As the frigid temperatures of winter set in, the indoor soccer action in the area has begun to heat up.
Indoor soccer has always been popular in the region since it's inception, but the number of teams and players in all age groups have taken a jump in numbers.
The Summit Tennis and Athletic Club has always been a Mecca for indoor soccer action with its use of the fast paced blaster boards and small playing floor leading to almost a gladiator playing atmosphere.
The facility holds three indoor tournaments during the season and two full league sessions with age brackets including U-8s, U-10s, U-12s, U-14s, U-19s, over 20s and over 30s in both male and female brackets.
The small-walled courts make for extremely fast-paced action and physical style of play with the ball coming off the backboards in pin-ball style fashion at high speed.
December tournaments featured the Summit Classic with 91 teams taking part. In January, the Eagle Winter Challenge pulled in 107 teams from both in-state and out-of-state teams. The Penn State Altoona women's soccer team will run the Spring Meltdown Tournament in February to finalize the indoor tournament schedule.
According to Summit Soccer Director Mike Allieniello, the most recent tournament has had the most over 30 teams ever registered. Allieniello would like to add an over-40 bracket if he can register a few more players for that division.
In regular season league play, the second session of the year is currently under way. Many high school players miss the first session because their school teams are still involved in scholastic play.
Each session runs a six-week cycle with the final session ending on the weekend of March 7-9. Allianiello is looking to add a new twist to the indoor game. Games are played on Friday evening through Sunday. He is planning a spring adult league at the Summit starting the week of April 6 with all players being 18 and over.
The Hollidaysburg YMCA is running a Futsal soccer program for ages 12 and younger. It began Jan. 13 and will run to Feb. 23. Futsal, as opposed to the faster-paced blaster board indoor play, uses no walls and stresses ball control, decision making ability, footwork, improving first touch on the ball, technique and teamwork.
The league will look to stress fundamentals of the game as well as understanding the game. There will be a seven-game season with weekly practices. All rosters are limited to 10 players per team with games featuring six-on-six competition, including the goalkeeper.
The search continues for available fields for the spring soccer season.
The Altoona Club will look to the Altoona School District to play games on the Junior High School Field for Sunday club games as well as the use of Spring Run Stadium at Penn State Altoona Campus.
It is essential to lock down these additional fields for play in order to accommodate all home games on local teams schedules.
Additionally, the Altoona AYSO continues to fight to keep their fields intact at Valley View as the Valley View County nursing home may be sold in the near future and the playing opportunities of hundreds of youth players hang in the balance of being able to maintain these fields as there is no other facility large enough to accommodate this huge number of players.