“Ugh! Why do we have to play at 9am / 1pm / 4pm? ”
Setting the Saturday schedule is a very complex project involving a number of factors:
1. Number of players and teams: We have ~800 kids on 50 teams in 16 divisions playing on Saturdays.
2. Available fields: The school district allows us to use fields at Grafflin, WO, Bell, 7B and the High School. Some fields like Grafflin are only suited for younger age groups. The large fields are required for the older ages.
3. Inter-sport conflicts: We coordinate with the other town sports organizations so kids may play multiple sports. For instance last spring 3rd and 4th grade girls’ Softball plays from 1:00 – 2:30 so we make sure that our U10G division plays at a different time (and allow for some travel time between fields). In the spring we have conflicts with baseball, softball and lacrosse.
4. Coaching Conflicts: Coaches often volunteer to coach multiple teams, for example their U10 son and their U7 daughter. We will make every effort to accommodate these parents who give even more of their time to coach multiple teams. Five of the U7G coaches and four of the U7B coaches have conflicts with coaching their kids in other divisions. So for the teams playing at Grafflin alone we have 9 coaching conflicts. Across all divisions we are accommodating 22 coaching conflicts.
More coaches would mean fewer conflicts and a bit more flexibility, although we are still limited by the number of fields and different dimensions required by the different age groups.
5. School functions: For homecoming we lose all the HS fields for the day. WO has a Fall Festival and a staff barbecue. Bell has the Children’s Book Festival and a Craft Fair. During varsity football games we aren’t permitted to use the HS fields. All the displaced teams have to play somewhere, all while avoiding the inter sport conflicts and the multiple-team-coaching conflicts.
6. Other: HS sports taking fields with little/no notice, poor field maintenance requiring relocations, goal size requirements, trainer schedules, etc.
We have 800 kids on 50 teams in 16 divisions with about 125 coaches playing on 5 school fields all on the same day. We start at 8am and go until 5:30pm. Some people hate the mornings, some have music lessons, there are bar/bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, communions, nap times and dozens of other things that conflict with soccer that we simply cannot control. Everyone’s idea of a “good” time is different. We spend hours setting the schedule and we do the best we can.