Parkland Area Soccer Club going strong after 11 years
It's no secret the amount of success that the Parkland boys and girls soccer teams have had over the years.
But what might not be as evident is the path some of those athletes took to get to the high school level.
The Parkland Area Soccer Club, which has been around over a decade, fields teams for in-house, recreational and travel programs. Those squads range in the age group from five years old all the way up until 19 years of age. It's those programs that have helped the high school teams reach the heights they have over the years.
"Back when it started, it was one of the only clubs so we had 1,100 members," PSAC Secretary Glenn Strause said. "Over the years that has diminished a little bit, but we're still well over 800 families. The amount of teams that we field every year is growing again. We field over 80 teams a year."
Players competing in the recreational program pay $65, whereas year-round travel programs cost around $200 in the PASC. It's an affordable price for those with an interest in club soccer.
Interested athletes participate in the in-house program, which fields players up until eights years of age. After years of learning the basics and fundamentals of soccer, those athletes may advance into the recreational and travel leagues.
Recreational teams are for players between the ages of 10 to 19, yet there are no tryouts for these teams. On the other hand, the travel teams are a bit more competitive in nature, and squads play others from three different leagues, such as the LVYSL (Lehigh Valley Youth Soccer League), PAGS (Philadelphia Area Girls Soccer) and DELCO.
"We're spread out pretty far," Strause said. "We're always doing tournaments, and depending on which league they're in, they're traveling around doing tournaments all of the time.
"Some of our older girls teams, Parkland Extreme and Parkland Pride, they're traveling down to Virginia for tournaments and everything. We're not just staying in our own backyard."
A number of boys and girls teams have won tournaments across all three programs this season.
While a number of players eventually play at the high school ranks, some also play club soccer for Lehigh Valley United, one of the more popular club teams in the area.
"If you take a look at some of the players that did well at Parkland High School, some of them came from us," Strause said. "We have no problem feeding LVU, too. We feed some of our players over to LVU for another level of competition. When they're ready for that, that's where they go."
One of the biggest advantages the clubs get to experience is the interaction with both high school coaches.
"He [Parkland girls head coach Al Haddad] actually comes and works with some of our teams," Strause said. "He'll work with some of the girls at different levels in the offseason.
"[PHS Boys head coach] Patrick Birns is our director of coaching. He is in our club. There is a direct connection there in so many different ways."
Strauss also wanted to express that the club is open to other athletes outside the Parkland area.
"We have kids coming from Allentown and Northwestern Lehigh," Strause said. "We have kids from all over the place that are playing in our club. We try to stress that, and people get confused and think that we're only Parkland because it's in our name."
Now in its 11th year, Strause only sees a bright future for the PASC.
"We don't plan on stopping, either," Strause said. "We plan on staying a soccer-only club. There are a lot of clubs that do other sports and focus on that. We focus strictly on soccer and that is it."