I've been nostalgic for my childhood lately and was remembering the way youth soccer used to be in Tri-Cities. My kids are too young to play now, so I can't compare and contrast, but here are my favorite things about the way things used to be:

  • The Patches - every year you played you received that year's patch. Each year was colored and designed a little differently. You sewed them onto your white shorts like Boy/Girl Scout badges.
  • The Uniforms - everyone wore white shorts. Your socks and shirt were for your city. Green was Kennewick, Red was Richland, Blue was Pasco, Light Blue was West Richland. If two teams from the same city played each other, the shirts were reversible. Kennewick and Richland were yellow inside. Pasco and West Richland were white.
  • The Cheer Squad - every team had a team mom who created a large felt banner for displaying at the games. The banner depicted your team name and a picture of your mascot. The banners varied in quality, but they were all beautiful pieces of art.
  • No Sunday Games - I know this was hard on Jewish and 7th Day Adventist kids, but it was so nice to play sports and not compromise your sabbath.
  • The Names - kids would choose their team name when the team was first organized, but then the name stuck for the life of the team. Kids were usually grouped by neighborhood, so as long as you lived in the same area you were on the same team. That meant each year the team rosters were pretty much the same and it felt like a professional league. I started on Lightening in Richland, then went to Nighthawks in Kennewick until I finished by "career" with the Tigers. I was temporarily with the Ghostballs.
  • Coaching - every year coaches went to special training to lead skill development. Teams usually practiced twice a week. Kids really developed a strong relationship with the coaches and their teammates. Everyone developed their skills because they had good instruction and practice.
  • Competitive teams didn't start until you were a teen - it seems like today anyone with talent is snatched up by a competitive league that requires dozens of hours of practice each week (and almost year-round). The cost is hundreds of dollars. Traveling long distances is required. The stress on kids and parents is ridiculous. If a kid doesn't show talent (maybe because he/she has never had a good coach) they're stuck on a free-for-all team where kids basically show up once a week and kick a ball around. This isn't true of everywhere, of course, but it's a growing trend in American soccer.

Do you have any old photos of the jerseys or the team banners? We'd love to share them on the website: