Q&A ABOUT STRIKERS SOCCER TRYOUTS
1. General Information
Q: Who are the Strikers?
A: Oak Park-River Forest Strikers is a not-for-profit soccer club that has fielded youth
teams in competitive traveling leagues for the past 25 years.
Q: What teams do Strikers compete against?
A: We play in competitive traveling leagues against other club teams throughout Northern
Illinois: boys compete in the Northern Illinois Soccer League
(www.northernillinoissoccerleague.com) and girls compete in the Illinois Women’s
Soccer League (www.iwsl.com), both under the auspices of the Illinois Youth Soccer
Association (www.iysa.com). Our teams are seeded into divisions with other teams of
comparable ability, based on prior performance (and for boys’ teams, the results of an
annual seeding tournament held in August).
Q: Who coaches and trains the teams?
A: Most Strikers teams are trained (at practice) and coached (at games) by professional
soccer trainers from Pro Excel/Britannia Soccer. Many of these trainers played
professional or semipro soccer in England or Scotland; all are immersed in age-
appropriate teaching methods that have proved successful throughout the U.S. and
Europe. Their emphasis is on positive instruction and long-term development of quality
players and teams. A few Strikers teams receive training at practice from ProExcel
professionals and game coaching by licensed, experienced parent coaches.
Q: When do Strikers teams play their games?
A: Most games are played on Sunday afternoons, lasting 60 minutes for younger players
and up to 90 minutes for high school age players. Teams play a fall season from Labor
Day through early November, and a spring season from early April through early June.
Half of the games are played at home (various fields in Oak Park or at the University of
Illinois-Chicago) and half on the road.
Q: Do you travel to tournaments?
A: This varies by team, but typically a Strikers team will play in two tournaments per year.
Almost all tournaments are local, but some of our top teams will compete in regional
Boys teams are expected to participate in the NISL seeding tournament in Rockford each
August. If your son joins a team, please mark your calendar for this summer: Next
year’s U10, U11 and U12 boys teams play August 6-7, 2005, while U9, U13 and U14
boys play August 13-14, 2005.
2. Opportunities for Under-8 through High School Age Groups
Q: What age teams do you have?
A: Our boys and girls pre-high school age teams range from Under-9 through Under-14.
Next year’s Under-9 team will consist mostly of players who will be entering third grade
in the fall of 2005, while Under-10 will consist mostly of players going into fourth grade,
and so forth (see chart below for precise birthdate ranges).
Team Birthdate Is Between . . .
Under 9 Aug. 1, 1996-July 31, 1997
Under 10 Aug. 1, 1995-July 31, 1996
Under 11 Aug. 1, 1994-July 31, 1995
Under 12 Aug. 1, 1993-July 31, 1994
Under 13 Aug. 1, 1992-July 31, 1993
Under 14 Aug. 1, 1991-July-31, 1992
We also field boys and girls high school age teams. So as not to conflict with high school
soccer seasons, Strikers U15 through U19 girls’ teams compete in the fall only, and
Strikers boys’ high school age teams compete in the spring only.
Q: Are there any other playing opportunities for kids who are not rostered on a Strikers
A: Yes! The ACORN Academy for U8 through U11 boys and girls provides professional
skills training and scrimmaging for youth players. There are no tryouts. Please see our
website for more information (www.oprfstrikers.com).
3. Strikers’ Approach to Soccer
Q: What is the club’s basic philosophy about soccer?
A: Our goals are simple: (1) Have fun; (2) Develop high-quality soccer players,
emphasizing long-term development instead of the “win now” mentality favored by some
youth sports teams; (3) Compete against the highest level of competition we can.
Q: What do you mean by long-term development?
A: Our goal is not to have kids peak in soccer at age 10. If that were our goal, many
players would burn out and lose their love for the sport. Long-term development of
players is enhanced by teaching core soccer skills and tactics -- such as playing
possession soccer instead of “longball” or “kickball” -- at a young age. These skills may
not pay off right away in terms of wins and losses, but will definitely pay off as the
players mature into outstanding teenage soccer players (and, in some cases, beyond).
Two former Strikers are currently playing college soccer in Division I scholarship
programs, and three are playing for quality Division III teams.
4. General Tryout Information
Q: Why are tryouts necessary?
A: Due to extremely limited field space in our communities and other constraints, there are
only a limited number of roster spots available, and we believe the only fair way to fill
them is through open tryouts. In addition, IYSA and league rules require that we hold
annual, open tryouts.
Q: Are the tryouts really open to new players?
A: ABSOLUTELY YES! Teams form anew each year, and no spots are held for returning
players. The tryouts are run by highly skilled and impartial trainers from Pro
Excel/Britannia Soccer, and evaluations and decisions are made by these trainers. To
facilitate impartial evaluations, all players are identified at the tryouts by number, not by
Q: Why do all current players have to try out?
A: We appreciate the skill and dedication or our current Striker players, but the only way to
run a high-quality, fair program is to hold open tryouts where current Strikers, ACORN
Academy players and new players are all evaluated on the same field at the same time.
The club is committed to a truly open tryout process and, in any event, league rules
require open tryouts.
Q: Are kids from Oak Park and River Forest favored over players from Elmwood Park,
Berwyn and other communities?
A: No. The evaluators will not even know where players are from.
Q: How do tryouts work?
A: Basically, the kids play soccer in small-sided games. This is different from some tryouts
where evaluators use stopwatches and individual skill assessments. Such evaluations,
in our view, are of limited value in soccer which is a fluid, dynamic team sport.
Q: How should my child approach the tryout?
A: Don’t worry if you’re nervous; everyone is. Just approach the tryout as you would a
soccer game. Play hard, have fun, don’t worry if you make a mistake, just keep playing
Q: What are the evaluators looking for?
A: The core skills of a good soccer player: physical/athletic ability, technical soccer skills,
good decision-making in game situations, positive attitude, potential.
Q: My child hasn’t played traveling soccer before. Is it too late to start now?
A: No. We are looking for kids with athletic ability, positive attitude, and passion for soccer.
Different players develop at different times. We encourage anyone who truly loves
soccer to try out. The worst that could happen is that your child doesn’t make the team
– but can be proud that he or she made the effort.
5. AYSO and Other Soccer Programs
Q. How does Strikers relate to AYSO?
A. Strikers is not in competition with AYSO – just the opposite! The programs are
complementary. Many Striker players play both AYSO and traveling soccer, with our
enthusiastic support. Some players and families prefer to concentrate on AYSO only or
on Strikers only. The key is to find the right soccer program (or programs) for your child.
Q. How about other soccer programs?
A. All players are welcome at the Strikers tryouts, whether they have previously played
Park District soccer, AYSO, on another traveling team such as River Forest Rapids or
Elmwood Park Express, or have no experience.
6. Specific Information and Logistics for the Tryouts
Q: Where are the tryouts?
A: Oak Park-River Forest High School field on the south side of Lake Street, just east of
Q: When are the tryouts?
A. SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005 – For Pre-High School Ages
Time Team Birthdate Is Between . . .
8:45-10:15 Under 9 Boys & Girls Aug. 1, 1996-July 31, 1997
10:15-11:45 Under 10 Boys & Girls Aug. 1, 1995-July 31, 1996
11:45-1:15 Under 11 Boys & Girls Aug. 1, 1994-July 31, 1995
1:15-2:45 Under 12 Boys & Girls Aug. 1, 1993-July 31, 1994
2:45-4:15 Under 13 Boys & Girls Aug. 1, 1992-July 31, 1993
4:15-5:45 Under 14 Boys & Girls Aug. 1, 1991-July 31, 1992
SUNDAY, MAY 22, 4:45-7:30 pm – For Girls in or entering High School (U15
Boys High School age teams playing in Spring 2006 will have their tryouts at a later
date, probably in November, 2005.
Q: Can a parent just drop off a player at the tryout and leave?
A: No. A parent or guardian must stay with the player until the player has checked in. After
that, parents are free to leave.
Q: What should players wear to the tryout?
A: Shinguards and socks, soccer shoes with plastic/rubber cleats, shorts, T-shirt (not street
clothes). Also, bring a water bottle and soccer ball.
Q: The tryout form mentioned a pre-numbered, Navy Strikers T-shirt. Please explain.
A: All players are evaluated by player number on the back of their Navy Strikers T-shirt.
We will give you a free, numbered shirt at check-in if you are not already on a team; if
you are on a team you already have a T-shirt and you must wear it to tryouts. More
1) Current Striker players must write their Navy T-shirt number on the registration
form and must wear their numbered T-shirt to the tryout (or pay a $20 tryout fee
for a new T-shirt); and
2) New players will receive their Navy T-shirt at the tryout site – and can keep the
T-shirt, which is free if the registration form is mailed by May 7, 2005.
Use of these pre-numbered T-shirts helps ensure fair tryouts because players are
evaluated anonymously by number, not by name. Current players are required to wear
their pre-numbered Navy T-shirt to the tryout because it saves the club $2,000; the
savings are passed on to everyone in lower fees.
Q: Is there a fee for the tryout?
A: Tryouts are free for
1) Players not rostered on any current Striker team who mail their registration form
by May 7, 2005 (players will receive their free T-shirt at the tryout check-in).
2) Current Strikers who both (a) register by May 7th and (b) note their Navy T-shirt
number on the registration form and wear that T-shirt to the tryout.
There is a $20 fee for all others (please make check payable to OPRF Strikers). Players
who have not paid this fee at or before check-in will not be allowed to try out – parents,
please do not leave until your child has been checked in!
Q: What about rain?
A: Tryouts will be held in rain unless there is lightning. Please check our website,
http://www.oprfstrikers.com, for makeup date if your session is postponed due to
lightning. (If you cannot access the website, then contact us at email@example.com
Q: What if I cannot make the tryout?
A: Strikers cannot guarantee that alternate tryouts will be offered. In the event of illness,
injury or serious conflict (e.g., junior high state track meet), please contact us
immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-771-5269 and we will try to find a
Q. Are players permitted to “play up” on older-age teams?
A. Generally, this is not advisable at younger ages. Exceptional players age U11 and older
may play up on a year-older team if recommended by the Director of Soccer. If you are
interested in this option, please indicate on your tryout form and contact us at
email@example.com or 708-771-5269 in advance of the tryout.
7. Tryout Results and Registration
Q: How and when will we learn the results?
A: Results will be mailed approximately one week after tryouts.
Q: What happens after my child makes the team?
A: Mandatory registration for 2005-06 teams will take place on June 6, 2005 at the River
Forest Community Center at 8020 Madison, between and Gale & Thatcher. If you miss
the registration (or do not make alternative arrangements in advance), your spot will be
given to a player on the waiting list.
Q: How much does it cost to play Strikers?
A: Fees are $435 per season ($335 on parent-coached teams). The Strikers club is a non-
profit entity, and the fees are merely a pass-through of what it actually costs to field our
teams (training, insurance, field rental, equipment, league fees, administrative costs,
referees, etc.) Payment plans and financial assistance in cases of demonstrated need
are available (see our Financial Assistance Policy on our website,
www.oprfstrikers.com.) Please contact us if cost is an issue for you: we want all players
who qualify to be able to play, regardless of economic means.
8. Expectations of Players and Parents
Q: I consider soccer to be primarily a fall sport. Is Strikers for me?
A: We ask players to make a two-season (fall and spring) commitment to club soccer. We
believe the two-season commitment is important to the development of quality soccer
players. However, we will make reasonable efforts to accommodate conflicts. In
addition, some Striker teams compete in winter indoor leagues and most teams have a
weekly indoor skills program during the off-season of January through March.
Q: When are practices?
A: Most teams will practice twice a week for 90 minutes per session; some teams have a
third weekly session.
Q: What is expected of players at practice?
A: Players are expected to attend 100% of practices, on time and with a positive, team-first
attitude (except for illness or serious conflict cleared in advance). The trainers have a
specific, focused goal for each practice, and the progression of practices over the
course of a season will make every Striker who puts in the effort a much better player.
Q: What are the club’s expectations for parents?
A: We ask you to provide a positive, supporting environment for your child and his/her
team. This includes getting your child to all practices and games on time, with the
proper equipment (ball, water bottle, etc.), and cheering enthusiastically from the
sidelines during games. But don’t coach from the sidelines, please – let the team’s
coach do his or her job, and bring a lollipop if you need one! If you would like to
volunteer for additional jobs in the club, we would love to have your help. Please
contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.