WHAT IS THE US YOUTH SOCCER NATIONAL LEAGUE?
The Great Lakes Conference is one of 13 conferences that fall under the scope of the National League and operate at a multistate level — providing high-level competition on a consistent basis at a targeted local level (New York West, Pennsylvania West, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Kentucky).
The Great Lakes Conference’s Premier I divisions offer its teams an opportunity to qualify for the 2024 US Youth Soccer (USYS) Midwest Regional Championships, which are held annually each summer. Premier I teams within the Great Lakes Conference can also qualify for National League Conference Playoffs, which provides teams with a chance to play cross-conference matches in a national setting with increased exposure to college, professional and national team scouts. The Premier II divisions of the conference offer more locally based travel in the conference and the opportunity to earn promotion to the Premier I division.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CONFERENCE PATHWAY
This guide will serve as an overview of the conference and should be read prior to applying to the conference. Once your team has been accepted, you should review the National League rules, conference operating procedures, and FAQ’s.
The seasonal calendar can be found HERE. Here you will find all important dates for the upcoming 2023-2024 seasonal year including (but not limited to) application dates, scheduling meeting deadlines, conference-hosted event dates, college showcase dates and must-be-available-to-play dates.
Any team looking to participate in the USYS Great Lakes Conference must understand the level of commitment it takes to participate in a league that stretches across eight different state associations. All teams understand that this is a multi-state league and that teams may travel hundreds of miles to participate in conference games. Teams understand that they may not play any true “home” games. A limited number of teams are accepted into the Great Lakes Conference, so it is important that each team makes the commitment to travel BEFORE applying to the conference.
AGE GROUPS OF COMPETITION
The 2023-24 USYS Great Lakes Conference will include the following boys and girls age groups:
|13 and Under (13U)||players born on January 1, 2011 or later|
|14 and Under (14U)||players born on January 1, 2010 or later|
|15 and Under (15U)||players born on January 1, 2009 or later|
|16 and Under (16U)||players born on January 1, 2008 or later|
|17 and Under (17U)||players born on January 1, 2007 or later|
|19 and Under (19U)||players born on January 1, 2005 or later|
The team entry fee to participate in the USYS Great Lakes Conference is $725 per team, per season (paid to USYS through your GotSport account) and is non-refundable if a team is accepted into the conference and later drops out. State Associations may have an additional fee, based on the state you are from. This fee will be included in your total at the time of application. The team fee does not include referee fees, which will be paid in accordance with the conference operating procedures. Team fees are paid directly to USYS through your GotSport account or mailed in by check. Payment details will be listed at the time of application. Your respective state association will be reimbursed by US Youth Soccer. Teams do not pay entry fees directly to their state association. Teams may also be required to pay additional event fees for conference-hosted events, which can be seen later in this document.
USYS Great Lakes Conference boundaries are for youth teams that are members of USYS State Associations of Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, New York West, Pennsylvania West, and West Virginia, although teams from outside these areas may also apply to participate. B13U-19U and G13U-14U teams from Michigan and Indiana may choose to play in either the Midwest Conference or the Great Lakes Conference based on their location, but once a conference is chosen, they must remain in that conference for subsequent years or start from the lowest tier. G15U through G19U teams from Michigan will play in the Midwest Conference in the fall due to conflicts with high school teams in the Great Lakes Conference. G15U through G19U from Indiana will play in the Great Lakes Conference in the spring due to conflicts with high school teams in the Midwest Conference. For Minnesota, G13U and G14U are expected to play in the Midwest Conference, while at G15U through G19U are expected to play in the Great Lakes Conference in the spring due to their high school soccer season conflicts in the fall season. Teams from PA West, NY West and West Virginia are encouraged to participate in the Great Lakes Conference but may choose to play in one of the other US Youth Soccer National Leagues, with written consent from the league manager.
SEASON OF PLAY
2023 FALL SEASON
Boys and girls 13U-14U competitions. The 14U competition during the 2023 Fall Season will feature Premier I and Premier II tiers of play with promotion and relegation between the tiers to determine the 2024 Spring Season placement of teams. As the 13U’s is the entry age group for the conferences, the state associations will rank teams for admission into the conferences. 13U teams will be grouped geographically in the fall season to determine the Premier I and Premier II divisions for the spring season.
Boys and girls 15U developmental competition. This age group generally features 8th and 9th graders. We will offer development play for the 15U age group. Teams interested in this competition which will not involve promotion or relegation but rather creating a competition platform for players born in 2008 that are in 8th grade while their 9th grade teammates are participating in high school soccer.
2024 SPRING SEASON
Boys and girls 13U and 14U competitions. The 13U-14U competition during the 2024 Spring season will feature Premier I and Premier II tiers of play (primarily based on the results of the 2023 Fall Season of play) with promotion and relegation between the tiers for the following soccer year.
Boys 15U through 19U competitions. Due to avoiding conflicts with high school soccer, the Great Lakes Conference will offer its 15U through 19U competition during the 2024 Spring season. Boy’s competitions in these age groups during the 2024 Spring season will feature Premier I and Premier II tiers of play with promotion and relegation between the premier divisions for the following soccer year.
Girls 15U through 19U competitions. Due to avoiding conflicts with high school soccer, the Great Lakes Conference will offer its 15U through 18/19U competition during the 2024 Spring season. Girl’s competitions in these age groups during the 2024 Spring season will feature Premier I and Premier II divisions of play with promotion and relegation between the premier division tiers for the following soccer year.
|Age||Group||Applications Open||Applications Close|
|13U and 14U||Boys and girls||On or around May 22, 2023||June 30, 2023|
|Developmental 15U||Boys||On or around May 22, 2023||June 30, 2023|
|15U – 19U||Boys and girls||On or around July 24, 2023||August 25, 2023|
|Developmental 15U||Girls||On or around July 24, 2023||August 25, 2023|
|13U and 14U||Boys and girls||On or around July 24, 2023||November 3, 2023|
SELECTION AND PLACEMENT
Following your application, USYS Great Lakes Conference will send your team information to your state association so they may review and suggest the application for review by the selection group. After state association suggestion, the USYS Great Lakes Conference selection group will review team applications and determine acceptance into the conference. In completing any application into the USYS Great Lakes Conference, teams are required to submit accurate information on team accomplishments. Misrepresentation of team accomplishments may result in the team being disqualified from conference participation. State approved team applications received from clubs returning from other leagues will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for suitable introduction to the conference at the discretion of the selection group and the league manager.
USYS Great Lakes Conference games will use a 3-man referee system. Each team is responsible for one-half of the total referee fees per game and payment is to be made in cash or a predetermined payment method* prior to each game as follows:
|Age Group||Total||Breakdown Per Official||Breakdown Per Team|
|13U and 14U||$170||$70 = Referee, $50 = Assistant Referee 1, $50 = Assistant Referee 2||$85|
|15U and 16U||$190||$80 = Referee, $55 = Assistant Referee 1, $55 = Assistant Referee 2||$95|
|17U and 19U||$210||$90 = Referee, $60 = Assistant Referee 1, $60 = Assistant Referee 2||$105|
Teams are responsible for contacting their relevant referee assignor to ensure match officials are present for their games. The team listed as the “Host” on the schedule takes on this responsibility. The full list of approved referee assignors can be found on the conference homepage.
*If hosting, pre-determined payments methods may ONLY be used if agreed upon by ALL teams and the approved referee assignor prior to scheduling such club hosted weekend or one-off game.
Teams may utilize thirty players during a season on a conference roster in accordance with National League rules. A maximum 22-player team roster with additional use of a club pass roster shall be utilized in all age groups. Club pass players may only come from within a team’s club, provided that the player is a US Youth Soccer member. All conference rosters shall be submitted to the league through the GotSport platform.
INFORMATION, RULES, AND CONFERENCE OPERATING PROCEDURES (COP’s)
Information, rules, and COPs on the USYS Great Lakes Conference may be found on the Great Lakes Conference website at: https://www.usysnationalleague.com/great-lakes-conference/
COACHING EDUCATION REQUIREMENT
Coaches of teams within the USYS Great Lakes Conference must achieve a level of coaching education in accordance with the conference operating procedures where all coaches within the team bench area during a game must have a minimum of a US Soccer “D” Coaching License or equivalent prior to the 2023-24 season including but not limited to a United Soccer Coaches Advanced National Diploma. If you have coaches on the coaching education pathway, this requirement may be waived only upon a written request to the league manager with documentation showing the coaching education pathway taken by the coach.
PERMISSION TO TRAVEL
Teams are not required to complete permission to travel permits/forms for games played outside of their state association as permission is automatically granted by state association approval of the team for USYS Great Lakes Conference play.
All competitions in every age group shall be round robin. There will be no end of season playoffs (unless otherwise stated). Based on the number of teams placed into subdivisions, teams may play a minimum of three games and up to a total of nine USYS Great Lakes Conference games during the season. USYS Great Lakes Conference teams are required to fulfill their commitment by playing out their entire conference schedule of games.
ADVANCEMENT TO REGIONALS
The Premier I champion (1) team from each age group and gender of the USYS Great Lakes Conference will qualify for 2024 Midwest Regional Championships in the same seasonal year as the USYS Great Lakes Conference. Specific allocations will be designated early in the spring season. To remain qualified for regionals, a team must also play in their state association’s State Cup competition. Please note that 13U and 14U regional qualifiers come from the spring season standings. Any team that achieves an automatic qualification slot to Regionals from the conference is expected to honor the commitment to participate in the Midwest Regional Competition. Failure to field a team in such Regional Competition will result in a $500 league fine.
QUALIFICATION INTO 2024-25 NATIONAL LEAGUE CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
Teams placed in the top tier of the conference in the Premier I division, will have opportunities to automatically qualify and compete within National League Conference Playoffs for the 2024-25 season. All automatic qualifiers come from the National League Conferences based on teams’ performances in the 2023-24 season. An application process will then be used to select teams to fill in any open slots. National League P.R.O information can be found HERE, for any other questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOCATION OF GAMES – HOSTING
There are three categories for hosting USYS Great Lakes Conference games:
USYS Great Lakes Conference Hosted Weekends. USYS Great Lakes Conference hosts games at multiple field locations. There will be additional costs to the teams for playing matches at USYS Great Lakes Conference hosted weekend sites, to cover the additional fees required for facility costs and safely staffing these events. The USYS Great Lakes Conference hosted weekends for the 2023 Fall season and the 2024 Spring season will be posted on the USYS Great Lakes Conference website.
One-Off Hosting. A team hosts a one-off game between itself and another team from within its division. Host bears all costs for hosting or if teams agree at the time of scheduling, the teams may share costs (usually for games played at a neutral location). Split costs must be agreed at the time of scheduling.
Group Hosting. A team hosts several teams over a weekend amongst teams from within its division. The host team bears all costs for hosting or if the teams agree at the time of scheduling, the teams may share costs (usually for games played at a neutral location). Split costs must be agreed at the time of scheduling.
MUST BE AVAILABLE TO PLAY WEEKENDS
|Fall 2023||September 9 -10||September 16-17||September 23 -24||September 30 – October 1|
|Spring 2024||April 20-21||April 27-28||May 4-5||May 11-12|
Teams are only excused from USYS Great Lakes Conference play on these weekends due to USYS State Cup conflicts. However, it is the responsibility of teams affected by their inability to play on “Must be available to play weekends” to be flexible in scheduling USYS Great Lakes Conference games on other weekends during the Fall season. A team’s requirement to be available to play on these USYS Great Lakes Conference weekends ceases once the division schedule is agreed to by the teams. The purpose of the “must be available to play weekends” is to ensure common play dates. USYS Great Lakes Conference allows flexibility in scheduling providing all teams in a division agree to scheduling flexibility.
CONFERENCE HOSTED WEEKENDS
Conference hosted weekend will take place on the following weekends:
|April 12 – 14, 2023||13U – 19U||Sandusky, OH||Sports Force Parks||Eight fields (turf)||$250 per team, 1 or 2 matches (3rd match an extra $100)|
|April 26 -28, 2024||13U-19U||Rockford, IL||Mercyhealth Sportscore II||Seven fields (turf) + grass||$200 per team, 1 or 2 matches (3rd match an extra $75)|
|May 10 – 12||15U-19U||Westfield, IN||Grand Park Campus||Seven fields (turf) + grass||$850 per team, 3 matches / 1 match per day|
GENERAL SCHEDULING INFORMATION
For 2023-24, all scheduling will be done remotely. Designated scheduling coordinators (DSC’s) may be appointed to each division once the brackets have been published. Full details will be provided prior to scheduling, for the scheduling deadlines, please view the conference calendar.
Teams participating in the USYS Great Lakes Conference must be available to play and schedule on the published conference dates. By submitting your team application, your team is committing to play and schedule on the published dates for the conference.
Teams should understand that due to the nature of scheduling of games for teams across multiple states, scheduling games for the benefit of a single coach who coaches multiple teams should not be expected. Time conflicts will occur for those coaches that coach multiple teams on USYS Great Lakes Conference weekends and within the USYS Great Lakes Conference. Other teams within the conference are under no obligation to assist these coaches with their conflicts. Once schedules are developed, schedule changes are permitted in accordance with USYS Great Lakes Conference scheduling policy.
COMMUNICATION FROM/WITH THE CONFERENCE
Email is the primary means of communication within the USYS Great Lakes Conference. The USYS Great Lakes Conference compiles team contact information based on each team’s application into the conference. It is the responsibility of the team to ensure the correct coach/manager is assigned to the team’s conference roster in GotSport at the time of the application to receive communications from the conference. If this changes at any time contacts must be updated immediately in GotSport to ensure all opposing team contacts and the conference staff can contact your team. It is important not to opt out of GotSport communications as that will lead to team officials not receiving important league communications.
Additional information will be posted, when available, on the conference home page. Information is subject to change so please always visit the conference website for the most up to date information. For more information on the USYS Great Lakes Conference please visit the website or contact the League Manager, Elliott Spruell at email@example.com.
Subject to change as of October 10, 2023