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Spring play is springboard for the fall

February 26, 2008
By Tom Schmitt, For the Mirror
With the completion of the Summit’s Meltdown challenge, the curtain is drawn on another season of walled indoor soccer play.

Soccer clubs are now declaring their teams for spring play, and certain trends in spring play exist that have become extremely obvious. One, is that those players wishing to sharpen and prepare themselves for scholastic play in the fall should be registered for spring play or travel league play if they want to bolster competitive skills.

The other observation is that those teams wishing to progress in district and state play need the advantage of registering and playing as a united team in spring travel.

The Bishop Guilfoyle girls team under Bill James was a good example of this. Competitive spring travel play developed both technical skills for the players and tactical skills for the team. It’s also a huge advantage to coaches to help spot team and individual weaknesses.

Altoona’s District 6 championship this past season was aided a great deal, I believe, by assistant. high school coach Bruce Makin playing the heart of his team in a competitive league and playing the big tournaments. Altoona junior high girls coach Jim John will also be another coach who works extensively with a spring team comprised mostly of his junior high girls.

Tom Zilla has been coaching and guiding the Altoona High School girls by placing them in competitive spring play for u-16s and u-19s. It is their best chance to develop a feeling for team play.

The powerful freshman stars from the Hollidaysburg High School team will drill and play even harder during spring PAWest Classic travel play. Led by Altoona boys coach Dave Alexander, these u-15,u-16 girls team will play the toughest classic competition, going after the Snickers State Cup Championship.

Cambria County junior high school and high school soccer teams are huge believers in this theory as most of them will enter united teams in PA West travel play this spring. They do this on a traditional basis, and it has paid big dividends in preparing for their scholastic seasons. The only setback is the strain on available fields and pulling out enough referees and linesmen to cover all the games.

Centre Soccer (State College) has also been a big believer in developing teams in this fashion under one common association in the county, and its success has been obvious with the State College boys copping 90 percent of the district boys titles and a number of girls titles. By now every team in the district should be aware of this.


n Many teams in the district are critically short of referees, partly because they depend so heavily on youth referees who will be playing themselves in the spring. Adults are also badly needed to run the center referee positions as the number of registered teams this spring may bring an all-time high in travel teams .Combine this with field space shortage, and it could be a difficult season for spring travel play.

n Our area desperately needs an outdoor soccer tournament to draw other teams to our area. An unsanctioned 3-on-3 would be a great idea, and I know the Altoona Soccer Club has given this thought. These are exceptionally fun tournaments, require few players, allow a large number of teams to enter, require few referees and demand little field space.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.

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