With a sizable jump in teams from last year, the 37th Annual WAGS Rael Vodicka Memorial Tournament this weekend is bigger and better than ever, and it has two new partners to add to what has already been a premier girls showcase event.
The tournament, which takes place in the Washington, D.C. suburbs every Columbus Day weekend, has partnered with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, becoming the fourth tournament in its showcase series, and is now being carried off by NSCAA’s events partner, Elite Tournaments.
“We’re so excited about joining with NSCAA and Elite Tournaments,” said Washington Area Girls Soccer League president Kathie Diapoulis. “Our tournament has been a great event for more than three decades, but with their expertise, this partnership will take us to the next level and make it a can’t-miss destination for the nation’s best teams.”
College coaches from more than 90 programs across the country will be at this weekend’s showcase scouting for some of the top girls’ soccer talent and will have the chance to take part in NSCAA educational courses after matches are complete.
The field, set at 366 teams from the Under-11 through U-19 age groups, is nearly 100 more than last year, and features teams from 16 states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, as well as Canada. The tournament matches will take place at 20 locations spread across the Northern Virginia landscape. Games begin Saturday morning and continue through the finals Monday afternoon.
“We’ve got a bunch of really nice fields to play on and we expanded the teams and the areas the teams are coming from,” Diapoulis said. “The level of competition has risen this year.”
Due to the voluminous number of applications for this year’s tournament, the WAGS Tournament Committee will host a WAGS Qualifier Tournament June 22-23, 2013 in Northern Virginia, with the top two finishers in each age group at the qualifier earning automatic berths to next October’s tournament, with winners guaranteed a berth in the top flight.
With its tradition and competitiveness, the WAGS Tournament hold a special place in the hearts of many in women’s soccer, as evidenced by merchandise pre-orders which are “just flying out the windows,” according to Diapoulis, who noted the positive reception to the event’s new logo design.
“We’re selling out of sweatshirts right now,” Diapoulis said.
The Maryland-based Elite Tournaments, one of the country’s premier tournament coordinators, is helping WAGS with the planning and execution of this year’s tournament. Elite Tournaments organizes more than 50 events yearly.
“The WAGS Tournament is one of the oldest and most prestigious girls’ soccer events in the country,” said Mike Libber, founder and president of Elite Tournaments. “Adding the WAGS Tournament to the NSCAA Tournament Series was an opportunity that all three parties could not pass up.”
Diapoulis said having a full staff available makes the logistics of hosting a tournament much easier to handle.
“When you have an entire office there to do whatever it is you need them to do, it just makes it easier than when it’s all on the back of one person,” Diapoulis said. “And with NSCAA, with the contacts with the coaches and everything else, we’re just thrilled to death.”