Select Soccer Information

What is select soccer?

“Select” soccer is soccer where players are placed on teams based on ability. This is usually through a tryout, but can also be by recruiting or by invitations. The key difference between “rec” and “select” soccer is in how individual players are grouped into teams. In recreational soccer here in Hillwood, as well as the other recreational clubs in Seattle Youth Soccer Association, the club registrar places the players on the teams. Players may ask to be on a particular team, but the registrar has the final say. In select soccer, the players are selected by the coaches, most often based on ability.

Another difference is that not all players who attend select soccer tryouts will be offered a spot on a team. Everyone who registers for rec soccer gets placed on a team, provided there are enough volunteer coaches available.

What is Hillwood’s stance regarding select soccer?

As a club, we offer only recreational programs. However, we are part of Seattle Youth Soccer Association, a part of Washington Youth Soccer. We support the select programs of those organizations. With the Seattle Youth Soccer Association, the designated select club is Seattle United. We partner with the other SYSA club in Shoreline — Shorelake Soccer Club — in supporting Shoreline-based players and teams that play under Seattle United. Some of them pay for Seattle United’s “citywide” teams (which draw players from both Seattle and Shoreline), but most play for the local arm called Seattle United/Shoreline. Some of us who are on the Hillwood board also serve on various boards and committees within Seattle United, supporting the organization and our local players and families. Members of the Shoreline board do the same.

What about other select programs other than Seattle United & Seattle United/Shoreline?

Generally speaking, we prefer to see our local playes and families participating in the select programs that are part of Seattle Youth Soccer Association and Washington Youth Soccer. However, under Washington Youth Soccer, while associations and clubs have defined territories that they serve, players have always been free to cross those boundaries and play with an organization that serves another territory. We know that Hillwood players have played for other clubs such as FC Edmonds, Northwest Nationals (a program in Mountlake Terrace) and others.

There are also select teams and organizations that aren’t affiliated with Hillwood/Seattle Youth Soccer Association/Washington Youth Soccer. They’re part of US Club Soccer, and play in a league called the PSPL. It’s a different organization, with a fundamentally different philosophy. Some of the clubs are for-profit operations or non-profits put together by entrepreneurs. The teams tend to be coached by individuals who find the structures of Washington Youth Soccer to not be to their liking. This is not to say the soccer experience they provide is bad. But our Hillwood club, as a part of Seattle Youth Soccer Association and Washington Youth Soccer, is not affiliated with and does not endorse them.

What leagues do select teams play in?

Seattle United/Shoreline teams play in the North Puget Sound League, and typically play away games in places such as Bellevue, Woodinville, Everett and Marysville. Occasionally a league has a team from as far away as Bellingham or Tacoma, or a game that involves a ferry ride across the Sound. Seattle United “citywide” teams play in the top Washington Youth Soccer league, the RCL, and while most teams are clustered in the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett/Bellevue/Redmond areas, there will likely be a game or two a season in Spokane, Vancouver or Bellingham.

Be sure and ask about the travel for any select team you are considering. It can vary by quite a bit.

Why play select soccer?

One of the most-often cited reasons is so that a player can make his or her high school team. Playing regularly against players who are equally or more talented (in raw athleticism and/or soccer skills) makes players better. Both Seattle United and Seattle United/Shoreline are part of the same “development pathway” for players that provides many, many opportunities for players to play against appropriate competition and improve. The NPSL league does a great job of providing appropriately competitive games with low travel commitment. The RCL league is where the top teams in the state compete. And teams in these leagues that are part of Washington Youth Soccer play in one of three “state cups” that provide multiple weeks of competition during the spring. Shorewood High School has been quite successful the last few years, and most of the players honed their skills in Washington Youth Soccer leagues.

We’ve had our recreational players make their high school teams, but it doesn’t happen that often. We’re not putting down recreational soccer – it’s what Hillwood Soccer Club is here to provide for our neighborhoods and community and we think the vast majority of kids are well-served by playing rec. We didn’t put this document together to steer players toward select soccer, but to give you information if you might be leaning that way.

What does select soccer cost?

More than rec! The “club fee” for Seattle United is $1,300 – $3,200 depending on age and level they play at. That covers league fees, fields for games and practices, referees, goalkeeper training and “club overhead”. It doesn’t cover uniform costs, and there also some “team costs” on top of the “club costs”. The “club overhead” pays for staff costs, office costs, equipment and programs offered that benefit all of the teams such as goalkeeper training. Recreational soccer costs much less partly because the season is shorter, but mainly because it’s largely a volunteer effort. Select soccer within Seattle United costs quite a bit more because the seasons are longer, the RCL plays both a fall and spring season at some ages and the teams practice more. Another reason is that as the prices go up, parents expect a certain amount of service for their money and the entire operation is run much more like a business. It’s a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board that approves the budget, steers the direction and takes a fiduciary duty on behalf of the membership. Volunteers from our recreational clubs also “steer the ship” for Seattle United/Shoreline.

Whenever anyone quotes you a price for select soccer, ask some questions. Does that cover uniforms? Tournament fees? State cup fees? Coaching fees, or fees for a hired trainer? Coach travel costs or other expenses? These are all typical costs that may or may not be included in the quoted “fee”.

Can rec coaches become select coaches? Can rec teams become select teams?

The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is a qualified yes, since it’s not realistic to think that an entire team of recreational players will be able to have success at the higher level. You’re encouraged to talk to the coaching director for Hillwood and Seattle United/Shoreline if you’re interested.

What is “premier” soccer?

Theoretically, it is a higher level of soccer than select. Within Washington Youth Soccer, there are 20 clubs, Seattle United being one, that are considered the top clubs in the state and the Seattle United citywide teams that play in the RCL league are often called “premier”. However, there are organizations both inside and outside of Washington Youth Soccer that use the word “premier” in their names or call themselves “premier”, but the level of play is often what most people equate with “select.” As a result, the “premier” label on a team, club or league isn’t a reliable indicator.

I’ve been approached by a coach or a parent inviting my son or daughter to play for or try out for a select team – how do I know if it’s the right thing for my child?

If you have any questions, contact a member of the Hillwood board and we’ll put you in touch with someone on the board who knows the select soccer landscape.

For more information check out the Seattle United site at: