With the conclusion of the 2009 Keystone Soccer Club Meltdown Tournament comes the end of the area indoor soccer tournament season.
Teams now begin to focus on registering squads and assembling rosters for early spring play.
This year's Meltdown Tournament fielded only a little more than 80 teams in the U-8 through men's Over-30 division. Keystone (Hollidaysburg Soccer Club) took the reins of the tournament from the Altoona Soccer Club when the club was no longer able to field enough volunteers to staff the tourney. This is a sad note, not only because it provided a major source of funding for the Altoona Soccer Club, but the tournament represented what the club was supposed to stand for, that being player development.
The Altoona Club definitely needs to strengthen its ranks at all levels. One of the scariest facts is that the Altoona Club has not been able to field any younger boys teams for travel play (U-10 and U-12) and only had one boys soccer team in all travel play last spring.
This should be a major concern for the Altoona Area High School boys coaches as the strong competition and player growth in the travel leagues will determine the strength of the boys high school team in the future. This is a special concern as Altoona loses all of the senior crew of players developed in coach Bruce Makin's travel team. A concerted effort must be made by the club and by the high school coaches to stir the interest of the younger boys teams as they hope to compete in the future.
The Altoona Club, however; is thriving with the girls teams fielding powerful squads at the younger U-10 and U-12 levels and placing junior high school and high school teams into travel play. It may be time for the Altoona Club to look for affiliations outside of the PA West Organization. Other soccer organizations may offer more assistance in player development and help inject a badly needed shot of life into the club.
n This year's indoor season at the Summit was perhaps the busiest of all seasons, and many legitimate teams were denied access due to the high numbers. The Summit truly has developed a monopoly on the indoor game.
The Summit demands that teams entered prior to deadline, which present an odd number of teams for the division, are scratched. In past years, the numbers were not nearly as huge, and the Summit league provided much more flexibility to the teams.
There are certainly enough vacant warehouses and large empty businesses within the city that any group of soccer enthusiasts should be able to lease space in any of these and construct simple walled indoor courts. One would have to think another league would not only provide needed competition but be able to produce a healthy revenue.
n Congratulations are in order to former Hollidaysburg soccer standout Kelli Michanowicz, who was named Westminster's rookie of the year.
Tom Schmitt's local soccer column appears monthly in the Mirror.