When it comes to describing the adult leagues at McKinney Soccer Association (MSA), one word that comes to mind is community. This is evident in the minimal team turnover rate, but also the dedication and involvement of MSA board members.
For starters, Adult Commissioner Gary Smith can be seen every Sunday night at the fields making sure everything runs smoothly. After playing in the Over 30 Coed league for a number of years, MSA President John Long hung his cleats up a couple years ago, but he is still very involved as one of the referees. Michael Bruner, who is the Vice President of Operations, plays goalkeeper for one of the teams competing in the Open league, while officiating Over 30 matches on the same night.
“We have about ten referees who play in one league and officiate in the other. Most of them are on my team,” Bruner said with a laugh.
“There used to be a restaurant right next to the fields and on any given Sunday night you could go into it and see five or six teams sitting at the bar.” Long added.
The McKinney Adult Soccer League began with five teams in 2009 and was called Social Sunday Soccer. Long still has his jersey from the inaugural season. One of the participants was Chad Deering, who competed with the U.S. National Team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. While Deering is no longer a member, all five of those teams are still playing in the upcoming season, albeit with a couple different players. The MASL now features over 20 teams and offers both Open Coed and Open Over 30 Coed play. One thing MSA has prided itself on is amount of teams that continue to sign up each season.
“After eight years, one thing we have noticed is when teams come in, they stick. Of the 21 or 22 teams we have each season,” 18 or 19 are teams that have played with us in the past.” Bruner said. “Our league that is the biggest grower is the Over 30 league.”
The Over 30 league was split into an “A” and “B” division last season as the league continues to grow. The three members expressed interest in creating a men’s league, but the past numbers for registration didn’t justify adding the division. One of the key differences the MASL has when it comes to rules, is that teams are only required to play four girls on the field.
“It is a struggle to find female players,” Smith said. “We have a waiting list of 24 guys trying to find a team, but no females. We could make a couple of new teams just with the amount of guys we have on the waiting list.”
While Smith can be found every Sunday evening, so can a trainer. After the beginning of the league, one was added for every Sunday evening almost immediately.
“We’re old, so people get hurt. It happens almost every night in the adult league, especially in the first couple games when some people haven’t played in 10 years and come out full speed,” Long said.
“We always have one out there for the youth games, and we noticed pretty quickly we needed one for the adult games as well,” Smith added.
The addition of the MASL has created a domino effect that resulted in adult divisions being added to McKinney Fall and Spring Classics. The 2017 McKinney Spring Classic featured Dallas Sidekicks Legend Tatu, while the 2017 Fall Spring Classic had a team from San Antonio win the Open division.
“We added five dollars to the entry fee for every team, and that allowed us to give the first place team in each division a free entry to the tournament,” Smith said. “It allows for us to have some version of a play-off.”
“It adds a little extra incentive for those in MASL.” Bruner added.
There are a variety of adult leagues in North Texas Soccer, and you can find all of them here. Bruner explains that the MASL isn’t looking to compete with some of the more competitive leagues, but rather provide a more social, even-keeled experience.
“We like to keep things spirited, but we aren’t looking to compete with some of the other leagues that have a little more competitive play,” Bruner said. “We are by nature a rec league, which features an adult league.”