PLAYERS   1,830                                                                                    TEAMS   122





After the great additions experienced in 1967-68, the expansion in new areas of California coupled with the unbelievable parent response to the addition of Division III, ages 7 to 9, the Torrance/South Bay area of AYSO expanded from 6 teams to 18 teams in Division III alone. Admittedly, growth mistakes were made such as selecting the team rosters by geographical location of the players resulting in lopsided game scores. Assigning 15 players to each team at the beginning of the season did not allow for additional players and balancing teams by addition was impossible. Yet, this learning curve was added to other growth difficulties to be overcome.

Wooden goal posts, quality of soccer balls, uniform needs, balanced teams, player retention, coaches training, referee expansion, finances, etc., etc., needed attention and the requirements to excellent growth presented an overload to basic needs of field sites and personnel.  While the tasks were challenging, as they will always be, the finding of a success route for growth filled the AYSO responsible persons with a new life within the AYSO existing procedures.

AYSO felt the good feeling after 4 years of trials and tribulations. And, finally, it was to be a task of meeting a new and a more enjoyable direction, an unlimited growth envisioned. AYSO was to expand geographically, numerically, fields, fan support, management additions, organizational strength, and recognition.

AYSO now had the positive attention of the USSF, United States Soccer Federation. Continuing overtures were being made to AYSO to affiliate with the USSF. AYSO was previously considered a non-affiliate youth soccer organization and now with success indicated, the USSF wanted the AYSO organization under the umbrella of the USSF. Meetings were held to discuss the affiliation requirements but the USSF was in financial stress and always wanted income from the AYSO youth to flow upward to the adult organization. Internal meetings were held within the AYSO organization and it was troubling to find solace in youth organizations to pay for adult operations as opposed to vice-versa. While AYSO always wished for an amicable relationship with affiliated soccer in our early years, AYSO placed AYSO integrity above questionable financial demands and control objectives. 

AYSO had greater plans to undertake knowing that for decades limited success for youth soccer in America was under the leadership of the USSF. Eventually, AYSO would work with the USSF but AYSO growth needed attention first and the challenge of working within the USSF was not an advantage. AYSO found its success route in EVERYONE PLAYS and the year 1968-69 was to commence a pivotal operation for the coming years. Two men of Torrance, Ron Littlefair (Public Relations) and Joe Bonchonsky  (South Bay Division III commissioner) were hard at work during and after the 1968-69 year and their experience of the difficulties of AYSO growth in the first four years, while their sons played in the earlier years of AYSO, opportuned them with the need to continue making changes of improvement in the regional operation of AYSO.

Ron Littlefair, a Syracuse University graduate and Joe Bonchonsky, a Penn State graduate, transplants to the West Coast, held nearly every position at the working level in AYSO and were preparing themselves for major redirection of AYSO soccer in the South Bay of LA. Neither Ron nor Joe were without management capabilities. Ron was very independent especially after flying 100 missions as a fighter pilot during the Korean War. Joe had lettered in three college sports and was a company commander of an Army Corp of Engineers Company. The unique advantage of Ron and Joe was measured by the fact that hundreds of like-minded AYSO personnel existed in AYSO and their energies were awaiting a call.

Ron and Joe utilized the 1968-69 year as a foundation for change to propel AYSO futher forward and to support the AYSO Board of Directors to achieve greater heights. AYSO was on the brink of major growth and the difficulties of 1968-69 growth had to be met with a new spirit in the objectives of AYSO national goals. Understanding the 1968-69 challenges provided Ron and Joe with the essential objectives to address, i.e., age limitations.    

Hans Stierle had many important decisions to make especially in determining how AYSO players could feed into the all important high school athletic programs and thus grow youth soccer players into the main stream that all other American sports programs succeeded. The thousands of high school fields and hundreds of college fields must become instrumental in the growth of the "YOUTH TO ADULT" soccer programs that feed into the national and international Olympic and World Cup soccer games.

Soon there would be AYSO player graduates that would numerically overwhelm the high schools and colleges.  An oversupply of AYSO players would become SKILLED COACHES AND EXPERIENCED REFEREES first at the youth level and then the high school, college, and professional levels.

The key was to have AYSO set a top age limit in AYSO to have the players and parents pressure the high schools to commence the high school funded soccer programs. The following correspondence is an example of the AYSO study program that decided the upper age limit of AYSO players and its direct impact on growth in the high school soccer programs:
The request of April 2, 1968 by Hans Stierle of AYSO Inc. to the AYSO Officers and Commissioners to study the player age brackets, especially of high school ages, resulted in the exchange of correspondence between Hans Stierle, AYSO Inc President, and Joe Bonchonsky, Torrance/South Bay Division III commissioner as follows:


To: AYSO, Inc.

Attn: Hans Stierle, President                          May 24, 1968

Subject: Major Division Development

Reference: Your request, Same subject, April 2, 1968

The best procedure in accomplishing an objective is to fully evaluate the various approaches and then determine the most efficient procedure.

The month of May 1968 was expended in contacting graduates of AYSO from the Torrance Area for study purposes.

Players other than AYSO graduates were also invited, including West Torrance, South Torrance, Orange County and El Camino College.

In addition, the City of Torrance Recreation Department’s Summer Program was analyzed.

The success of baseball via Little League, High School, College, and Professional Leagues was evaluated to determine the advantages of the normal American route of success for American Youth.

The conclusions are as follows:

 1.     Graduates of 1967-68 AYSO Division I Torrance attend high schools that more than likely will include soccer in their athletic curriculum this coming year. This is especially more possible if the young men are not involved in AYSO. The objective of encouraging high school soccer would be reversed if AYSO provides the school system with an evasive alternate procedure.

 2.     The AYSO Major Division could best encourage soccer by conducting a Summer Program to better train high school students so that they submit strong requests upon the high schools to include soccer in their high school programs.  However, the City of Torrance Recreation Department has fulfilled this outlet and will have 16 teams of high school age playing four nights each week during the summer.

 3.     An AYSO Major Division of higher quality both in players and coaches than the high schools can provide as considered and desirable. A logical conclusion would result in high school players dropping out of high school soccer programs and over the years this may prove to be disadvantageous to the growth of soccer.

4.     The full impact is best placed on the populace for accentuating the growth of soccer and is more successfully accomplished at the youngest age bracket –Division III, under 10 – for two basic reasons. First, a young boy has less competition from other sports. Football (injury prone), basketball (height disadvantage), baseball (heavy bat, pitching inability). Secondly, parents are most interested in following their youngest athlete to see if he might fulfill their hidden dreams and as a result the sport of soccer is easily enhanced because the parent is educated and support is located therein.

5.     A totally new outlook on the life cycle of a young man involved in soccer may best provide a solution to the acceleration desired in the growth of soccer. As in other sports, a young athlete dreams the American Dream of being a Babe Ruth or a Jim Thorpe or a George Mikan, etc.  American Dreams in soccer are non existent. It is hopeful that Professional Soccer would fill the void and it may eventually accomplish this objective, if time and money permits. Professional Soccer is presently being massacred by the News Media and financially the professionals may postpone their present objectives. I hope not. It is here that AYSO must consider the objectives of a young man and provide him with an American Hero Image in soccer. AYSO with adequate time and patience will provide that first generation of soccer players and public involvement to successfully indoctrinate the soccer sport in America. The comment that this report makes to AYSO is that Americans are primarily impatient and time is not on our side. Too many good sports -from Europe – have been relegated to second class status or oblivion.  While it is quite evident that AYSO will succeed in its youth program because of sacrifice on the part of many adults and enthusiasm on the part of many youth, it is extremely important that AYSO consider all aspects and all avenues and especially those actions that may jet propel the youth, the high school system, the public interest, and the professional soccer leagues to undertake the financial loss during the present years until AYSO completes its first cycle of taking 7 year olds through 8 years of soccer education and provide them with an objective between Division I and professionalism. AYSO graduates must be deterred from simply providing graduates to semi-professionalism with its ethnic orientation and to only find out that their progress has been deviated. What truly is to be AYSO’s role? It must not be the feeding of fodder to a system that will not surpass the European soccer player.  

6. The initial request for quality amateur soccer players to meet for the Major Division Study resulted in a high quality in capabilities amongst the players. A total of three teams played during the four-week study. The desire was tremendous. However, the individuals were lost to “Where can they perform?” The high school soccer programs are in flux; the colleges – El Camino and Irvine - treat soccer as an intramural sport. These transition years for boys over 15 are painful. Basically, they need guidance and an attainable objective. The idea of an Olympic Team from the United States struck with overwhelming strength. Each boy was willing to do anything for the opportunity to try. The word “Olympic” provides that vitally important hero image. It is not an individual but an idea image that will have to suffice during these growing years. During this Olympic Year, the Public Relations available to AYSO in  “Its plans for a 1972 Olympic Team” would be incalculable. The Dreams to the American Youth, insurance to the professional teams of an attendance drawing player source, awakening of the public, etc. via an Olympic Division initiated by AYSO must be considered with utmost thought by AYSO in order to inform the concerned that soccer is here to stay and to be on top.


In conclusion, the following recommendations are made:

1.     AYSO drop the 16-18 Major Division because while it fills a void, it may actually create a bigger void in removing the pressure from the high schools to undertake their role. A tough but sane decision.
2.     AYSO adopt an “OLYMPIC TEAM DIVISION” in which boys 16-18 are encouraged to participate but a quantity per team are allowed above that age bracket to obtain the age of an Olympic Team in 1972. ….   or
3.     AYSO disassociate itself from the Major Division role but encourage its occurrence until the AYSO role is best determined. ….. or
4.     AYSO adopt an Olympic Philosophy and continue the study to determine the advantages to American Youth via the sport of soccer.

It is requested AYSO decide on one of the above four avenues in order for the undersigned to properly inform the players, who have applied, in time necessary for them to make appropriate plans.


                                          Joe Bonchonsky


The above Study Report resulted in the following reply from Hans Stierle, AYSO President



Dedicated to the fastest growing sport in America

                                                                                                                                       June 25, 1968

Dear Joe,

On behalf of the American Youth Soccer Organization. Thank you for your excellent study and report on the subject of “Major Division Development.”

Our Executive Members gave considerable time to discussion of your report and particularly your recommendations at a recent meeting and unanimously agreed to be guided by “Point #1 of same."

All Regional Commissioners reported that due to AYSO activity in their respective communities, High Schools were planning to field soccer teams and thus absorb numerous AYSO “graduates.”

It was further agreed that our efforts must continue to be concentrated in the lower age brackets, thereby virtually forcing High Schools to take action – as noted in your recommendation #1.

Again – a heartfelt thanks for the time and effort you devoted to this all-important issue,


                                        Yours in sport.

                              American Youth Soccer Organization, Inc.

                                                        (Signed by)

                                                Hans F.W. Stierle



The wisdom at the 1968 AYSO national level to look forward to the ultimate success route for their youth and the successful route to supply players, coaches, referees, and fans via AYSO early pioneer days is a strong indication why the Americanization of youth in soccer resulted in the AYSO success story.  In the present days (2012), high school, college, and professional soccer are filled with AYSO graduates as players, coaches, referees, administrators, and especially fans.

Most important, AYSO with its basic philosophy of EVERYONE INVITED and EVERYONE PLAYS on BALANCED TEAMS will result not only in the gifted player being discovered but also everyone physically enhanced.

The AYSO year 1968-69 with its many major decisions was now positioned for the best of growth.