Gainesville Travel – Frequently Asked Questions
Updated for the 2021-22 School Year & Basketball Season
PLEASE NOTE - Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, FCYBL has decided to exclude non-Fairfax County clubs from league play for the 2021-22 season. This winter, GBA Travel will participate in local leagues and AAU-style tournaments, and offer a comparable number of games. We look forward to returning to play in the FCYBL next year.
What exactly is Gainesville Travel?
Gainesville Travel is the youth travel basketball program for the best players in Prince William County and the travel component of GBA. We are an exclusive member organization of the Fairfax County Youth Basketball League (www.fcybl.org), more commonly known as "Travel". The Fairfax County Youth Basketball League is a winter-only, non-profit organization comprised of nearly 30 registered youth clubs and recreation centers across Northern Virginia, and exists to enable local youth to develop advanced basketball skills while playing on their neighborhood teams. In this winter Travel league, GBA competes simply as "Gainesville Travel" against the best youth players in Northern Virginia. GBA holds Travel tryouts in early October, and Travel practices begin in mid-October and games start in November. We practice at least twice a week for about 90 minutes, and have 1 to 2 games per week. Games are played at gyms across Fairfax County and surrounding areas. The Winter Travel season wraps up in early March.
Gainesville Travel is expanding to offer a spring/summer travel basketball season to go along with our winter travel season. We are also planning to open up more teams for boys and girls in grades 5th thru 8th. We will be adding a few additional B & C teams to all grades to allow more kids the opportunity to play travel basketball for us this winter in the highly regarded Fairfax County Youth Basketball League (FCYBL). We are also starting a pre-travel academy program for 3rd & 4th grade boys and girls.
In the spring/summer, our winter travel basketball coaches and teams will stay together. We will be bringing in local basketball and strength and agility trainers to work on the individual skills of the athletes. Teams will continue to have team practices as well as conditioning, and will compete in AAU and non-AAU tournaments and leagues, as determined on a team-by-team basis.
What are the benefits of expanding with a spring/summer program and adding more teams?
Benefits of this expansion include:
- significantly lower costs to our families, (one uniform, one tryout, less admin)
- the improvement of the individual skill of the athlete, more practicing with same coach and group
- team continuity and cohesion
- bringing tournaments and the best competition to Gainesville.
What is the primary goal/objective of Gainesville Travel?
The goal of Gainesville Travel continues to be the same: preparing athletes to make their High School teams. 94% of ALL boys and girls varsity basketball athletes at Battlefield High & Patriot High came through our program, as well as many at Stonewall & Brentsville. By offering an expanded season, we’ll have continued success at achieving our goal.
When does the Travel season start and end?
- Regular season winter travel starts in early October and ends in early March.
- Spring/Summer travel starts in March and ends in June.
How many teams are you planning to field this year?
Gainesville Travel will be practicing at our local elementary, middle, and high schools. With PWCS gym options, we now have more gym space and are excited to offer more opportunities:
Boys 5: 3 teams
Boys 6: 3 teams
Boys 7: 3 teams
Boys 8: 3 team
Girls 5: 2 teams
Girls 6: 1 team
Girls 7: 1 team
Girls 8: 1 team
Note- it will still be very competitive to make some of these teams, with likely 80+ children trying out for some of the larger boys divisions. However, we’ll now have more opportunities for players to make teams.
What is the difference between Gainesville Travel vs. AAU?
Gainesville Travel competes in a winter, community-based travel league where the best players from a Northern Virginia town compete against the other best players from other towns. The FCYBL Travel League has been in existence for 35 years. Gainesville is one of the largest & most successful teams and we compete against other communities like Arlington, Reston, Chantilly, Alexandria, etc. Teams are tiered into three divisions to ensure fair and even competition. We play in High School gyms with High School refs. This league is EXTREMELY well organized with reliable schedules, good competition, facilities and volunteers. Travel is from 4th to 8th grade for boys and girls. The league has rules governing which team’s children can play on, depending on where they live. Children from Prince William County can only play for Gainesville Travel in this league and no other teams. Likewise, Gainesville is not allowed to have players from Fairfax County on our team. Gainesville Travel & all of FCYBL is 100% volunteer-driven and 100% non-profit.
What is the plan for 3rd & 4th grade boys and girls?
A very small number of 4th graders can play up in 5th grade travel divisions.
We also launched a light-touch, pre-travel academy experience for our top 3rd & 4th grade boys and girls players. This program will run from Feb to June to prepare more advanced players for their travel years ahead.
What is the plan for 2nd graders?
Play GBA Rec and have fun.
What is the plan for high school players?
We will continue to partner with our local AAU team, Gainesville Elite, to offer the area’s top AAU program for local high school players. Gainesville Elite has a proven track record with the most high school and (later) college players in the area. HS players would try out in Feb/March after their HS season.
What is the difference between "Recreation" and "Travel" Basketball?
"Recreation" Basketball is open to everyone regardless of skill level. Each team is set up with players with a wide range of skill levels. All players are guaranteed a minimum amount of playing time in each game. Everyone who signs up for the "Recreational" program before the registration end date is guaranteed placement on a team. Games and practices are held in Gainesville, Bristow, and Haymarket area gyms. "Travel" Basketball is more competitive and demanding. Teams are chosen through a tryout process in early October by the travel coaches with guidance from the GBA Board. In general, Gainesville Travel fields 2 to 3 teams at each age level, depending upon how many qualified applicants try out. Some teams play in the most competitive Division 1 against other Division 1 teams, while other teams play in the slightly less competitive Division 2 against other Division 2 teams, and Division 3 vs. Division 3 teams. How many Division 1 to 3 teams we have at each age level depends upon a pre-season tournament for the 5th grade teams and the previous year’s record for the older teams. Anyone who tries out for Travel and is not selected is automatically placed in our GBA Recreation program.
NOTE: Travel teams require more practice time (generally twice a week for about 80 minutes), and often play both weeknight and weekend games, and hold their games at gyms across Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudon counties. However, winter "Travel" basketball teams, unlike other sport travel teams, do not play outside Northern Virginia.
How do I sign up for Gainesville Travel?
During the GBA online registration process, you will have the opportunity to express an interest in trying out for Travel. Tryouts for the travel teams will occur prior to the evaluations for the Recreation league. To register, return to the HOME page and hit the big orange REGISTER button in the top right corner of the page. Registration will be in September.
What is the cost to play Gainesville Travel?
The registration cost for 2021-22 Winter Travel season will be $400, plus the cost of a uniform (if needed).
The spring/summer portion of travel will be finalized and collected in the March timeframe, and will be a similar amount - in the mid $300 range plus the cost of a uniform (if needed). Spring/summer cost will largely depend on how many events your team decides to play in.
GBA is a non-profit, and all fees are set to entirely pay off required costs, nothing more. Travel costs more than Rec because we receive considerably more practice gym space and play more games. Our fees are significantly lower than other comparable Travel teams, and potentially $1000's less than some expensive AAU programs.
Do I have to buy a new Travel uniform annually?
We will be using new uniforms this year so you will need to purchase one. Uniforms consist of a reversible home/away jersey and shorts. All players must wear their jersey and shorts to all games. Some teams also choose to purchase shooting shirts, at an extra cost.
What school grade does my child have to be in to play Travel?
Boys and Girls in 4th and 5th grade can try out for the 5th grade team. Boys and Girls in 6th thru 8th grades tryout for the grade they are in.
Are there any residency requirements to play Travel?
Yes! There is a FCYBL residency requirement for players selected to our Travel teams. In general, players selected for Gainesville Travel teams must be from one of the following zip codes: 20155, 20136, 20169 and 20181. IN ADDITION, FCYBL rules allow coaches to select a maximum of two players per team from outside these zip codes. The two per team from outside these zip codes cannot live in Fairfax County. Prince William County kids can only play for Gainesville, and are not allowed to play for any other team.
When does registration start and end?
Registration for Travel coincides with the general registration for GBA. However, anyone who failed to register for Travel may still attend Travel tryouts. See the GBA website for detailed tryout information.
What identification is required for registration within FCYBL?
Report card and proof of residency. Proof of residency can be a utility bill from child's home.
When and where are the tryouts held?
Tryouts will be in early October. The tryout schedule will be posted on the GBA website in the travel section. It will vary by age and gender—please go to the GBA website travel link for specific times, dates and locations. The tryout schedule should be posted by mid-September.
When and where are Travel practices held?
Practices are primarily held at local middle, elementary and high schools. We have two 75-90 minute weeknight practices and an occasional weekend practice. Weeknight practices are held between the hours of 6:30-10:00 PM. We generally schedule the younger teams in the earlier time slots (6:30-7:30) and the older teams in the later time slots (7:30-10:00). After tryouts are completed and teams are selected, the coaches will inform their players of their Fall practice schedule for October and November. In December this schedule will change to allow Rec teams to also practice.
Where and when are the Travel games held?
We play games in Fairfax County and surrounding areas. We may also host games at local High Schools or Middle Schools. Most teams have weekend games and an occasional weeknight game. The Travel game schedule is drawn up by the FCYBL scheduler and we have no control over the game schedule.
Should my child try out for Gainesville Travel?
This is an individual family decision. Travel basketball requires a higher level of skill. Of the approximately 2000 kids enrolled in GBA Winter basketball, only about 150 will play in the Travel league. Travel basketball is generally restricted to boys and girls in grades 5-8. Travel basketball also requires a bigger time commitment from players and parents since teams practice twice a week for 75-90 minutes each and play multiple games each week. Moreover, games can be held at locations up to 45 minutes driving time (more depending on traffic) from the Gainesville/Haymarket area. Unlike Recreation ball, FCYBL has no minimum playing time requirement and the allocation of playing time is up to the coach. On the positive side, those kids participating in Travel get more individualized instruction, play on teams where the skill levels are more consistent, and play against stronger competition than in the Recreation program. This allows them to develop their skills at a faster pace and be better prepared to play for their high school teams when they reach high school age.
How are Travel teams selected?
The individuals who sign up for Travel basketball participate in a series of tryouts held in early October. There are two tryout sessions per grade; players must attend at least 1 of these tryout sessions in order to be considered for selection to a team. The tryouts consist of a series of skills drills and scrimmages. The tryouts are run by an outside volunteer or GBA Board member so that the coaches can focus on evaluating the kids. Over the course of the tryout sessions, the coaches evaluate each player. The GBA Board has a representative overseeing both the tryouts and the draft to ensure fairness in the selection process.
My child tried out for Travel basketball but was not selected. What happens now?
If a child registered for GBA basketball and tried out Travel but was not selected, he/she is automatically placed in the "Recreation" program.
How are the Travel coaches selected?
Each year GBA reevaluates all its Travel team coaches--no coach is guaranteed a position from one year to the next, regardless of their record. Applicants are solicited in late summer. All candidates submit a written application to determine their coaching skills, coaching philosophy, views on playing time, commitment to sportsmanship and player development. We also look at past parent and ref feedback that we collect through our Coach Evaluation program. Once the selections have been made, the coaches will be listed on the Travel page of the GBA website.
Tell me more about coaching:
Travel coaching is a VOLUNTEER opportunity. No coaches are paid. We regularly get significant interest and resumes are very strong. You will be signing up for a longer commitment because we will expect you to coach your team through the winter travel season and then continue to stay with them for the spring/summer for additional training and competition. You’ll get a break from July to Oct. Please consider this commitment and ensure you are able to complete the entire year. You will be allowed to select an assistant coach or two to help you.
How are the assistant coaches selected?
In order to make sure all those who sign up have an equal chance to make a Travel team, Gainesville Travel does not allow Travel coaches to select their assistants prior to the tryouts and drafts. Once the draft is held, parents of players on the team are free to volunteer their services to the head coach.
How do you determine the Divisions?
The number of Division 1, 2 and 3 Gainesville Travel teams at a given age group (for example, Girls 6th grade) is set by our number of kids and FCYBL rules. At the 5th grade level, there is a pre-season qualifying tournament to determine which teams should play in Division 1, 2 and 3. Beginning at the 6th grade level, the number of teams is determined by the team’s overall records the previous year, with the best teams in Division 2 moving up to Division 1 and least competitive in Division 1 moving down to Division 2. The same process applies between Division 2 and Division 3.
How does the player draft work for Travel teams?
There is no player draft. The A coach picks his/her team first and then the B coach picks his/her team, and then the C coach where applicable. In addition to basketball skills, coaches must consider their position needs (point guards, bigs, etc.) and such intangibles as hustle, teamwork, and the ability to take direction.
How many kids are on each Travel team?
Teams must have a minimum of 8 players and a max of 12. Typically the coach will select 10 players.
How are kids notified as to whom has been selected for the Travel teams?
Coaches will email the families of selected players within 72 hours (3 days) of the final tryout. If your family does not receive notification within that time frame, then it is safe to assume your child did not make the team and will be placed in the Recreation division. We apologize we cannot have final communication to every family but our numbers at tryouts are sometimes too much for our volunteer coaches to do that.
Some kids who tried out for Travel have been notified but my child has not. What should I do?
All those who try out for Travel basketball should be notified within 3 days of the final tryout. If your child has not been notified that they have been selected for a team, they will automatically be placed in the "recreational" program.
Is there a minimum playing time rule for Travel?
No, there is not. Our Travel coaches make their best attempt to play each child in every game, and almost always do, but this is not guaranteed and there is no minimum playing time rule like in Recreation ball. Better players will usually play more as determined by the coach.
How can I find out where my child’s games are being held and when?
FCYBL posts the game schedule on their website, (www.fcybl.org). This game schedule is subject to frequent changes, so you should be in the habit of checking it on a regular basis. GBA has no control over the game schedule, which is set by FCYBL.
How can I check on game scores and standings?
Scores and standings are also posted on the www.fcybl.org website.