Michelle Romero – Director of Operations for the Southern California Developmental Soccer League – Talks about the New SCDSL Discovery Division
Michelle Romero gives SoccerToday her take on the importance of diversity, the creation of the SCDSL, and their new initiative – the Discovery Division.
When I was in second grade I won a district-wide coloring competition for coloring inside the lines better than anyone else in second grade.
Imagine the sense of accomplishment I felt for winning that award and for being so good at staying inside the lines and meeting the expectations of those that believed that staying inside the lines and conforming are the best way to adapt to life.
Now, here I am, decades later and I’ve come to realize that I did it all wrong.
How original would that have been? How unexpected would it have been to those trying to show me, as a young impressionable second grader how to conform rather than be different?
I should have colored everything OUTSIDE the lines.
In my lifetime the changes we have seen are because of people who decided to color outside the lines. How far have we come in technology and innovation because of those who did things differently? There are so many wonderful things in the world today because of those who made the decision to be different.
My point to all of this is that being different is good.
The SCDSL started in 2012 because the DOC’s from the top clubs in Southern California wanted something different. They decided to stop conforming and to color outside the lines. In youth soccer, things had been the same for so long. No one knew anything other than the same model year after year and there there didn’t seem to be a need for anything different.
Related Article: Southern California Developmental Soccer League
Then, along came the Boys DA, then Girls ECNL and suddenly things were changing and it wasn’t comfortable. Gaming circuits nation-wide were feeling the pinch and fighting to maintain their grasp on the clubs that were the foundation of their success. Many of these gaming circuits had an “all or nothing” approach towards their members.
That proved to be a crucial mistake in the landscape of youth soccer nationally. New leagues were created and sanctioning bodies extended their outreach in to other geographical areas. In Southern California, something different was needed and thus, the SCDSL was created.
The SCDSL is a soccer league run by soccer people.
Developmentally, the format allows the younger players the freedom to be creative and work on technical skills without the fear of doing something wrong and losing a game.
The wins and losses don’t matter in those ages. Skills, creativity and placing an emphasis on the love of the game is what is important. There is no promotion/relegation.
Clubs are given the ability to self-flight their teams. In the younger age groups scores and standings are not kept and in the middle ages groups scores are posted but no standings are kept. Initially, we had showcases in the younger age groups so teams from the north could play teams from the south in head-to-head competition.
In 2015 we added playoffs for the older age groups to give meaning to their league games and to provide them with an exciting end of season event. With just shy of 800 teams in the first year to just over 2000 teams this past 2017 season we have made it our goal to adjust, adapt and change as needed.
With the role-out of the US Soccer initiatives, the SCDSL leadership decided to implement those initiatives sooner rather than later – to give the players a chance to adjust and be a step ahead of the competition when the initiatives became mandated.
Since the inception of the SCDSL, we have been committed to making changes that are in the best interest of the players.
We know that a model that is the same year-after-year is not sustainable in today’s market. After relatively little change in youth soccer for 20+ years, change has become more the norm than the exception and the leagues must change and adapt to provide the best possible product to its members.
To this point, the SCDSL is changing again. With the addition of the Discovery Division the league is now raising the bar in Southern California. The league has the field resources, the support of its membership and the financial commitment from the board to make the Discovery Division the pinnacle of competition in the Southern California market.
Rolling out for the 2018 season and including birth years 2005 and older, teams from SCDSL member clubs, will apply during open enrollment for this division. A review committee that is assembled of directors, selected by their peers, that are knowledgeable on the boys or girls teams will review the applications and will select the 12 best teams in each of these older birth years to compete in the Discovery Division of the SCDSL.
The benefits of playing in the Discovery Division are:
- Teams will play an 11-game fall season.
- Games will all be played at Silverlakes in Norco — unless teams from the same area like San Diego are scheduled to play each other in which case games will be played at the Surf Cup Sports Park in Del Mar.
- All fall test dates are accommodated.
- Referee fees will be covered by the league for this division.
- 1st and 2nd place of each division will receive a tournament stipend of $1400 from the SCDSL to participate in the tournament of their choice after the end of the SCDSL season. This means that 20 teams from the SCDSL will receive a stipend to assist them in after-league competition to further their college exposure.
- Winners will receive guaranteed acceptance into Surf Cup.
- There will be end of season awards voted on by coaches in each game via a nomination process.
- There will be the option to have games video taped.
- Convenient scheduling with games being played youngest to oldest similar to DA and ECNL formats.
- A designated onsite social media presence and a division specific statistician on site for all game days.
- There will also be a spring College Showcase for the Discovery Division paid for, and hosted, by the SCDSL. There is no fee for this. Teams from outside of SoCal will be invited, college coaches will be invited and the DOC’s are all committed to making this an exceptional event for the players towards their goals of playing college soccer.
This is a monumental offering for a local gaming circuit as we strive to set the standards for those willing to be different.
With the field resources, support from our DOC’s and financial support from the Board of Directors, the Discovery Division will be unlike any other division in Southern California and, most likely, unlike any other localized gaming circuit offering in the country. We want to be able to offer our local teams something similar to what teams playing on a national level are experiencing.
Not every player can afford to play in national leagues.
Not every player lives in an area where those national leagues are available so we believe it’s up to us, as an organization, to offer a pathway for everyone.
There are so many things going on in youth soccer today but rather than focus on the things we can not change, the SCDSL believes it’s time to shake things up again in Southern California and to go back to coloring outside the lines since that’s how the league began in the first place.
Complacency isn’t our model. Innovation, adaptation and leading the way by providing more for our members is what the SCDSL is about. To encourage different we must be different and, to that end, I think we are headed in the right direction!
Michelle spoke with the Technical Committee member and DOC of Crescenta Valley SC, Reggie Rivas, Technical Committee member and DOC of Crescenta Valley SC.
“I am extremely proud of the SCDSL as we introduce the Discovery Division for the 2018 season. This is a fantastic opportunity for our players to compete and develop at the highest level. No other league in Southern California can provide this opportunity,” said Rivas.
“SCDSL provides an opportunity for all of our players to develop and build confidence each and every year.”
“I personally enjoy seeing the Director’s of their respective clubs come together and focus on the developmental pathway for our players not only in our league but, in Southern California as a whole,” said Rivas.
Dave Sabet, Director of Coaching for FC Premier, said, “The Discovery Division is one of the most advanced examples of dedication to competition in youth soccer today.”
“Athletes, by nature, need to understand what they are working towards, to have a vision of the highest level of accomplishment they can obtain; this the driving force behind why they compete,” said Sabet. “The SCDSL has studied this concept in detail, which is why they want to introduce new opportunities for their athletes: to give them the experience of competition at the highest level.”
I find that the most appropriate term for describing an athletes journey is “discovery”
SoCal Blues’ Robbie Mulligan is enthusiastic on this new opportunity for players and said, “The Discovery Division is the first steps in a bigger process to offer all SCDSL members the opportunity to play in the best environment possible. Regardless of the leagues out there, the SCDSL will continue to improve our league both on and off the field for the better of all players and teams, not just a select few.”
SCDSL Information: New club applications are now being accepted for the SCDSL. please Email Nancy for an application if you are interested.
If you have any questions about the Discovery Division or participating in the SCDSL, please email Michelle Romero.