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The GCLA Way

GCLA League Structure

For the GCLA to have any success in achieving its goals
for expansion it became necessary to structure the league
in a way that best facilitated this.

We needed to structure our clubs in a way that would best
appeal to as many interested teams as possible. We needed
to make it not only meaningful for clubs to be GCLA members,
but easy as well.

By 1995, our former league had concentrated all its talent
into such a small number of heavily-fortified teams that
for any new team to join would be competitive suicide.
The existing teams were not in any way going to give up
any players, so the strength of these teams tended to act
as a huge brick wall.

Sure, the old league had what was known as "associate"
membership, but that was meaningless in any practical
way.

A perfect illustration would be the old Bayou City LC, a
club I helped form back in 1992. Bayou City had a lot of
players, and some had talent. Still, in year one, they
were simply not prepared in any way to play the very
strong teams in the league. In fact, the other teams 
wouldn't even play them! Metro was the only team willing
to play them. The others clung to an elitist attitude,
snubbing such an opponent as "unworthy of their time".
Well, needless to say, Bayou City was out of business
by 1994. It was too bad, since they did have some good
players who later found that the only place to play was
an already talent-laden established team.

Another example was the old Brazoria County LC, another
associate member. NONE of the league's teams but Metro
even wanted to touch that one. We knew that if we at Metro
did not play them then that program would die. We received
a lot of ridicule for scheduling them from the other
league members and some of their referees. Still, we made 
some friends as well as some memories. We have never had
any regrets for scheduling them.

So how would we structure a league in such a way as to appeal
to an established team, but also to make room for a novice
team as well?

We had to keep things loose on the overall GCLA level, and we
would tighten things on a local basis with the formation of
individual conferences within the GCLA. 

For teams wanting the thrill of a conference title chase
along with a structured conference schedule featuring mostly
local teams (reducing the mandatory travel) we had our
formal conferences. The Western Conference has been located
mostly around the Greater Houston area, while the Eastern
Conference operated in the New Orleans area. Outside of
those areas, teams were generally what we call At-Large teams.

At-Large teams are teams who wish to be full GCLA members,
but without the conference membership and schedule. At-Large
teams might be located in a remote area within the GCLA where
commitment to a conference schedule would be difficult. At-Large
teams might also be newer teams that likely could not stand
up right away to the grind of a conference schedule. Also,
At-Large teams might be established teams who simply want more
freedom with their scheduling.

This structure allows us to have a little something for
everyone. Now, if a geographically-remote team wishes to become
a GCLA member, we can slot them mong our At-Large teams. Also,
if a strong team wants to compete for a Conference title,
it can by joining one of our conferences. Additionally, if
I get a call from Victoria or Bay City telling me that they've
got 25 raw rookies wanting to play for the first time, well
in that instance the GCLA has yet another At-large member.

Again, we simply try to reduce the barriers to entry while
giving others the tools for success.