A Reston soccer team is going to Canada.
A Chantilly team is heading for Colorado.
Annandale and McLean teams have played all over the world.
Springfield and Braddock Road soccer clubs sponsored tournaments over Memorial Day weekend that included teams from all over the United States, Canada and England.
That may sound like an exciting, and grueling, schedule, but for the National Capital Soccer League, it's the name of the game.
In local youth soccer, there are two main divisions: Select, or travel, teams; houses, or community, teams. And in soccer circles, the toughest competition is in the traveling division, governed in this area by the National Capital League.
This year, about 5,500 of the 30,000 youth soccer participants between the ages of six and 18 in Nothern Virginia are on traveling teams, according to Joanne Palmer, National Capital League coordinator. And if you were wondering about the popularity of soccer, the explosion in the number of traveling teams should put any doubts to rest.
"We had 184 travel teams last fall (1980)," Palmer says, "and we have 315 this spring. These teams consist of kids -- and parents -- who are willing to travel."
The commitment to traveling means, quite simply, a commitment to soccer. Many travel teams practice year-around, moving inside to gymnasiums when the winter weather freezes the fields. Weekend tournaments, such as those over Memorial Day weekend, can mean three to six games in two to three days. A tournament or two, plus regular season competition and scrimmages, can mean 50 games or more in a year.
Travel team players must try out for coaches before every fall and spring season, so players face the possibility of being cut regardless of how many years they have played. And the pressure during games, tryouts and tournaments can be among the most intense of all youth sports, Palmer says.
"Sometimes I think I agree with Gordon Bradley (former coach of the Washington Diplomats) that some of these kids are awfully young to be sent around the Beltway and farther to play soccer," Palmer says. "But the parents don't feel that way. They want this, so I figure it's best to try and keep some control on it."
Parents, according to league officals, may support travel teams partly to satisfy themselves, but also because they produce skilled soccer players.
"Sure, there are problems caused by a few crazy parents," Palmer admits. "They lie on registration forms and some coaches will play games with their rosters. There are parents who will push the 'superstar' kid.
"When you dangle as Orange Bowl (a major soccer tournament in Miami) or a Robbie Cup (a major Canadian tournament) in front of some people, it makes them crazy. Naturally, I don't like that. And it's important to remember that most parents aren't that way.
"When I go out and see the little ones -- the 8- and 9-year-old play and enjoy themselves, I feel it's all worth while."