The Future of SYSA
Parents, Coaches, Players, Volunteers:
At the general meeting held on December 10th, 2015, the SYSA Board voted unanimously to cease soccer operations effective January 1st, 2016. This decision was not taken lightly by anyone and was made after several discussions over the past two years on what’s best for the kids. Below are some questions and answers that have come up during these discussions with parents and coaches as well as some others. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Dave Pender (President) or Michelle Yurko (Treasurer).
Q: Why is this happening?
A: This is probably the most common question and it’s a complicated answer, however it can be reduced to three main points:
- Declining volunteers has led to a lack of leadership to move the club forward. Several 2015 board members have already had their kid(s) “age out” and were ready to move on but they agreed to stay on in an attempt to keep the club going while the search for replacements continued. The lack of volunteers is directly related to item #2 below.
- Declining player counts each year. While we continued to advertise in the same (and additional) outlets each year, our registration numbers continued to decline each year. The biggest losses were at the U6 age group. Just a few years ago, we had a max of 64 players each season at this age group (8 teams of 8 players each). This year, we barely had enough kids to fill 2 teams and we were forced to play “away” games at the U6 age for the first time ever. The U6 program is a feeder into our older age groups and with a significant decline, this is a very good indicator of numbers moving forward as these kids move up in age through the years.
- 2015 – 161
- 2014 – 240
- 2013 – 249
- 2012 – 280
- 2011 – 275
- 2010 – 311
- Mandatory rules changes coming from national governing bodies. This is where things can get a little more complicated, but the summary is that new rules coming down from US Youth Soccer, through Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association (EPYSA) down to the club were going to cause a significant financial and workload strain on the club. Changes to rules include field size changes, team size changes and goal frame size changes. The team size and goal frame size changes are the most damaging to SYSA. Smaller teams mean more coaches are needed. Different size frames would require several thousand dollars worth of expenses that we simply would not be able to afford.
Q: Why didn’t I know this was happening?
A: The SYSA board made every attempt we felt was required prior to the vote in December. For the past three years, our newsletter included information on the status of the need for volunteers to continue the club. This newsletter was sent home with students at several area public and private schools. Additionally, several emails were sent to current and previous registered families over the last three years. Posts were made to the website on several occasions encouraging parents to attend the monthly public board meetings.
Q: What’s happening to Spring and Summer soccer?
A: SYSA has always been a fall-only recreational soccer club. Spring and Summer programs have always been run by other parties. Coach Ricardo has run programs in the area for the last several years working closely with several coaches and volunteers from SYSA. Coach Ricardo’s programs are planned to continue for 2016 and beyond.
Q: What will happen to SYSA’s bank account(s) and money left after the 2015 season?
A: For the last several years, the club has been in excellent financial condition, carrying no debt, but at the same time, keeping cash reserves at a low level – after all, it’s not the Board’s money, it belongs to the parents. Each year, we would set our registration fees based on a “cash-flow-neutral” approach… don’t charge anymore than necessary to cover expenses. We’ve been successful year-after-year to do just that. As a result, we have very little cash-on-hand after the season is over. Currently, we have a few outstanding bills from the 2015 season left to pay. Once this has been completed, we’ll explore the best way to ensure that any leftover money (projected to be roughly $2,500) is handled “for the good of the game” and in a legal manner for non-profit organizations.
Q: Is there a lot of money left over in SYSA’s account(s)?
A: This is a subjective question. We project roughly $2,500 left as cash-on-hand when all bills for the 2015-2016 season have been paid. While this can be called “a lot” by some standards, it represents roughly 20% of our annual expenses, so by club standards, it’s not that much.
Q: Does this mean my child can’t play soccer if we played for SYSA in the past?
A: Nothing could be farther from the truth. None of the local soccer clubs are bound by geographic or “previous year” play.
Q: Where can I sign my child up to play for Fall 2016 (and beyond)?
A: There are several local soccer clubs that are open to players of all ages and skill levels. SYSA has worked closely with Olmsted Regional Soccer Association (ORSA) for years and we encourage coaches and players to sign up to play with them.
Q: Am I required to register with ORSA?
A: Not at all, however, the SYSA board recommends ORSA over other area clubs for the reasons mentioned in the question a few lines below.
Q: Will my child still be able to play with coach “x” and/or player “y”?
A: Discussions with ORSA on this are ongoing and will continue during the registration process. Much of this depends on how many kids there are, how many teams are needed for each age group, and the skill level of each of them. We’ve discussed that we’ll make a “best effort” to keep many SYSA teams somewhat intact. As with SYSA’s team building policy, no guarantees are ever made and teams are based on the combined skill levels of all players to ensure a fun recreational soccer experience for all players.
Q: Will my child play at ORSA’s Greenfield facility or SYSA fields?
A: This will depend on several factors including field availability, how many teams there are and practice schedules. We have discussed the possibility of continuing to use the new Ivy Ridge location as a practice location for several teams as well as an “overflow” location for games.
Q: Why do you recommend ORSA over other area clubs?
Quite simply, Olmsted shares SYSA’s philosophy on recreational soccer. They have a strong leadership team in place and a solid volunteer base for many years to come. Additionally, several coaches and board members plan to remain involved in various capacities with ORSA in the future. An additional factor is their relatively close proximity to where many SYSA families live/work/practice.
Q: Where can I find additional information about ORSA?
A: ORSA’s website is http://www.olmstedsoccer.org/
Additional Questions and Answers may be added to this post as they come up in the future.