2014B Thunder and 2014G Hustlers are the latest club teams to bear the HYSC crest entering their first season in the South Jersey Soccer Leagues.
Gloucester Township, New Jersey - Highland Youth Soccer Club's newest club teams, the 2014(Boys) Thunder and the 2014(Girls) Hustlers are off to a fast start this season in the South Jersey Soccer Leagues. Through the month of September both teams are undefeated, with the Thunder racking up 3 wins to the Hustler's 2.
Both teams include rosters of 2014 birth-year players who progressed through Highland's in-house programs from early ages and a few 2015 birth-year players whose multiple years of training in the club's in-house programs has prepared them to play up an age group in the 2014 division.
The first year transition to a larger field and the 7v7 format is a big one for most club players coming from the USSF recommended 4v4 small-sided play, as the implementation of modified laws of the game (such as offsides, throw-ins, and the build out line), the size of the field, and the speed of play often take a significant amount of time to get accustomed to.
A credit to the in-house coaching and training staff of both teams, a summer's worth of preparation and training has jumped the young teams ahead of the transition curve. First-time Highland coach and current HYSC player Samantha Freeman coaching the U8 Hustlers has her team starting to grasp difficult concepts such as shape and positioning while continuing to stress individual skill growth and fun. The results through the first 2 games of their fall 2021 season have been positive, with multiple different goal scorers contributing to the team's early success.
On the boys side, veteran coach of multiple HYSC teams in both the girls and boys divisions, James Mergenthal, has seen his U8 Thunder start the season off with similar success. The boys, mostly all graduates of the HYSC in-house program, spent 6 weeks training in the summer to refine their club-grown skillsets and have developed a strong team identity. The boys are using a combination of indvidual skill as well as good positional and possession play that are not often found in teams at a young age.
"The most surprising thing for me," say the coach "is how well they communicate with each other at such a young age. Keep in mind these are 6 and 7 year olds. During pauses they are often singing or goofing, but between the whistles it becomes about playing a team game." While it is a credit to the work the kids have put in and the in-house program development, something else may also be at play. "This is a community program. These kids all live in the township, go to the same schools. They are developing friendships at the same time they are learning how to accomplish things as a team, and they genuinely like each other. And they are building that around soccer, which is wonderful to see. It's why the program exists."
Club teams are formed in April of every calendar year for the upcoming seasonal year during annual open tryouts (the current seasonal year is Fall 2021/Spring 2022). For more information about the club (travel) teams and programs, or if your child is interested in joining the current 2014 club teams mentioned in this story for their spring season (Spring 2022), please visit the HYSC website club-program section.