After a busy childhood spent lacing up cleats, refueling on orange slices, sprinting on a muddy field, soccer players adapt from riding to practice with their moms to driving themselves to high school competitions. Soon after graduation, it’s time for college tryouts. Four years later, after playing teams across the country and receiving the royal college treatment, the game they spent their entire life devoted to seems like it is no longer right within their grasp. Life-long soccer players don’t need to let their passion diminish just because school is over; Austin is not just a town made for people who thrive in dog parks and lakes. It’s also a great city for sports, soccer included. For anybody that wants to return to the field for some stress-relieving competition, they can find plenty of opportunities with just a little bit of searching.
SoccerZone is an all-around perfect place for any soccer player, whether they are looking to play a quick game with a couple buddies or an official division with weekly games and practice. Located in Cedar Park, this facility can accommodate all soccer needs from experienced players to people who have never touched a soccer ball before. There are divisions for men, women, kids, those over 30 and also coed. A non member only needs to pay $10 for a drop in play on the big field and members pay just $5. The team fees for the 6v6 leagues range from $595 to $645 per season and the 3v3 leagues are a mere $250. Each division has a designated night to play and schedules are flexible so that dedicating time to the team is as easy as possible.
Soccer is not just a sport for dedication individuals, mind you. It’s also a great way for couples, best friends and roommates to bond. For couples and partners in need a little bit of fun outside of the normal family routine, the Austin Coed Soccer Assocation is beckoning. Join a division and work towards improving soccer skills together, while also getting in shape for the summer. If coed games are not your style, there are leagues just for men and women. On the AMSA and AWSL website, staff and new member information, as well as schedules, field locations and registration forms can be found. The only thing standing between a potential player and the soccer field is a few quick links and a registration form. Bert Haskell, a team member of AMSA over 40 Premier Division, came from an intense soccer background so when it came time to dedicate himself to his family and work, he knew incorporating soccer would be a challenge. “Time commitment was difficult when my children were very young, but it got easier once they got older,” he stated. For people that have a passion for soccer, it is possible to continue playing thanks to facilities like this. When it comes to soccer, Haskell is very serious about dedicating time to his division. “Make it a priority. Everyone that knows me well knows I play soccer Wednesday evenings and Sundays,” he stated. Priority is definitely a key to continuing a soccer passion out of high school and dedication is needed for anybody that wants to devote themselves to a team.
When it comes to individuals who have a deep passion for soccer, the Austin Aztex really represent. As difficult as it can be to manage school, jobs and a hectic outside life, the team has prominently developed effective time management skills and, as a result, have earned their wins. Zach Pope, team member of the Austin Aztex, said that if you want to join a team like the Aztex, you have to be completely ready for it. “Just make sure you’re mentally prepared. A lot of guys have the skill set to do so but don’t understand the difference from being a collegiate athlete to being a professional. The mental aspect is the biggest thing. Don’t go into it being naïve; know what you’re getting into,” said Pope. Many young adults looking for a league to join may already know what to expect and how to transition from college ball to a team such as the Aztex. Another factor that those players need to take into consideration is the age group they want to play with and against. “For the most part, the guys are all in college. The majority age is around 20 years old. There are a couple older guys that are local players that act as mentors, though. It all balances out,” he stated. Though Pope grew up in Austin and is familiar with the competition, he regards the Aztex as a tough team to beat. “The competition is even better than college soccer just because you have a whole mixture of players outside of college. If you were to compare it to college, it would be a high level D1. [The team] helps out the college kids because they now have something to do during the summer,” stated Pope.
What about the people that just want to get outside this summer and have some fun under the Texas sun while still getting some exercise? Weekends spent at Zilker Park are great for all activities from running, picnicking, biking and even pick-up soccer games. These informal games provide the opportunity for players to come out and perfect their skills, help teach others how to play, and create games that are played solely for fun and a good time. Zilker Park provides the perfect area to learn how to play the beautiful game of soccer and spend some quality time with buddies, family or even new friends. For those that are tech-savvy, there’s a Twitter Account dedicated to soccer games going on in ATX.
Follow @pickupsocceratx to get information and notifications about local games that are going on at Zilker Park and other areas hosting games. Still eager for more? Go online to www.meetup.com and search “soccer” in Austin, TX. Groups will schedule events and games for fans alike to get together and play a little friendly soccer on any given day. These informal games are a great way to get introduced to the game for those that haven’t played before.
With a little bit of searching, prioritizing and dedication, anybody can play the beautiful sport of soccer. Austin’s facilities and parks have plenty of options for all different levels of experience so that there are no excuses to not pick up a ball and get out on the field!