PLAYERS 1,100, ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15                                                          TEAMS 72





The decision to introduce the third division, ages 7 to 9, in the fourth year (1967-68), was a major accomplishments that markedly resulted in the acceleration of AYSO growth and eventually introduced a multitude of young parents that complimented the “old country” parents who sought the Americanization of youth soccer. The PIONEERS OF AYSO STORY has many highlights, all worthy of mention, but after the intial start of AYSO in 1964-65, and EVERYONE PLAYS, the addition of Divisuion III, ages 7 to 9, provided the greatest impact on the involvement of parents, statistically. Every Soccer Mom and Soccer Dad dreams of their offspring participating with other youngsters in group activities, athletic or scholastic. When the parent takes an offspring to the first soccer meeting, it is like the opening day of school. When that parent meets the other parents, attends the practice sessions, and standing alongside the other parents during a contest, a "bond" is taking place not only on the field of play but also on the sidelines.  There is not one single parent that is not elated on watching their child run with others and believes that their child has promise beyond their wildest dreams. That under 10 year-old child has reached a growth period that indicates a potential that illustrates parental dream fulfillment or at least indicates progress toward that fulfillment, after further development. In the AYSO Family, the evening meal after a game, win or lose, there is a great joy in listening to the child explain his move at a critical point in the game. Soccer Mom and Soccer Dad knew that their child would sleep well that evening and more must be done tomorrow. It was the dreams of tomorrow that made their child's anticipation of involvement in the sport of soccer with all of its advantages for youth participation that is at the foundation of the AYSO Family. Parents and players, together, would conquer all obstacles and the future never looked any brighter.      
1967 to and through the 70s was the AYSO hallmark of a storied set of accomplishments. However, no greater success story could offset the years of 1964-65 to 1966-67 when the AYSO leadership transitioned from the old “old country” traditionalists to the new “old country” realists. The transition from traditionalists to realists took years but now everyone in AYSO worked together and this team work spelled unbridled success.
AYSO, especially in the City of Torrance, California would capture their neighbors in the South Bay Area with the implementation of the Third Division age group, 7 to 9 years olds. While the South Bay teams were headquartered mostly in Torrance, the players were gathered from neighboring towns throughout the Los Angeles South Bay. Four teams, ages 7 to 9, in Division III initiated the growth challenge beginning in this fourth year of AYSO in Torrance; the addition of two more Division III teams in the middle of the 1967-68 season signaled that players were extolling their playing experience to a multitude of friends. This fourth year of AYSO with South Bay commissioner Bill Wolstencroft is attributed to the “old-new country” leadership of AYSO who now truly experienced the player first, sport second, in that the “more the merrier” would be necessary to commence the EVERYONE PLAYS philosophy initiated in the intent of the founders. AYSO was now attracting State-wide attention, not in numbers yet, but instead in youth soccer successfully surviving the “old country” adults who were now imbedded together with those who also loved their children first. It is difficult to acknowledge this transition but many that moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and previously experienced in soccer success attained on the East Coast now had a feeling of Americanization.
What happened in the fourth year, 1967-68, was not only a spurt of AYSO growth but also a desire for the need of further improvements. The fourth year established the new foundation that earmarked the influence of a new breed that was necessary to expand into new areas at a more rapid pace. Additions to the continuing rule changes that would truly impact AYSO growth were being formulated by the new blood of parents into AYSO. The further development of AYSO Philosophies was around the corner and the continuous fresh air oxygenated the growth process.    

It is difficult to present the signs of changes required during the fourth year but the undertones were being expressed by the success of EVERYONE PLAYS, the driving force within AYSO. While the quality of play, especially with coaches who were in a learning curve, did improve because of the three divisions age groupings, the competitive enjoyment found by new players and adults undergoing their first-ever experience in youth soccer, AYSO had a new shine.

Soccer Parents Organizations (SPO) were formed to rally parents and raise funds, city government officials supported the growth in youth activities, school boards and principals found that school hours had a new physical education activity providing exercise that was previously in decline or missing. Police departments were enthused by the weekend activities in a sport as opposed to idle hands in the streets. Yes, there was a new advent underway and a new demand upon AYSO. The sport of youth soccer had reached a new plateau, a plateau of envisioning a major growth. AYSO was up to the task under the leadership of Hans Stierle and the regional commissioners.  AYSO would not rest on their laurels to date. AYSO was not to become complacent within their existing success indicated in their fourth year. AYSO, as it is today in their 50th year, (2014) will also meet the fresh challenges presented to the new blood of changing times and changing requirements.   

Yes, AYSO found its key to success by the addition of Divisiopn III Boys but there was an equally great achievement underway. In the beginning years of AYSO, 1964 to 1968, there was a strong influence by the ladies. First, the SOCCER MOMS were most effective in the 1964-65 year when Soccer Moms fulfilled critical duties as Team Mothers. Led by Christel Stierle as the first AYSO Soccer Mom when she made sure that all the members of the first four boys' teams had soccer shoes, to provide oranges to the players in the first year and using the Stierle garage as the headquarters and equipment storage location during those first years; Christel led the Soccer Moms in recruiting players and West Torrance Soccer Moms had a continuing effect on the foundation of "family involvement."

There was a "not-too-silent" activity underway during the first few years that was emanating from the daughters of the soccer moms. Most every AYSO family found the young ladies practicing in their back yards with their brothers who had the limelight of team play on the weekends. The growing rumble for girls' soccer in AYSO was well underway. Some of the soccer moms grew up in other countries and they were well versed by their playing days. On one day in 1968, the soccer moms challenged the soccer dads to a soccer game at Jefferson elementary school in West Torrance. The soccer moms made the rules, 22 moms versus 11 dads on the field of play, and the ladies were allowed a professional goalie.  The soccer moms destroyed the soccer dads, 5 to 1. More difficult to accept was that the soccer dads were mostly coaches, referees, and mainly former soccer players. This one-day activity commenced the thrust for equal rights of their daugthers on the soccer field of play.  

Mario Machado (AYSO vice-president)  became the "rallying point" for the ladies to center their requirement for a girls' soccer program in AYSO. The pressure was unrelentless by the soccer moms and in the 1971-72 season four AYSO regions introduuced the girls' program. Fourteen teams in West Torrance led by Dick Smisek and Don and Alma Hazzard, ten teams in San Fernando Valley led by Ron Ricklefs, ten teams in Rolling Hills led by Chuck LaFranchi, and two teams in Palos Verdes led by Dan Matulich, resulted in 36 teams during the first year of AYSO girls' soccer (1971-72). Soon, girls soccer  would become the foundation for the completion of the AYSO Family, Mom and Dad with son and daughter fully involved together. While the AYSO GIRLS program was yet to begin, the foundation was well underway in 1968.   

The AYSO  girls' program would not only reach across the USA but the impact on high school girls' programs, especailly in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIFSS), the colleges throughout the USA, and also provide the training ground and growth impact on the USA Women's Olympic and World Cup teams that would follow.    

There are and will be many claims for the success of the USA Womens' success in the Olympics (4 out of 5 gold medals by 2012) and World Cup victories and rightfully so. The following is not to "one-upsmanship" the many girls youth programs across the USA, but to simply add to the success story of everyone. In addition to the addition of boys' Division III soccer in 1967-68 resulting in unbelievable AYSO growrth, the Soccer Moms were gaining strength. While there was great joy for the Moms watching Dad coach and ref their sons, the Soccer Moms had their daughters demanding equal rights. The Soccer Moms decided that they had to gather attention and challenged the Soccer Dads to a soccer game between them. On a faithful Saturday, March 23, 1968, the Soccer Moms planned a winning strategy.  

As previously noted, the Soccer Mom's challenged the Soccer Dad's to a soccer game on Jefferson elementary school in West Torrance, California and "whooped" their spouses, 5-1, the women of AYSO began their long road to equality and the national level of American soccer was blessed by the addition of girls' soccer in AYSO (1971).  It is quite easy to state that the demands for girls soccer in AYSO was a joint effort by moms and dads because, Dad loved their daughters as much as their sons. For the three years of AYSO prior to this memorable game, Soccer Moms carried the heavy load as Team Representatives for each AYSO team. The Moms were extremely proud of their sons soccer advantages in growing-up but the tears of the daughters were running. With many American Soccer Moms, the number of foreign born mothers gathered the American-born Soccer Moms and the stories of the old-country playing days were embellished. Now, with the excitement of the first Soccer Mom vs Soccer Dad game in the bank plus the victory, there was no stopping the Soccer Moms during the 1967-68 AYSO season.    

This early example (boys Division III, 1967-68 and girls soccer 1971-72), of AYSO  having an impact on American soccer is an extraordinary activity leading to the USA growth in soccer and it also provides proof to the excellence of Americans in that the youth, high school, and college route is the primary American Way for the American success story. AYSO with its EVERYONE PLAYS is the solid foundation that will result in a continuing rise in the future of soccer in America. 

The 1967-68 AYSO season with the addition of boys Division III and the epic challenge on the field of play by Soccer Moms versus Soccer Dads leading to the growth of AYSO would  not only capture the family sport of soccer but also the AYSO future of soccer in the Americas

By the year 2011, there would be over 6 million AYSO graduates with over 500,000 active players. The effect on high school soccer nationally is best indicated statistically.  Prior to the 1970s, Southern California had no Girls' high school soccer programs. In 2011, the girls national high schools with soccer programs numbered 11,047 schools with 361,556 participants. The boys high schools with soccer programs numbered 11,505 schools with 398,351 participants. That memorable game between Soccer Moms and Soccer Dads at Jefferson Elementary School in West Torrance on March 23, 1968 would ignite the Soccer Moms and initiate the most rapid growth of youth soccer in the Amercas.

In 1967, the CIFSS did not have a single high school soccer program and because of the early growth of AYSO  boys and girls soccer, now, every Southern California high school has a boys soccer program and 90% of the high schools have a girls soccer program.

There is no national full credit claim by the Pioneers of AYSO but there is pride and humility in the fact that AYSO is the prime growth factor for the excellent achievements during the years of an independent, unaffiliated soccer youth organization. The AYSO independence in locating the American actions led to the introduction of girls soccer and the impact on high school, college, professional, Olympic and World Cup soccer is best illustrated statistically and the AYSO graduates to be listed in the Pioneer of AYSO Story will be our way of honoring, with pride, the effect of  EVERYONE PLAYS (1964-65).