A recreational youth soccer league is coming to Whiteland.
The South Central Soccer Academy and new Whiteland Community High School boys soccer coach Justin VanHorn are working to establish a league this fall.
The league is aimed at children ages 4 to 10. Practices will begin Aug. 25, and the final league game will be Oct. 11. Teams of boys and girls will compete in age groups — 6 and younger, 8 and younger and 10 and younger.
VanHorn, who was named to the head coaching position for this fall after serving as a varsity assistant, said the league is an important step in establishing a stronger soccer culture in the Whiteland/New Whiteland area.
“Soccer is starting to get big in Indiana. You’re starting to have more parents now who played the game themselves,” VanHorn said. “With the World Cup going on, I think you have more people who are starting to get interested. So we want to attract some more numbers to having their kids play.”
While building a successful youth league is good for the game in general, VanHorn said, it can make a big difference for the school soccer program as well.
“Whiteland has been football-heavy for a while. If kids don’t have a place to play, they automatically shift to other sports that are more popular,” he said. “Franklin and Center Grove have feeder programs that allow the kids to play competitively for a long time before high school.
“Soccer is a game you really learn by playing, and it’s not really something you can teach very well to kids when they are older. So starting this will definitely help the high school program in the long run.”
The league will host its games at Break-O-Day Elementary School, the same place where the former Whiteland Youth Soccer Association conducted its league activities. That league ceased operations five or six years ago due to lagging volunteer availability.
VanHorn is partnering with South Central Soccer Academy (formerly known as Center Grove Soccer Club), a recreational and travel club based in Bargersville off Whiteland Road. SCSA assistant director of coaching Nick Hargett said helping establish a youth league in Whiteland fits in with the club’s mission to build the game in this area.
“Our big philosophy here is player development first and coaching education,” Hargett said. “If we can get volunteer coaches to understand some of the best practices, it is a good thing. Typically you might have the one parent who is just good at coaching because he understands parents, and then the difference in learning and experience is really different from team to team.
“We try to educate the parent coaches with best practices, so no matter which team you are on, you will learn the right things about the game. A lot of kids may be playing soccer (in the area), but we would say most of them are not getting the level of training that they need to really advance as players.”
Hargett said that South Central has invested a lot of resources into an academy model, where players ranging in age from 8 to 10 train and play together in a large group, not so much in a recreational setting but not wholly travel soccer, either. Coaches at the club will identify the likeliest candidates for the academy.
This fall, players in the Whiteland league could be selected for this program as well.
“There will be a few weeks after the rec season where we will select some players and have them play as a group in a travel tournament or two,” he said. “We’ll have coaches there looking for players who might be able to do that.”
Cost for players in the Whiteland league is $70 for U6 and $85 for U8 and U10. Hargett said the cost is to cover expenses such as coaching education, equipment and insurance. He added that quality, rather than volume, is a priority for the club.
“We don’t want to get 400 right away and not do very well with them,” Hargett said. “We want to offer opportunity for players at all levels, not just the most competitive players. Soccer is for everybody.”
People interested can learn more and register online at scsawarriors.com
Following a well-attended kickoff camp in June, VanHorn hopes the league takes root and continues to expand.
“Every year we hope to add more kids,” he said. “We’re starting with the younger ages just to get it kicked off. Once it’s successful, hopefully it starts to look more and more like what is going on already at SCSA.
“I think as the generations turn over, the game is just going to continue to grow, including around here.”