT wear local club soccer shirts or shorts (those that have logos from GPS, NEFC, Valeo, etc.). Bring plenty of water.
- Upon arrival, players should go to the check-in table to ensure they are registered and to receive their tryout shirt.
- Parents should drop-off their children and return at the end of the tryout. We ask that parents DO NOT STAY to watch the tryouts.
- Tryouts run for approximately 1.5 hours. Players will be evaluated on a number of criteria based on various skills stations and small-sided games. Evaluators may include:
- The head coach or assistant coach (not both) for each team of the age group being evaluated;
- Any Natick Soccer Club board member who is not currently a coach for the age group;
- Any Natick Soccer Club coach who is not currently a coach for the age group; and/or
- Any individual whom the travel director determines can make a meaningful contribution to the assessment of the players’ skill level and who is not associated with a player for the age group (for example, professional coaches from local soccer clubs).
Parents and bystanders may not evaluate players unless they satisfy these criteria and have also received approval from the Natick Soccer travel director.
AFTER THE TRYOUT
- Tryout evaluations are collected by the appropriate Natick Soccer Board Travel Team age-group director.
- Coach evaluations and tryout evaluations are used to determine travel team rosters.
- Tryout results will be communicated via email on or about July 1. Please DO NOT contact Natick Soccer prior to this date as the process involves multiple players, teams, coaches, meetings and protocols which makes it very challenging for us to communicate anything prior to that date.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How are players selected for a team?
The Natick Soccer Club holds travel team tryouts for the Grade 3 through Grade 8 age groups during May/June for the next soccer year. All tryout participants must be registered in order to participate in tryouts. The typical player (based on grade eligibility) will be in the spring of their 2nd grade year when they are eligible to try out for the first time (for Fall 3rd grade). The tryout results along with the coach’s evaluations are used to recommend placements. The NSC Tryout Committee reserves the right to determine final placement. Factors for placement may include the level of commitment shown by players in previous seasons.
2. Why do some players move teams from year to year?
We encourage some movement to allow players who thrived in one environment to be challenged in a more competitive team. From a developmental standpoint, we also want to place players on teams where they can be more successful.
3. How many players are on a travel team roster?
The number of players on 7v7, 9v9, or 11v11 teams may vary depending on many factors but ultimately determined by the Travel Program Committee. There are BAYS limitations for the number of players on a given team, however, we typically fall well below the BAYS limit. For 9v9 and 11v11 teams (grades 5-8), when all teams participate in the travel program, the travel committee determines the roster size based on the number of players needing placement.
4. What are the age requirements for travel soccer?
Natick Soccer Club follows the BAYS league requirements for travel soccer. More information can be found on the BAYS website and in the outline below:
Players must meet the following criteria in order to participate in the travel program:
- Players must be entering Grade 3 or above in the fall season in order to participate in tryouts.
- Players must register in the program that corresponds to their grade in the upcoming fall season
- NOTE: If your Date of Birth and Grade do not match the school year age cutoff, you will be asked to provide proof of age and grade for the applicable tryout.
5. Can players try out at multiple age groups?
No. Players are eligible to tryout with one age group only. If a player does not attend tryouts, NSC will place the player on a grade-appropriate team.
6. Do travel players have to try out?
Players entering 3rd and 4th grade are required to attend tryouts if they wish to play on one of the two 3rd grade travel teams or one of the three 4th grade travel teams in the fall. If they do not attend tryouts, they will be placed on an intramural team comprised of players from both grade 3 and 4.
Players in 5th through 8th grade that want to play on one of the top three travel teams in the fall must tryout. Tryouts are not mandatory for those 5th-8th grade players that do not want to play for one of the top three travel teams. Grade 7 and Grade 8 players must attend the tryout session in order to be placed on one of the top three teams. Players will be invited to a callback session after the first tryout if they are being considered for one of the top 3 teams, although the callback itself does not guarantee they will be on one of those teams. (See Question #12 below regarding tryout schedule conflicts for more info.)
We encourage players that want to play “Spring Only” to tryout in order to assist us in determining the appropriate placement for the following Spring. Placement for “Spring Only” players that do not go to the prior year’s tryout will be based on past coaches’ evaluations, input from the club’s coaching staff, and input from past soccer coaches (if moving to Natick from another town). The NSC Travel Committee will make the final placement determination for each player.
7. Why are tryouts in the Spring for the following Fall / Spring seasons?
Natick Soccer has around 800 players attending tryouts each spring. This is a significant process that needs to be completed by the end of June for a number of logistical reasons and requirements to submit information to both the state and league organizations. For example, we need to register our travel teams with BAYS in June of each year and July is used to prepare for the upcoming season. All rosters are due early August to our league and our members (players and volunteers) are submitted to MYSA (state organization).
8. What are the requirements for players wanting to tryout as a Goalkeeper?
Goalkeeper tryouts are held for the Grade 7/8 teams. NSC will hold a Grade 7/8 Goalkeeper tryout separately from the field player tryouts. If a player participates in tryouts as a field player and as a goalkeeper, and they are placed on one of the top three teams as a Goalkeeper, they are expected to play 50% of each game. Players that tryout as both a field player and Goalkeeper will be placed at the highest level the travel committee determines is best suited for that player. Players that tryout for Goalkeeper only are expected to play full time for their respective team at the coaches’ discretion and will also be placed at the level the travel committee determines is best suited for that player.
9. When are tryouts held?
Tryouts are held May thru early June each spring for teams playing in the fall/spring of the following year.
10. When will the players know their placement?
The teams for Fall of a given year will be communicated to families on or about July 1st. The coaches for those teams are selected after this process. Coaches should be in contact with their respective teams around August 1st.
11. What if my child doesn’t make a travel team?
Not all players attending tryouts for Grade 3 and Grade 4 teams may be selected to a travel team. There will be two teams selected for Grade 3 and three teams selected for Grade 4, for each gender. Players in this age group that do not make a travel team can still participate in the intramural program. All players in grades 5 through 8 will be placed on a travel team.
12. What if my child is injured or can’t participate in a tryout due to a conflict?
If a player is ill, injured or otherwise cannot attend tryouts, you must contact the tryout coordinator and the player’s coach prior to the scheduled tryout. All players must be registered prior to the tryout and note any conflicts in the comment section during registration. Any player not attending tryouts due to injury, illness or other conflicts will receive appropriate consideration for an invitation to callbacks (Grade 7/8 only) or for placement on a travel team when the travel teams are selected using all data available to us. The exceptions are 3rd grade and any 4th graders that were not placed on a travel team previously.
NSC compares our tryout schedule against the school calendars to minimize conflicts with school-related activities. Spring is a very busy time of year and it is not practical to expect that we can work around every other sport or extracurricular activity.
13. Can I register for a single season?
The single season registration is available to 5th-8th grade players only. This allows the player to participate in the Fall Only or Spring Only with the option of playing full year.
14. Can my 3rd/4th grader also play a single season for Travel?
No, the 3rd and 4th grade program requires the full year commitment. Those players wishing to play a single season will need to play in the intramural program.
15. What if a player who played in the Fall decides to play in the Spring after registering for a single season initially?
There will be a Spring registration period between mid-November thru the end of December. Players registered for Fall Only will need to register again for the Spring Only option during this window.
16. How will the single season option affect teams and player placement?
We do not take into consideration a player being registered for single season versus full year when placing players on appropriate teams. We do encourage players planning to play the following Spring Only to attend tryouts if they wish to play on one of the top three teams to assist us with determining the appropriate placement.
17. If a player commits to a full year, will that player be on the same team for both seasons?
Yes, for grade 3 and 4 players only. For players in grades 5-8, our goal is to have minimal changes between the fall and spring season, however, there are occasional logistical needs to have some player movement. Any player movement will be reviewed by the travel committee and coaches affected to determine the movement needed.
18. How much playing time should be expected?
The most difficult part of coaching in a competitive league is trying to balance winning and ensuring that everyone plays. It is easy for a coach to divide playing time in lopsided games but in close games it is nearly impossible to keep everyone happy. It is the coach’s discretion to devise the substitution plan based on each game situation, but it is recommended that all players participate on average at least half the game for travel.
19. Who evaluates players during tryouts?
Evaluators at a tryout may include:
- The head coach or assistant coach (not both) of the age group being evaluated;
- Any Natick Soccer Club board member who is not currently a coach for the age group;
- Any Natick Soccer Club coach who is not currently a coach for the age group; and/or
- Any individual who the travel director determines can make a meaningful contribution to the assessment of the players’ skill level and who is not associated with a player for the age group (for example, professional coaches from local soccer clubs).
Parents and bystanders cannot evaluate unless they satisfy these criteria and have received approval from a travel director.
20. Do I need a new uniform?
Players who are new to the travel program or who have lost or outgrown their current uniform must purchase a uniform. Natick Soccer also updates the travel uniforms typically every 3 years, so all players will need to purchase a new one at that time.