Playing in the WPSL

In our October issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete, we look at all of the different opportunities for college soccer players to play during and after college. This feature on WPSL and Jerry Zanelli just missed the deadline so we are featuring it here. For more like this, check out the October issue and subscribe today.

The WPSL provides a playing opportunity for elite women soccer players to play, develop and promote women's soccer at the highest amateur level in North America. If you are a high school player looking to transition to the college level, a college player wanting to enhance your game over the summer or a recent college grad wanting to keep your playing career going awhile longer, this is the place for you. There are more than 70 teams nationwide.

According to the league’s commissioner, Jerry Zanelli, the WPSL is a special place to play because, “These players place importance on friendship and strength of team. It’s more important to them than anything else and they create lasting memories.” 

If you want to play at this level, you have to be willing to go above and beyond for the team and for yourself. This league isn’t about making money or getting famous, it’s about the opportunity to play the sport that so many love and that is why so many athletes are continuing to be involved. 

Zanelli recalls coaching some of soccer’s biggest legends over the years. “Attitude. Willingness to work hard. Julie (Foudy) would be at the field 30 minutes before practice warming up. Brandi (Chastain) would go around picking up balls and cones when practice was over.”

“It’s more than soccer, it’s your overall commitment to the team.” The attitude like the greats who played for him had (Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, and Alex Morgan to name a few), is what attributes to success of the league today. 

(Bio Credit: California Storm Soccer) Zanelli got involved in soccer when he began coaching his children at a very young age and hasn't been able to stop since. After moving to Sacramento and being told there weren't any girls born in 1971 that were good enough to play soccer, Jerry took it upon himself and started coaching the River City Rowdies. Just three years later, the Rowdies would go on to win the CYSA State Championship for U19's. A few years later, Jerry held a tryout for a women's team in Northern California and had a turnout of around 60 players. He formed three teams (the Storm, Thunder and Lightning) and entered them into as many tournaments and exhibition games as possible since they did not have a league to play in. The California Storm, the team he founded (and also coaches) in 1989, is his chief passion. The Storm has provided a training ground for former US stars Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy as well as international stars such as Sissi. The Storm were National Amateur Cup champions in 1993 and 1994, National Open Cup runners-up in 1995 and 1996, WPSL champions in 1999-2002 and 2004, and the first W League champion of the USISL in 1994. 

Along with success at the team level, Jerry also founded (and served as commissioner) of two National Leagues that are members of USASA. In 1998, the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) was formed. As of today, the WPSL has over 60 teams and is the largest national women's league in the world. 

Jerry created a similar league for the men when he founded the Men's Premier Soccer League (MPSL). Patterned after the WPSL, Jerry started this highly competitive league to serve the top teams and players in the western part of the United States. The MPSL now goes by the name of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).

If his biography doesn’t say it enough, after speaking with Jerry, it is easily evident that he is passionate about this game, the league and most importantly, providing opportunities for thousands of women around the country to play at a high level. 

Get more like this in the October issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete.