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Hononegah Lions Soccer Club

Who are the Lions? How did they come to be? What are they about?

Established in 1982, The Hononegah Lions Soccer Club is a competitive offering to compliment the Bruce Samlan Soccer League.  In Bruce Samlan, most players rotate teams and coaches each season for parity and player development from a communal coaching perspective (different coaching methods, different techniques stressed by multiple coaches, teamwork with different players, etc.).  Bruce Samlan is for players of all ages and skill levels and the Lions was for a group of players that wanted to remain on the same team, grow/develop together, and compete outside of the Roscoe/Rockton/S. Beloit area with membership in competitive leagues (YSSL, NISL, IWSL). 

In short, Bruce Samlan is a league with all games in Roscoe where the Hononegah Lions is participation in leagues and tournaments outside of the Roscoe/Rockton/S. Beloit  area.  To honor the growing membership in HYSA from outside of the supporting communities to Hononegah High School, the Lions changed the name to Lions '82 to reflect the beginning date of the organization and recognize membership from players from Machesney Park, Loves Park, Rockford, Beloit, Poplar Grove, Caledonia, Capron, Clinton, Belvidere, and Williams Bay.  Regardless of school district or home community, any player can become a Hononegah Lion.

The Lions have fielded teams from U8 through U18 with many past teams ranked at high levels in their respective divisions.  Lions is a competitive program with Professionally Licensed Coaches (a requirement to play in competitive leagues), that helps young athletes develop their soccer skills to a high level while at the same time recognizing the importance of players developing into well-rounded individuals within our community.  Most of the past Lions coaches have been Bruce Samlan Soccer parents and Bruce Samlan coaches who became Lions coaches to allow their child(ren) to compete at a higher level of soccer. 

The Hononegah Lions is very similar to Bruce Samlan Soccer as the entire club has never been entirely about soccer, it was about local parents and coaches with community ties who were concerned with character development and community support vice just wins and losses.  The Lions was for the players to compete outside of the area and challenge themselves against other regional clubs but the Lions was also about players participating in other sports (Basketball is great for soccer development) and playing on their school teams (remember, the Lions coaches were former BSSL parents and just became certified to coach Lions teams, their interest in soccer was similar to today's Bruce Samlan parents and coaches). 

The Hononegah Lions encouraged players to participate in their school sports or only participate on a club team during one season (i.e., Spring so then those players could do other sports in the fall),  volunteering in the community and supporting local charities and food drives, and limited practices to twice a week so as not to extinguish your child's passion for the game of soccer through "burn-out" and excessive competition.  This was also common for the parent coaches of Lions teams as they regularly wanted to see their children participate in other sports as well.  

As the Lions program had coaches and parents with community ties who volunteered for the program, it was able to keep fees very reasonable to allow more players the opportunity to participate in travel squads and tournament play.  The "spirit" of the Lions is still evident in Bruce Samlan Soccer with great parent volunteers who help make the organization go and the focus on playing time and player development vice a "win at all costs" mentality.  These same former BSSL parent volunteers were and are the foundation for new Lions Coaches.   

Lions parents would regularly volunteer time in the club (field setup, tear-down, fundraisers, spiritwear) just like Bruce Samlan Soccer and the Lions tournament was a big event during the early 2000s (including concessions).  Those Lions teams focused on developing character and making great citizens vice just a single minded focus on winning, the Lions was taking Bruce Samlan players to compete in external leagues...the spirit of the Lions comes from Bruce Samlan and there are many parallels to each side of our organization.

For the Lions coaches, it was similar to Bruce Samlan coaches, it was not about a paycheck for these coaches but about forming  teamwork and improving all  players' individual skills.   Team success was not measured by wins and losses but how the players developed, improved, and supported their team and their community and it was the focus on "well-rounded improvement" that produced great Lions teams...these teams had character and every player had been developed that "subs" on the team were as good as the "starters".  Those teams won because of focus on player development and character, not on just playing or recruiting (via scholarship) one or two great players  to a team to just win.  It wasn't just about 12 out of 17 players on a team playing and 5 players not even getting playing time.  This is a mindset that is prevalent in some local soccer clubs but was not nor is the foundation of the Lions teams.  Lions is simply taking Bruce Samlan players and developing those players to pursue higher levels of competition and forming those players into long-lasting teams that grow together.

Soccer is a team sport, great players can have an impact but teamwork and chemistry are crucial to winning and success.  Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, has had great team success with Barcelona because the team was created around him with other great complimentary players.  Messi was not as successful on the Argentinian National Team as the chemistry and complimentary players  could not win the World Cup or Copa Americana as one player cannot do it all.  The Lions know that the "strength of the Lion" comes from the "pride (team)" and Lions always hunt together as they are more successful than alone.  The "pride" is only as good as its weakest hunter and growing together strengthens the pride and promotes the growth of each individual Lion in the pride. 

What is a "Club" team?

Membership in a "Club" or "Travel" Team 

When parents and players consider club soccer, they look at the value and development their players will receive.  The Hononegah Lions S.C. has a commitment to our community to develop character, develop soccer skills, promote playing time, and as we are non-profit, keep fees low.   This is to ease the jump from Bruce Samlan Soccer to a more competitive format in regional area leagues.

Club teams must have Professionally Licensed Coaches for membership in IWSL, YSSL, or NISL and to attend any U.S. Club Soccer Tournament, but Lions only recruits or retains those parent volunteer coaches who will not only develop highly skilled soccer players, but also strive to promote Confidence, Composure, Commitment, Community and Teamwork.  Lions will pay for coaches to become certified with U.S. Soccer so please don't consider this as a hurdle to coaching.  We can teach you soccer, we can't teach you character.  

Character is the hallmark of any Lions player and we only recruit coaches that "walk the walk" and focus on character over playing skill, we are teaching the next generation the benefit of hard work, dealing with adversity, and individual/team problem-solving.

Club soccer in some organizations can be a year-round thing but Lions historically has a Fall  season (August - November), and a Spring season (March\April - June).   While some teams have participated in winter soccer indoors, this is more of a team decision than a club directive.  Very similar to Bruce Samlan Soccer, participation in one season or just two seasons is common, there is not an expectation to keep playing, rather a decision from the team players, parents, and parent volunteer coaches to keep playing.

Many Lions players have competed for 1 or 2 seasons and then moved to other sports to return back to Lions later, please consider these Lions teams to be "your" teams, it is not about what a Club President or Director of Coaching  wants but what the teams want to do. 

During the season, teams train similar to Bruce Samlan with practices twice a week for U8 - U11 having 1.5 hour sessions to U12 - U18 teams having 2 hour practice sessions.  2 hour practices allow for a building block approach and progressive drills that reinforce lessons and allow players to "demonstrate" under game-like conditions.   These slightly longer sessions than Bruce Samlan improve skill retention in Lions players and accelerate player development. 

Most of the Lions matches are within (1) one hour to (1.5) one and a half hours maximum driving time and Lions teams have  traditionally participated in  (2) two tournaments each season. These tournaments are usually in the Chicagoland Area or Southern Wisconsin and teams can and often choose to participate in additional tournaments (Wisconsin Dells, etc.) for an extra fee. Parents and players are consulted when choosing tournaments so please understand that this is a collective decision made by the team to participate in specific tournaments. 

In short, Lions is about helping your son or daughter become the best, all-around person that he/she can be while teaching her/him the beautiful game of soccer.  If you are looking for a  challenge above Bruce Samlan Soccer and looking for a club that stresses character and learning through making mistakes and through playing time (this is the foundation necessary for great teams), please contact us as we are excited to facilitate your child's soccer journey. 

While our club costs are some of the lowest in the area (it's again about service and not a paycheck), Financial Assistance is also available so please don't hesitate to contact us if you are interested in continuing the Lions' Legacy of great players, great citizens, and great teams.

Looking for Coaches, Parents, and players, it's about service

The Lions are currently hibernating this winter and looking for local parents and local coaches for teams in Fall 2017.  If you are interested in coaching and have local ties to our community (Lions is not about a paycheck, more it's about service and character), please contact us at

Mailing Address

Hononegah Lions Soccer Club

P.O. Box 1021

Roscoe, IL 61073