As Long Island soccer clubs continued to grow in size, they began to look for more competition outside their own club area. They began to send teams to other towns to face other clubs. From these first contests, the idea of travel teams evolved, providing a broader scope of competition than the traditional in-house leagues in each town. The need soon arose for some organization and scheduling of these games, and so the Long Island Junior Soccer League administration took over the task. Today there are over 1,600 teams playing in the LIJSL travel program, and the league schedules as many as 11,000 games between the Spring and Fall seasons. Remarkably enough, this does not include scheduling of tournaments.
Commitment is key on a travel team. Travel teams work hard to advance their skills and knowledge of the game. Playing other clubs travel teams makes for fun and provides a competitive atmosphere. Travel teams typically range from under-10 years old (U-10) through under-19 years old (U-19).
Travel team coaches go through an interview process after they submit their application indicating interest to coach a travel team. The board of directors interviews and selects the travel coaches.
Selected travel coaches hold tryouts typically in June to select players for their teams.
Travel players wear official travel uniforms with names & numbers on them. The numbers are coordinated by the travel coaches. A typical travel year consists of 8-10 games in the fall (depending on the size of the division) and 8-10 games in the spring. Many travel teams opt to obtain a trainer, whose fees are covered by the travel players separately from the registration fees. Most travel teams participate in tournaments and indoor leagues as well. However, each team can choose whether or not to participate in events outside their regular league games played in the fall and spring. Almost all West Islip travel teams participate in the Long Island Cup, which is played in the spring season. A few travel teams also participate in the state cup.
U10 & U11 travel teams typically play against other travel teams from Suffolk county. Teams start off playing in the U10 division, where the parent league, the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) groups teams together based on geographic location. After the first season, teams are grouped together in divisions based on their past performance. At the end of the season, the LIJSL determines which teams move up a division, and which teams move down a division in order to keep the competition level as close as possible. Over the years, as the league has more history on these teams, the division tend to get more and more even.