The foundation of the Vikings Club is individual player development. We believe that having fun and developing as a player are inseparable and we promote a spirit of cooperation and competition. Our select teams foster the physical and mental development that is necessary to excel at soccer in a healthy, character-building environment that encourages each child to achieve his or her highest potential. Winning games is not the primary goal of the select program. Our mission is player development in a competitive arena.
Most recreational teams are based on social affinity groups such as schools or other similar communities. Recruiting and tryouts are not allowed for recreational teams. For these teams, soccer is generally offered as an extension of the social fabric of that group. Emphasis is often placed on keeping teams together year after year primarily for the benefit of those players who desire a physical activity with their primary social community, but who are often less committed to playing soccer at the highest levels of the sport. Talented players who are more committed to developing their soccer skills at a faster pace in order to play soccer at higher levels may find more challenge in playing on a select team with similarly committed and talented players where the potential exists for all of the players on the team to advance faster.
Like Vikings Club CCSL Prep teams, independent CCSL Prep teams can recruit players and select players based on tryouts. In contrast to independent CCSL Prep teams, which operate independently and are typically organized and run by each team’s coach and/or manager, Vikings Club CCSL Prep teams are run by the Club as part of an "academy" system, where Vikings Club travel teams and Vikings Club CCSL Prep teams in the same age group share the same coaching staff. The coaching staff uses the same developmental curriculum for all teams in the age group. Practice plans are developed by the senior head coach of the age group and are the same for the travel teams and the Upper House teams, which means that the Upper House teams are learning exactly what the travel teams are learning. In addition to separate practices for each individual team, collaborative practices are held where the Vikings Club CCSL Prep teams train with the Vikings Club travel teams. Collaborative practices give the Vikings Club CCSL Prep players an opportunity to train with and against the stronger travel team players, which enhances their development. The Vikings Club believes that its CCSL Prep program is a training ground for future travel team players. Players develop at different rates and players who do not make a travel team at a younger age can often surpass travel team players as they mature. The Vikings Club believes that its academy system enhances player development and provides better opportunities for advancement.
The Vikings Club is focused exclusively on player development. The Club, through the guidance of its Director of Coaching Tommy Alioto, has created an extensive coaching and player development curriculum to emphasize the mastery of important skills at each age group. Vikings Club coaches are required to achieve high levels of coach training and certification. Coaches are continually evaluated by the Club, not based on their record of wins and losses, but on their effectiveness in training and player development. Coaches collaborate to develop best practices, and receive ongoing training from the Club and through other programs and resources in order to continue to enhance their coaching skills.
While players who join the Vikings Club’s teams may be leaving their former soccer team, they continue to maintain the social relationships that were the basis of their former team and, importantly, they benefit from meeting and bonding with an entirely new circle of friends—friends from many parts of the city and from many schools. Expanding social horizons is an important part of the development of our players as people as they mature into middle school and high school students and young adults.
The Viking Club Red team is the strongest team in the age group, the White team is the second team and Black or Ivory team the third strongest team. All three teams have collaborative training and the White and Black/Ivory player development is overseen by the Red team head coach. White and Black players have the opportunity to guest play for the Red team. The Crimson teams play in the Vikings Recreational League and the Crimson teams have only one practice a week
While both travel teams and CCSL Prep teams are select teams—players selected based on tryouts—the Red travel teams, and some of the stronger White teams that have qualified for regional competition, play in a regional league—primarily the CYSA Cal Soccer League (CCSL)—while CCSL Prep teams and play in the local Vikings CCSP Prep league. CCSL Prep is also called "Upper House" because it is an "in house" league , meaning within Vikings League.
Travel teams play half of their league games at home in San Francisco with the other half being played in cities up and down the San Francisco Peninsula, possibly as far south as Monterey depending on their division. CCSL Prep teams play most of their league games in San Francisco and an occasional game in Marin or South San Francisco .
Travel teams generally participate in 3-5 tournaments per year while CCSL Prep teams typically participate in one to three tournaments at the most. Further, while Red travel team players have to earn their spots on the team each year based on tryouts and could be cut if the evaluators determine that more talented players are trying out for the team, the CCSL Prep players who meet their practice and game attendance commitments, and who are not disruptive to the group, either through behavior or lack of effort, will not be cut from the Vikings Club program, but they may be moved from a White team to a Black or Ivory team. For more information on commitment levels required, see below.
Being part of a travel team requires a significantly greater commitment of time and dedication on the part of the players, family members, coaches and volunteers compared to recreational soccer. The commitment is for a full year, from August to June. Travel teams practice two days per week from the beginning of August through early to mid-June and compete throughout that time frame. Travel teams play roughly half of their fall and spring league games outside of San Francisco with away games being in cities and towns along the Peninsula ranging from as close as San Bruno or Burlingame to as far as Santa Cruz or Monterey. Travel teams will also play in 3-5 tournaments per year in various Northern California locations ranging from Fresno to Sacramento to Redding. In the fall, which is the primary "competitive" season for travel team soccer, travel teams will play 9-10 league games and 2-3 tournaments (one or two of which might occur in August before the fall season begins). In the winter, travel teams play futsal (indoor 5v5 soccer on a basketball court), which includes 7-9 games played in gyms in San Francisco from January through mid to late March. Travel teams will also play one of the statewide outdoor tournaments (State Cup, Presidents Cup or Association Cup), which generally take place in the winter. In the spring, which is the "developmental" season for travel team soccer, travel teams will play 8-10 league games and some teams will play one spring tournament.
Fall and spring league games can be Saturdays or Sundays and occasionally teams will play games on both Saturday and Sunday. Tournaments are played over a weekend and involve two games on Saturday and one or two games on Sunday depending on whether the team advances to a championship or consolation game on Sunday afternoon. Futsal in the winter has traditionally been played on Sundays with occasional weeknight games.
Teams begin practice the first week in August and will continue through the middle of June before breaking for the balance of June and July. Teams practice twice per week throughout the year for one and a half to two hours per practice. Practice schedule accommodations are made to enable players to play for their middle school or high school teams during the winter or spring while being members of a Vikings Club team.
The Vikings Club recognizes that many soccer players, especially at the younger age groups, play multiple sports and have other extracurricular activities such as music, dancing and art. The following paragraphs provide a guideline for how a player should prioritize travel team soccer relative to other sports during the soccer year:
In the fall, which is the primary "competitive" season for travel team soccer, the Vikings Club expects players to make soccer their #1 extracurricular activity. The Vikings Club expects travel team players to make 90% of practices and games during this critical season.
Regardless of other commitments, travel team players are also expected to participate in the statewide tournament (State Cup, Presidents Cup or Association Cup), which generally takes place on one or more weekends in the winter, depending on how far the team advances.
In the winter, most travel team coaches, with outdoor rosters of 16-18 players, will form two futsal teams of 8-9 players each. These teams will require all of their players to play futsal in order to have enough players to field two teams. Teams that form two futsal teams will expect 80% or better attendance at practice and games throughout the futsal season. Some travel teams will elect to form only one futsal team, which enables some players to opt out of the winter futsal season, although players who opt out of futsal are still expected to attend 75% or more of the team’s winter practices. Whether a travel team forms one or two futsal teams is up to the individual discretion of the coach. Fall Vikings Club fees do not include futsal .
In the spring, which is considered to be a "developmental" season for travel teams, and is also the season that tends to have the most conflicts with other sports, the Vikings Club expects players to attend 75% or more of practices and games. Players are expected to manage their practice and game commitments with their other sports in order to make the 75% or better Spring commitment. When a Vikings Club soccer game conflicts with a practice in another sport, Vikings Club players are expected to play in the soccer game. Similarly, when a game in another sport conflicts with a Vikings Club practice, the game in the other sport takes priority. When a Vikings Club game conflicts with a game in another sport, players are expected to work with the coaches of both teams in order to ensure that each team will have enough players for that day’s game.
While the Vikings Club recognizes that many soccer players also play other sports, Vikings Club coaches and evaluators have the discretion to consider a player’s other commitments when making determinations regarding the final composition of the roster of a travel team.
The time commitment for players on Vikings Club CCSL Prep teams is significantly lower than for players on travel teams but is still significantly greater than the typical commitment required for recreational teams. Like recreational teams, CCSL Prep teams play most of their league games in San Francisco (with occasional travel to Marin or South San Francisco . Unlike recreational teams, however, Upper House teams do travel for tournaments. Most CCSL Prep teams play one to three tournaments per year, which is more than recreational teams, which typically do not play tournaments (although some recreational teams will play in recreational tournaments such as the CYSA Founders Cup), but less than travel teams, which will typically play in 3 to 5 tournaments.
Nearly all CCSL Prep teams play futsal in the winter; CCSL Prep futsal commitments are based on players’ desires. Some CCSL Prep teams have enough players who desire to play futsal to form two teams. Other CCSL Prep teams only have enough interested players to have one team. Some teams will not have enough interested players to form even a single team. In that case, CCSL Prep players who are interested in futsal may be invited to join one of the travel team futsal teams or an CCSL Prep futsal team in an older age group for the winter. Vikings Club fees include the futsal season whether the player plays futsal or not.
Like travel teams, CCSL Prep teams practice two days per week in the fall and spring while most recreational teams practice only one day per week. In the winter, some CCSL Prep teams will continue to practice two days per week while others will cut back to one day per week. CCSL Prep players are expected to make 80-85% of practices and games during the fall season and 70-75% of practices and games during the spring season. Players are also expected to make 70-75% of winter practices whether they are playing futsal or not.
For ages u8-u14, players who meet their ongoing season long practice and game attendance commitments, attend all practices during the week of a game, and arrive at a game at the time designated by the coach (most coaches expect players to arrive at games 45-60 minutes prior to game time), are guaranteed to play a minimum of 40-45% of each game. Coaches have the discretion to play a player less than 40-45% of the game if a player has not made the team’s practices, is late to the game, or is disruptive to the team either through behavior or lack of effort. In the case of behavior or effort questions, the coach is required to document the issues and speak to the parents about them. The Vikings Club’s playing time policy is in effect for all regular season and regular tournament bracket or consolation games. The Vikings Club’s playing time policy does not apply to regular tournament championship games or to any games in the statewide tournaments such as State Cup, Presidents Cup or Association Cup, where a coach may field players based on his or her assessment of the best approach to winning the games. The playing time policy is not enforced for ages u15-u19 , when coaches can carry a large roster and the program is more skill based than developmental.
The annual tuition for players currently is between $950 and $2500 , depending on the classification of the team.
The annual tuition covers general team expenses including coach compensation, league registration, referee fees and possibly some tournament registration depending on the classification of the team.
A $250-$350 non-refundable deposit is required upon accepting a position on a team. Approximately half of the balance will be due on May 15th with the remaining half due on October 15th. Yearlong fees may include coaching, league fees for two to three seasons (fall, futsal, and spring) and tournament registration for 1-3 tournaments. The fees are dependent on the classification level of the team. Families may have additional expenses for playing additional tournaments beyond the standard budget as well as for uniforms and other equipment.
Some financial assistance is available to those families who cannot afford to pay the full amount. Families receiving financial aid are expected to volunteer to support Vikings Club activities and fundraisers. Financial aid applications are due by April 1st and aid decisions will be made by May 1st.
Vikings Club tryouts for Red travel teams consist of at least two opportunities for prospective players to demonstrate their playing ability. While attendance at both tryout dates is not mandatory in order to be evaluated and considered for a team, coaches may consider attendance at both tryouts as a factor in the ultimate selection decisions. The more often players are seen by our coaches and evaluators, the more opportunities they will have to demonstrate their strengths as a player. Players who attend both tryouts have a natural advantage over those who attend only one simply because they are seen doing more things over a longer period of time. Vikings Club tryouts for White and Black Upper House teams consist of at least one opportunity for prospective players to demonstrate their playing ability. In addition, coaches may ask prospective players to attend one or more team practices to further evaluate the players at practice.
At the tryouts, players are challenged in a variety of situations, such as execution of technical skills, competitive 1v1 play, small-sided games and scrimmages. Players are evaluated at each age group by a group of Vikings Club coaches. Players are evaluated based on individual technical skills, team awareness/tactical skills, attitude and effort/desire, and a team’s need for players with specific competencies. For returning players, past performance in actual game situations or past effort in practices over the course of the fall and winter seasons is a critical factor in the evaluations. All evaluators of an age group provide their assessments of each player to the head coach of each team. Final discretion regarding composition of the team is given to the head coach. In addition to evaluating players based on skill, tactics, effort, past performance (if known) and team needs, the coach may consider a player’s availability to attend practices, games and tournaments in selecting players for a team.
Returning Vikings Club players must tryout each year. For travel teams, returning players are at risk of losing their spots on a travel team to new players who are assessed to have greater ability. Nevertheless, returning travel team players who have demonstrated their commitment to the Club through their record of practice and game attendance and effort are given priority over new players judged to be of equal ability. For Upper House teams, returning players who attend tryouts and who have met their practice and game attendance commitments, and who are not disruptive to the group, either through behavior or lack of effort, will not be cut from the Vikings Club program.
The selection decision will be made within two weeks of the last tryout date. The coach will notify the parents by e-mail or by phone if a player will or will not be offered a place on a Vikings Club team. The selection decisions are final, and parents are not allowed to contact the coaches to contest the decision if their child is not selected. If the parent believes that the selection decision was not made in conformity with Vikings Club policies, they may submit a written protest to the attention of the President within one week of receiving the decision.