During the first couple of years that I coached at LMSC, the only indoor soccer available for our youth teams was when a
team from another club would invite us to play a game against them in an indoor gym that they had access to. A few clubs
would put together one day indoor tournaments in school gymnasium near their club. The goals that would be used were
either tape placed on the walls or hand crafted goals of some random size, designed to be carried in and out of the
gymnasium. There were only be a few indoor tournaments a year available for any particular age group. Our club had
no facilities for indoor practices so our travel teams did not do much during the winter months.
A high school indoor league was run in a gymnasium at Lower Merion High School, but that was only open to boys high
school teams. There were no opportunities for youth teams to play in the area.
In 1985, an indoor facility opened up in Northeast Philadelphia called Woodhaven Sports Centre. Woodhaven had two
indoor rinks for sports. One of their rinks was used primarily for indoor soccer and had a synthetic turf surface
with goals inlaid into the boards. The other field had a multi-sport surface and was used for indoor soccer, street
hockey and roller hockey.
Our travel teams quickly began signing up for indoor tournaments during the winter months at Woodhaven. Teams would
make the 40 minute trip up Route 95 to Woodhaven on a regular basis. Our teams would play against a lot of teams that
they did not see in the fall leagues since Woodhaven drew teams from Bucks County, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Woodhaven also had adult leagues which ran on weeknights. I played in Woodhaven's men's indoor leagues for about
10 years and have a lot of fantastic memories of playing up there. Woodhaven wound up being torn down in the early
2000s, a very sad event for many former LMSC players who played in many tournaments up there every winter.
In 1989, our state association, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, organized the first ever indoor state
cups. The Indoor State Cups became very popular for travel teams to play in since the top teams from all over the
state would enter the competition each year. Almost all of the indoor state cups in the first few years were held
at Woodhaven Sports Centre since it was about the only indoor facility around. In 1990, the LMSC Gorillas entered
the Under 13 Indoor State Cups which were played at Woodhaven. The team reached the finals of the competition.
EPYSA set every age group's schedule to have all championship games that year played later in the winter at Hershey
Park Arena. On the day of the championship games, the Gorillas drove all the way out to Hershey to play one 24 minute
game. In a tight contest, the Gorillas narrowly defeated Northampton 1-0 to win the indoor state championship, the
first indoor state title for an LMSC team.
From 1995 - 1998, LMSC rented the Parker Gymnasium at The Haverford School and ran a winter indoor program called Sports
Rink. We hired the Haverford School baseball team to put up a set of indoor boards in the gym to create a playing area
shaped like an ice hockey rink. This "rink" had to be put up every Friday night and taken down every Sunday night. We
formed leagues for our 5-10 year old players. All of the games were played on Saturdays and Sundays since the rink was
only assembled on weekends. The Sports Rink leagues were open to intramural players and travel players, regardless of
affiliation with LMSC. On Saturday evenings, we would run a travel team tournament, hosting a different age group
each weekend. This proved to be a huge success in terms of fun and player development. Unfortunately, Sports Rink
had to cease when The Haverford School tore down the ancient Parker Gymnasium and replaced it with a beautiful new
indoor sports facility.
In 1995, professional indoor soccer came to the Philadelphia area as the Philadelphia Kixx became an expansion team
in the Major Indoor Soccer League. The Kixx would be a hugely popular team in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Several LMSC travel teams got to play in Kixx sponsored indoor tournaments at the Spectrum, where the Kixx played
their home games.
At about the same time that Sports Rink ceased operations, a new indoor sports facility opened up in Wayne. This
new facility, known as Rocket Sports, would offer a wide range of soccer leagues for travel teams, high school teams
and adult teams. Rocket Sports also offered a very successful House League for intramural players in grades K - 12.
The owner of Rocket Sports, Charlie Dodds, coached in LMSC for several years and two of his sons played in our Travel
Team Program. His oldest son Nick now coaches a travel team in LMSC. Rocket Sports had two indoor rinks for winter
leagues. In 2002, Rocket Sports added a full sized outdoor field with lights and a turf playing surface to run outdoor
leagues in the warmer months. Having lights at the field enabled Rocket Sports to have games played until 11:00 PM at night.
Several years after Rocket Sports opened up, other indoor facilities would also open up. Long time LMSC coach Gabe
Betancourt opened up The Far Post in Oaks, PA, up near Limerick. The Far Post was the first indoor facility to
offer "touch line" soccer where there were sidelines instead of walls. Soccer played at The Far Post resembled
regular outdoor soccer a lot more than the soccer at the indoor facilities which used boards. In 1999, United Sports
Training Center (USTC) opened up in Downingtown. USTC has three indoor fields and 12 outdoor fields.
In 2009, Richy Graham purchased Rocket Sports, changed the name to YSC Sports and renovated the facility to include
three touch line indoor fields. YSC Sports was named the official youth soccer provider for the new Philadelphia Union
professional team which debuted in 2010. YSC Sports and the Union created the "Union Juniors" and "Union Academy" programs,
designed to develop the top local area youth players in Southeastern Pennsylvania. There would be no cost to players
selected for the Union Juniors or Union Academy programs. One of the very first players to graduate from the Union Academy
Program to the Philadelphia Union team was former LMSC player Jimmy McLaughlin. While playing for the Union Academy
program at the age of 17, Jimmy entered a Union game as a late substitute against Real Madrid, lining up against world
superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
As soccer continues to grow in the area, LMSC is now offering more and more training programs throughout the year.
Indoor soccer training programs are now offered during the winter months by LMSC at both Barrack Hebrew Academy's
gymnasium and The Starfinder Foundation in Manayunk. Almost all travel teams train at least once a week, indoors,
during the winter months in local area facilities. Also, most travel teams play in indoor soccer leagues or indoor
Futsal leagues during the winter. Futsal is a variation of regular soccer that is very popular during the winter
months in South America and Europe. The game uses a slightly smaller ball and is played on a gymnasium floor.
Futsal has recently become very popular in Southeastern PA. It will become an Olympic sport in the 2016 games in Brazil.