Regardless If Players Make the WPSL Side, SouthStar FC is Giving Local Athletes the Chance to Train All Summer
Published May 31, 2023
Written By:  Thomas Costello | WPSL Correspondent


The Dallas-Ft. Worth metro has a population of over 6.5 million people. It’s an area featuring multiple cities that have grown into a major population hub of the South. Despite being the fifth-highest metro area in the country, the game of soccer shrinks the area substantially. For John Saeger, the club president of SouthStar FC, youth soccer in North Texas is a landscape where “everyone knows everybody.”

When it came time to build WPSL rosters for the 2023 season, Saeger and SouthStar FC turned to a familiar source – fellow conference side DKSC BADTOP whom Saeger has a history with. Building a youth organization of his own, Saeger eventually merged with the Defeaters who ultimately turned into the BADTOP team known today.

Ahead of the WPSL season, Saeger, who still sits on the board of DKSC BADTOP, looked to merge the two sides again – this time for a rare, combined tryout. It was effective.

“We had roughly 100 girls come out,” Seager said. “Which goes to show you the need for more WPSL teams in the area.”

With a 40-person limit on WPSL rosters, teams typically have lineups in the 20s and 30s, meaning that of the close-to-100 athletes that showed up, there wasn’t enough room for nearly half of them. There’s also an issue of which team gets which player.

DKSC BADTOP, who debuted last season in the WPSL and made it all the way to the Red River Conference championship game, had the option to take the players who played in the league last season – both sides returned players who donned club kits for the 2022 WPSL campaign.

As for the remaining pool of players, their summer of soccer isn’t over because Saeger and SouthStar FC, who don’t have a youth club to pull players from like DKSC, invited every single athlete who tried out to stay with the team and train all summer – even if there isn’t a chance to make the 40-player WPSL roster.

Each willing athlete gets three training sessions a week, but SouthStar FC doesn’t reap any reward of this financially because there is no charge for these training sessions – every player who didn’t make the team is invited to practice for free.

“We want this every summer,” Seager said. “We don’t care if you’re D1, D2, Juco. If you want to come out, take this seriously, and train, we want you here. It costs nothing, we want good competition and the opportunity for these girls to play.”

The players who made the initial team, and those who join the practices, each have the opportunity to help improve SouthStar on the field.

Following a successful 2019 expansion season, ending with a 4-3-1 record, SouthStar had to adjust like everyone in the canceled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since that first year, the Dallas-area side has three wins and 13 losses in two seasons. This year has a chance to see a return to that original 2019 form. For Saeger, this season will be “more emblematic of a team” with returning players in the mix.

Having a group of players in the triple-digits to choose from will definitely help, but SouthStar is also returning players from last season. For a league schedule that flies by within two months, any chemistry advantage goes a long way on the field.

The two sides will open the season together when they face each other on Wednesday, May 31. In Saeger’s mind though, it’s more than the wins and losses at the end of the season – it’s letting people in the league see what the Dallas-Ft. Worth area has to offer in the sport.

“We’re really blessed in this area,” Saeger said. “I think anyone would say their area is good but I really like North Texas. I’ve been in youth soccer for 20 years and I’m partial to the players that come out of this area. We have some very strong talent and it shows on the field.”