PLAYERS 285, ages 9-13                                                                         TEAMS 19   




Hans Stierle, one of five founders and the first president of AYSO, calmly led AYSO through its most trying years. With his home as the National headquarters and his garage as the Torrance warehouse for equipment, Hans and his wife Christel provided the energy to carry AYSO into a doubling of players and teams. West Torrance’s Jefferson Field, located across the street from the Stierle home, and additional fields emerging in other cities, AYSO was seeking changes to accommodate the near-term growth and the anticipated future growth.

Age twelve was the higher limit of the players in 1964-65 and a need to increase the playing age to accommodate the previous years twelve year old was introduced but the play still had a wide variance in the ages of players. Plans for a two division AYSO were being studied. Close cooperation with the local school boards and teaching staff was to be required. The cost of operating on a $5.00 player registration fee was presenting a close-knit operation and required the “time and treasure” of many supporters. A larger field in the City of Torrance with more visibility was in the planning stage; eventually, the German Alpine Village in Torrance provided an excellent addition with their soccer field being made available. . 

Hans Stierle realized that publicity of the success of the Americanization of youth soccer would assist in avoiding the “starts and stops” experienced by others for more than a hundred years throughout the USA. While the great successes in the East Coast resulted in limited growth, the same pitfalls in the West were to be brought to the surface and corrected. 

Hans Stierle, with Bill Hughes, Bill Wolstencroft, and Andy Keir SR., were to meet often and ensure that the AYSO program in the City of Torrance with players from throughout the South Bay would not succumb to the well-intended demands by the “old country” traditionalists. Albeit, the second year with its many challenges, would serve as the foundation to innovate in the following years, especially with the need of two age divisions instead of one. In the third year, the breakup of teams who played together for two years was to be of utmost concern by the coaches in the years to follow. The need of qualified coaches and referees, albeit minimal in comparison to the needs in future years of growth, with the demand for the best qualified was to be a major contention from all involved.

In Culver City,  the upcoming departure of Steve Erdos presented a major challenge to Hans Stierle and other board members. Having experienced many years of youth soccer from Chicago to Germany and back to the USA, before the commencement of AYSO in 1964, in Torrance, Hans stood steadfast on avoiding the pitfalls and constantly stressed Bill Hughes' Americanization of the approach to involve a multitude of players that was the goal of all concerned.

The second year of AYSO growth was to be followed by a third year of decline due to the dropping out of Culver City region, but once again, adherence to the Americanization of the youth organization, and retaining  the quality of play in EVERYONE PLAYS, was to result in the “search” and “finding” of the gifted players. The AYSO PLAYER PROFILES especially of the first three years contained in this PIONEER STORY of AYSO is the testimonial of the decisions adhered to in the challenging second and third year of AYSO.  

The AYSO players of the first years fully represent why AYSO would grow nationally. With excellent coaching and excellent refereeing, the players would soon be captured by the "love of playing soccer" and not only develop bonds of friendship but also the leadership skills that are inherent in the game of soccer. These attributes, when properly managed, established the foundation of AYSO that would carry AYSO forward. Many great success stories would be initiated by the players of the first years and their stories will be told in their profiles in the Pioneers of AYSO story.                                                                              

Imagine the steady hands of the early years of AYSO who placed their youth ahead of the sport of soccer that resulted in the tremendous gains of the sport of soccer in America. Throughout the APAYSO, the challenges of the pressure from the affiliated, the challenges to operate at the lowest cost to the AYSO Family, the challenges presented by the “old country” adults who, understandably, wanted activities fulfilled in the manner that they experienced in their native land, the challenges to the coach from the “old country” parents who treasured the style of play back home and the un-acceptance of another “old country” parent who had long standing grievances over his worthy opponent from a different nation were successfully overcome. The AYSO LEADERS of the first three years with a third year decline were to actually result in the strengthening and breakthrough that would place the USA in the world rankings in less than 50 years. The placement of "youth before soccer" was key.

The success story of AYSO will always be based on overcoming many challenges; past, present and future, from all viewpoints and the second year of AYSO truly established the strength of the AYSO leadership. The five founders, each with their level of success and failure, and the cadre of regional commissioners who were to follow, are all entitled to their rightful position as PIONEERS of AYSO, each with a challenge that was overcome by their accepting the responsibility to meet their local and immediate needs through their expenditure of “time and treasure.”   1965-66, rightfully, became one of many key turning years.   

It was the first and second year that AYSO leadership recognized that the future of youth soccer in the Americas was to be dependent upon cooperation, cohesion of all involved, and continuous innovation to meet the American objectives that were sought by the  "old country traditionalists" and the "new country enthusiasts."  Adhering to rules and regulations composed by the active leadership was necessary to play together and to stay together. The strength of soccer succeeding in the Americas was founded by these early pioneers and each new region was to be equated as an equal to obtain the future of soccer in America. These early years in California were to establish the foundation for each State as long as "YOUTH" was more important than "SOCCER," one of the the keys to the Americanization of youth soccer.  
During the first years of AYSO soccer, there was an imprtant ingredient for success that emerged. Parents who had their sons playing in other youth sports noticed an increased smile by their sons during and after an AYSO game. There are many great reasons for the increased smile of which EVERYONE PLAYS was only one of them. In the game of AYSO youth soccer there is a special inherent factor in the game itself. It is the lessons of life learned that when played correctly and fairly, its "leadership skills" born within the game, that are evidenced. While many soccer traditionalists had their search for the gifted through EVERYONE INVITED, their optimum gift was attained.  Most importantly, it was the ability to "lead" and "follow" by every player during each game that the "leadership skills" are taught within the game of soccer. To learn to think while enjoying the play on the field resulted in every player experiencing his own growth factor.  
Every player was required to make decisions on the run and others had to follow the intent of that decision or improve upon it. It is this joy of participation by everyone in every play on the field that awakens the joy in the game of youth soccer. Even the goalkeeper with the play at the other end of the field has to participate by studying not only the potential offense of the worrthy opponents but also the movement of his defenders to counter the play and initiate an offense of their own. Busy minds by each player provide an opportunity to learn "leadeaship skills." 
The additional benefit of the coach required to teach primarily during practice and the players in command of "on the field coaching" adds to the pleasure of participation by every player.  The unrestricted "decision making" by each player, each team, to change tactics immediately providea potential strategy for success.   
In the first two years of AYSO, there was an atmosphere developed supported by "youth before sport" that would allow for an unlimited growth within AYSO. Not only was each player enthused but the parents, experiencing their offspring's joy on the field of play, but also the fact that each player looked forward to the next season was welcomed. This "player returning" factor became a strong influence on the parent's decision to further support AYSO and its program. A happy child is an advantage to happy parents.
Despite a difficulty in year three in Culver City, AYSO growth in Torrance and the other regions, in 1965-66 was being formalized and the future of AYSO was to capture the imagination of Americans, nationwide, to the world's number one sport. A long way to go in 1965-66, but, today, in 2014, we are, at last, with soccer being a proven American Sport. 
The addition of AYSO regions in the northern and eastern sections of Los Angeles completed the fulfillment of the initial planning to have regions in each of the four Los Angeles quadrants.  In the northern LA area, the San Fernando Valley region was now in operation and in the eastern LA area, the San Gabriel region operated. A total of 19 teams played in the second year of AYSO. The West Torrance Panthers won their first playoff game of  the AYSO second year, over the West La Huskies and the Sierra Madre Magpies would defeat the Northern LA Northridge Condors, In the 1965-66 AYSO Finals, the West Torrance Panthers  won their first AYSO Championship, 4-0, over the Sierra Madre Magpies. The Torrance Panthers lost in the first year, 1964-65,  to the West Los Angeles Wldcats but would go on to win the second and third years. Details of these games will be written in each of the region's pioneer story.  
Although AYSO operated only in the Los Angeles County, planning was underway to expand throughout California and then nation nationwide. But first, many changes had to be made to truly Americanize the operational procedures. The second year, 1965-66, was a healthy growth period and the AYSO National officers truly understood that there would be many obstacles to overcome but the foundation was being exorcised.