The last two years has seen significant progress for the WHYFC girls program. The catalyst of this progress is the club's admission into the ECNL in 2018.
Now the club will expand its ECNL programming even further with the addition of the ECNL Regional League. This league will provide a more sophisticated and organized platform for the 2nd level of players in our club. But what does this mean? and why should you be excited? Common questions and answers below try to help understanding.
What exactly is the ECNL Regional League and what's the difference between the ECNL Regional League and the already existing ECNL National League?
WHYFC will be entering its third season in the ECNL, a national league considered by most as the country's top league for female players. WHYFC's top team's in each age group (U13-19) will continue to participate in the ECNL. This will not change. The addition of the ECNL Regional League is a result of WHYFC and other ECNL member clubs wanting and needing an improved experience for 2nd level teams. This thought originated from the fact that we, and other member clubs, have very good players throughout our girls program and it is important to provide the best experience we can to all of our players in all of the levels of the club. The ECNL Regional League will be a major step to accomplish this goal.
You say the ECNL Regional League will "Improve the experience for the 2nd level Hammerhead teams." HOW?
It starts with the group of clubs that will be part of this league. These include like-minded clubs who have the same goals and ambitions for the league. The Carolinas ECNL Regional League includes the most organized and professionally-run clubs in our area.
-NC Fusion (Greensboro, NC)
-South Carolina United (Columbia, SC)
-CESA (Greenville, SC)
-Wilmington Hammerheads (Wilmington, NC)
-Charlotte Independence (Charlotte, NC) - Will enter 2 teams into the ECNL Regional League
-NCFC (Raleigh, NC) - Will enter 2 teams into the ECNL Regional League
All clubs in the ENCL Regional League will be required to field one team per age group from U13-U18/19. This requirement allows for a clean and consistent schedule that keeps the entire club together as we participate in the league.
For clarity: When WHYFC plays Greensboro Fusion in the ECNL Regional League, there will be 6 games (U13-U19 age groups) on the same day at the same complex. This allows our coaching staff to stay connected and helps the players feel a part of something more than just a single individual team. One of our goals is to improve our club culture, and the ability to have a large portion of teams, players, and coaches who are working off of the same schedule provides an improved opportunity to do this.
So how does it improve the experience? In the past, WHYFC teams were isolated. They had their unique schedule that no one else had. They travelled to fields by themselves, parents felt disconnected, coaches felt disconnected, players felt disconnected and the experience was just about that individual team. This league brings our club together. The schedule is the same for all 90+ players in this program, they will watch other teams play, interact with other coaches, and begin to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves or their team.
What about Travel, Cost, and admin?
We believe this is another improvement to the current experience.
The organization of the league means all 6 teams (U13-19) are on the same schedule. This allows us to plan for this and consolidate all fees into a single payment/cost.
There are 8 teams in the league, WHYFC will play each team twice - once at home and once away (14 total games: 7 Home, 7 away). Each club will have a travel partner club and each weekend these travel partners will travel together to the 2 other member clubs/opponents. Teams will play 1 game on Saturday and 1 game on Sunday. This consistent schedule means the club can take the lead on administrative items that, in the past, were done by volunteer team managers. All scheduling will be done by the club/league. All fees will be bundled and collected by WHYFC. Families will pay one fee that will include everything: Referee fees, tournament fees, coaching fees, training fees, etc. The ECNL Regional League will have a professional web site that will track statistics, scheduling, etc. There will no longer be individual team fees in addition to club fees.
On the field: Competition, Coaching, etc
This league will be a huge challenge for our club. We are one of the smaller markets and smaller clubs in this league. We anticipate having games where we will struggle. This was the exact same situation when we joined the ECNL National League. What we believe and what has been shown, is that these struggles will improve our players, teams and coaches. We will be forced to improve, but our success in the first season should not and will not be measured just by results.
We intend to build a coaching staff that is more connected to the club than ever before. Practice schedules will be built to give opportunities for ECNL National League and ECNL Regional League team collaboration.
Many who will play on the ECNL Regional League may have ambitions to make the ECNL National League team. This is a good goal to have and we will make sure to monitor and give opportunities to players who are thriving in the Regional League.