Haverhill Youth Soccer is dedicated to the task of promoting and enhancing the culture of soccer in the city of Haverhill. Our Development and In-Town programs provide an opportunity for children to learn the game and develop soccer skills, while Travel teams play at an appropriate competitive level within the Essex County Youth Soccer Association. In order to assure fairness and continuity, this Travel Policy has been approved by the Board of Directors, and will be implemented by the Travel Directors.


The following abbreviations may be used in this document:

  • “HYS” is Haverhill Youth Soccer.

  • “Board” is the Board of Directors of HYS, which oversees HYS.

  • “TC” is the Travel Committee, which is a sub-committee appointed by the Board.

  • “TD” refers to one or all HYS Travel Directors, who implement this Travel Policy.

  • “ECYSA” refers to the Essex County Youth Soccer Association, the league in which all HYS Travel teams play in.

Travel Committee

The Travel Committee reviews the Travel program and makes recommendations to the Board. The goals of the TC are to insulate the Board from claims of conflict of interest and to unburden the Board from problems and conflicts unique to this area. It should also be recognized that the TC, and HYS generally, has the responsibility to act openly, fairly, and effectively upon every Travel situation that arises. The TC is not autonomous. HYS's Board has the final say over the operation and management of the program.

  • Duties - The duties of the TC include but are not limited to:

    • Making recommendations to the Board regarding the selection of head coaches for Travel teams.

    • Appointing a Lead Evaluator to oversee player assessments.

    • Providing guidance to the Board on coach and player disciplinary issues.

    • Handling any Travel issues that the Board requests help with.

    • Advising the Board as requested.

  • Make Up - The TC shall be comprised of four members plus two co-chairs from the Board which will be the Travel Director and Director of Soccer Development. If a TC member is also a Travel coach, they must recuse themselves from decisions pertaining to their team.

  • Nominations - All members of the TC must be Assistant Travel Directors, experienced Travel coaches or non-Board members who:

    • Are familiar with the highest level of Travel play.

    • Are aware of the coaching and playing situations unique to this level.

    • Will be able to provide sound advice to Board and act as an independent voice removed from some of the conflicts that can arise.

  • Meetings

    • Attendees - No sitting Board members, apart from the President and Assistant Travel Directors, shall attend any TC meeting, except at the request of the TC.

    • Voting procedures - The President shall sit as a non-voting member, however, in the event of a tie vote the President may cast the tie-breaking vote.

  • Removal of a Member - The Board reserves the right to remove any TC member who does not properly fulfill their duties and obligations at any time during their tenure. Removal will be by a majority vote of the Board after presentation and discussion of the issues causing the motion for removal.

Selection of Head Coaches

The TC recommends and the Board approves the head coach for all Travel teams. Applying for a coaching position does not guarantee a coaching assignment.

  • Application - Applicants interested in seeking a position as a Travel coach must apply in writing to the TC by June 1st preceding the fall season in which they hope to coach.

  • Qualifications - The TC will assess applicants on the following qualifications:

    • Personal qualities, including but not limited to: integrity, leadership, understanding, sensitivity, organization, ability to communicate, fairness, dedication, commitment, etc.

    • Recommendations of other coaches, Board members and parents.

    • Other factors deemed appropriate by the TC.

  • Recommendation - The TC will recommend each qualified candidate to the Board.

  • Approval - The Board has the option to approve or reject the TC's recommendation. To minimize conflict of interest, Board members who are candidates for a Travel coach position may not be present or participate in the discussion or voting for the coaching position for that team. If the Board rejects the TC's candidate, they may accept a candidate not recommended by the TC. This secondary candidate must have applied for the position. If no secondary candidate is available or qualified, the Board may ask that a new search be conducted for a suitable candidate, at the TC's discretion.

  • Notification - Upon final decision by the Board, the TD will communicate the outcome to the Travel coach applicants.

Expectations of Travel Coaches

All Travel coaches are subject to evaluation by TD, the TC, and the Board at all times. Coaching positions may be terminated at any time for any reason. The following are expectations of all Travel coaches:

  • Commitment - Coaches must make a commitment to their team for both the fall and spring seasons in a given soccer year.

  • Sportsmanship - Coaches must display the highest level of sportsmanship, fair play, and respect for their players, opponents, and officials at all times.

  • Licensing - Coaches will make reasonable efforts to improve their skills over time, and are encouraged to attend coaching education courses.

  • Regular Season Practices - Coaches may not start officially practicing more than two weeks before their first regular season game without prior approval of the TD.

  • Pre-season Practices - If a coach wishes to practice earlier than two weeks before the season, then he or she is required to get approval from the TD. The parents and players should be notified that the practices are optional.

  • Off-season Activities - Coaches may enter indoor leagues, offer clinics, or have practices over the winter. These activities are not under the supervision of HYS and are completely independent from HYS. HYS does not set terms or conditions for coaches involved with teams during the off-season other than to indicate that no off-season participation by a rostered player can be required as a prerequisite to continuing on the roster or in determining playing status during the seasons.

Renewal of Coaching Status

All Travel coaches are subject to the review of TD, the TC and Board at all times. Coaching status is not automatically renewed year to year.

  • Any person interested in applying for a Travel coaching position, even if already occupied, may do so by June 1st of the year preceding the fall season in which they hope to coach.

  • Incumbent Travel coaches need not apply unless they are notified by the TD that there is another application for their position.

  • If a TD deems it appropriate, he or she may bring a recommendation for not renewing a coach's status.

  • The TC will review the qualifications and performance of every coach every year.

  • The TC may request a meeting with a current Travel coach if there are concerns about the coach or team performance. The TC may decide not to renew a coach's position as coach of a Travel team.

  • The TC may seek additional applicants if there are no qualified candidates.

Removal of Travel Coaches

In the event that an issue arises with regard to a Travel coach during the season as a result of violating HYS guidelines, policies, behavior, or ECYSA rules then that coach may be sanctioned or removed during the season by the TC with Board approval.

  1. Notifying the TD - Issues may be brought to the TD directly by any member of the HYS community. Results of surveys may be considered notification that there may be an issue with a Travel coach.

  2. Investigation - Accusations of wrongdoing against Travel coaches will be investigated thoroughly with input sought from all knowledgeable parties including parents, players, league officials, referees and the coach themselves. The TD will initiate the investigation and serve as the liaison between parents, players, the TC, and the Board. Once the important details associated with the issue have been established and corroborated, the TD will present the details to the TC.

  3. TC Meeting - Once the TC has reviewed the details, it will offer the coach an opportunity to address the issue with the TC in a private meeting. Similarly, the parents, players, or league officials bringing the complaint will also be afforded the opportunity to meet privately with the TC to address their concerns. Once the TC has heard from both parties, it will discuss the matter privately and generate a recommended course of action to the Board. The TC may recommend no action, an admonishment, a more formal warning that includes explicit provisions and a period of probation for the coach, or dismissal.

  4. Board Meeting - The Board will consider the TC's recommendation and may either act on it directly or act in some other way that it deems in the interest of the players, the families, the coach and the organization. The parties may request an appearance at the Board meeting to have the Board hear their positions. The Board's course of action will be communicated to all parties and the matter will be closed.

Selection of Assistant Coaches

There must be a head coach for each Travel team. This individual will be responsible for all phases of team management. He or she will choose an assistant coach. The announcement of assistant coaches may not happen prior to the player placement notifications. Assistant coaches are also subject to the same terms, conditions, review, standards of behavior, and discipline which apply to the head coaches.

Player Assessments

The TC's goal with player assessments is to find those players who can have a positive impact during game situations and to place every player on a team with other players of similar individual abilities. The proper placement of players is critical to creating a positive soccer environment for every player. Technically proficient players who cannot perform in traffic or when under pressure should not be placed on top teams. In contrast, some players whose technical skills may not be as advanced as others, but whose athletic skills and understanding of the game is advanced, should be challenged in an optimal environment to develop technical skills and to help the team.

Procedure - Player assessments are intended to create an opportunity to evaluate player's abilities in game formats.

  • The TC will appoint a Lead Evaluator to oversee an assigned set of player assessments.

  • The Lead Evaluator will meet prior to the date of assessments with TD and all evaluators to review the process; provide information on how to evaluate players in an assessment environment and what to look for when evaluating players.

  • Evaluators should be licensed coaches with prior experience coaching a Travel team.

  • The ratio of evaluators to players should be 1:12.

  • Each player will be assigned a number to be worn so that the number is visible to make identification of individual players during assessments more efficient.

  • The Lead Evaluator will run the whole assessment process, including placing players in groups to play.

  • Players will play small-sided games for the entire assessment.

  • Depending on the age group and number of players and field space, the assessment will start with 4v4 games, move to 7v7 and get to 9v9/11v11, time permitting.

  • The evaluators will evaluate each player in each small-sided game.

  • Evaluations in each small-sided game will be made on a 4-point scale.

  • Scale: 4 = Excels, 3 = Above Average, 2 = Below Average, 1 = Deficient.

  • Within a week after the conclusion of the assessments, the Lead Evaluator will provide the TD with a solid 1-4 score for all the evaluated players.

Observation - TC members should observe assessments to help ensure fairness to all involved.

Attendance - Attendance is mandatory to be considered for a Travel team. Attending an assessment does not guarantee a player a position on a Travel team.

Excused Absences - A player will be permitted to miss an assessment for good cause (e.g. illness, injury, or unavoidable family obligation). In the event that a player cannot attend an assessment, an email must be sent to the TD indicating the reason for the absence prior to the assessment. If the TD finds the excuse acceptable, the player will be eligible for consideration by the Lead Evaluator.

Expectations of Players

HYS expects all its players to conduct themselves appropriately at all times on and off the field. Players are expected to attend practices and games or communicate to the coach when attendance is not possible. Because placing a player on a Travel team roster, by definition, prevents another player from making that team, there is an implied commitment for Travel players. As a result, the TC and Board have established formal expectations for Travel players.

Practices - Players are expected to participate in at least one of the two scheduled practices each week and be available to play in every game. Only compelling reasons will be considered acceptable excuses for not meeting this requirement. Compelling excuses are defined as situations that are beyond the player's control. For instance, an important family obligation or responsibility would be considered a compelling reason, but a club soccer commitment or practice for another sport would not.

Seasons - Players are expected to play both fall and spring seasons in a given soccer year to be eligible to play on a Travel team.

Off-season - Participation in off-season activities is entirely voluntary.

Tournaments - Participation in tournaments is recommended but not required.

Coach's Expectations - Coaches are free to communicate their own requirements and expectations for players prior to the selection process as long as they do not contradict those stated above. All coaches are expected to make their best effort to play each player a minimum of half of every game.

Removal of Players - Failure to meet these expectations may result in the player losing their place on the Travel team.

  • Players may be removed from a Travel team between seasons. The player must be notified by phone or in person by the Travel coach first; the parents will be personally notified and then the child in a mutually acceptable manner to the parents and to the coach. The Travel coach should be communicating with players during the season so that the final decision will not be a surprise. The TC will review and approve all removal requests.

  • Players may be suspended during a season for disciplinary reasons or for any conduct unbecoming of a HYS soccer player as determined by the coach. The TC will review and approve all suspension requests.

Player Placements

It is the intent of HYS to not deprive players of the opportunity to play soccer at the Travel level. A team cannot exist without a coach, however, so a head coach must be selected prior to the start of player assessments to assemble a Travel team.

Assembling Teams - TD will determine the number of teams that can be assembled based on the number of player registrations and selected head coaches. As many as possible dual grade teams will be assembled if there are enough registrations and available coaches to support them. The final number of teams for each dual grade and gender will be determined before the start of player assessments.

Rostering of Players - TD will assign players to teams based on the results of player assessments and assign coaches to those teams. The roster size for teams will depend on the number of registered players. At the request of the TD rosters may be brought to the maximum number allowed by ECYSA in order to ensure that the maximum number of players can participate.

Notification - All players attending assessment must be advised of their team assignment by means of an email notice no later than one week from the second assessment. No commitment can be made to any player prior to, during, or after the evaluations until the TD informs the players of their placement. Travel coaches should not discuss the team selection with players or parents until team placements have been communicated to the players. At no time should specific player evaluation rankings be discussed with players or parents although overall performance, needed improvements, and the child’s potential may be discussed with players and parents.

Movement Between Teams - It is possible that there is movement between teams prior to, during, or between seasons. It is up to the discretion of the affected team coaches and the TD.

Right of Appeal - If player selection is accomplished by the guidelines stated in this policy, appeals should be unwarranted. However, if a parent wishes to make an appeal, it must be done in writing to the TD stating the specified and objective reasons as to why their child should have been selected to a particular team. As with all TC decisions, the TC decision regarding the appeal is subject to Board approval.

Team Placement - TD will attempt to place teams in appropriately competitive divisions within ECYSA. ECYSA decisions regarding placement are final.

Policy Changes

Any changes to this policy will require affirmation by the Board.

Updated April 4, 2019