1971-72

PLAYERS 11,160                                                                      TEAMS  742

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PRESIDENT HANS STIERLE                           EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT DONALD DUNNE
VICE PRESIDENT BILL WOLSTENCROFT   VICE PRESIDENT RON LITTLEFAIR
SECRETARY AL ROTHMAN                             TREASURER FRANK PISCIOTTA
 
 AYSO was growing rapdly and in 1971-72 reached 742 teams, 706 boys teams and 36 girls teams. The regions are noted as follows:
 
#      LOCATION                   COMMISSIONER                      #  BOYS TEAMS                  #   GIRL TEAMS
 
1     Northern Calif                 Karl Bizjak                                            60                                             0
2     Sierra Madre/                  Larry Littleton                                       50                                             0 
       Arcadia 
3     Claremont/                      Al Vecchio                                             69                                             0
       Glendora
4.    San Bernandino/            Bob Bollinger                                       16                                             0 
       Rialto
5.    Orange County               Bob Schmid                                          22                                             0
7.    West Los Angeles         Alec Anderson                                      54                                             0
8.    San Fernando Valley     Ron Ricklefs                                         50                                           10 
9.    Conejo Valley                 Erich Lodders                                       54                                             0
10.  Palos Verdes                 Dan Matulich                                       102                                             2
11.  Rolling Hills                   Chuck LaFranchi                                  48                                           10
12.  South Torrance              A.Y.Olds                                                 37                                             0
14.  West Torrance               Dick Smisek                                          43                                           14 
15.  Torrance/Wilmington    Al Petrus                                                20                                              0
16.  North Torrance/              Bob Martin                                             25                                              0
        Compton      
17   Redondo Beach             Bob Greenwood                                  24                                               0
18   Manhattan  Beach          Peter Albrecht                                      32                                               0
 
Although AYSO was concentrated initially in Southern California, the addition of girls to the AYSO soccer program, coupled with the potential growth in other States, the awesome growth of AYSO with its volunteer organization was the hallmark of "parents leading" in the years ahead. With the involvement of the AYSO girls soccer program, the individual families became "whole" in that it was a full "family sport." It can be understood that in the century before AYSO the USA youth soccer programs needed to strike the American balance of volunteer effort of the parents in coaching, refereeing, and administration in order to capture the spirit of American soccer.  The 1970's became the thrust forward of AYSO and every admiinstrator therein knew that we were on the right track with the best formula for inundating the entire nation and all sports therein "by example." While the challenges ahead were huge the foundation was established. AYSO coaches were coming forth from the AYSO graduates of the 1960's and it was imperative that AYSO was to be independent in order to continue with the youth remaining first before the sport. 
 
AYSO with her many increasing  Philosophies, and the "cry" to play from the young girls in each AYSO Family, entered a new phase, "girls' soccer," and the entire nation would open their arms to the totality of youth in sports via AYSO. Mario Machado, a television sports broadcaster, Hollywood actor, and soccer "traditionalist and enthusiast", championed the entry of girls into the AYSO National level and soccer world. Don Hazzard and Dick Smisek of West Torrance, Chuck LaFranchi of Rollng Hills, and Dan Matulich of Palos Verdes  were most responsible for the changing differential that would distinguish American soccer from other countries. The full beginning of "girls' soccer" is also attributed to others but with the full support of Mario Machado at the AYSO National level, AYSO reached outward and leaped forward via their girls' soccer program. Soccer in the Americas would become a more visible entity and because of this vital step forward, the USA would expand girls' soccer throughout the Americas at an accelerated pace. AYSO girls' soccer would folow the American Way of youth to high school and college and very soon the National Team of Womens' soccer would capture the world's imagination in the World Cup and Olympics. The rapid rise of the women was accomplished in 20 years and "Soccer in America" was now envied around the world.  Not only would AYSO set the standards through EVERYONE INVITED but now the gifted girl soccer player was in full search.
 
The AYSO story in California was unbelievable. In 1964 there were only six Catholic High schools with boys soccer programs in Los Angeles and with AYSO graduates inundating the high schools in the 60s, not only did every high school on Southern California, CIFFSS, have botys' soccer but soon 90% of the same high schools had girls' soccer. There will be many claims to the growth of soccer in the USA, but the AYSO GIRLS' SOCCER PROGRAM will rank at the top based on the eventual Olympic and World Cup achievements. 
 
There was another great achievement in the 60s and that was the quality of soccer. Many foreign coaches in AYSO with their homebred national style of play was beginning to develop a style of play. With the quality of youth soccer continuing its growth from this early initial influx of "old country" soccer coaches, the "new and old country" coaches were poised to unify the best of the variety. First, AYSO was to reach out into every hamlet to seek that youngster, boys and girls, that would signature America worldwide. Those of us in the 1960s and the 1970s had that "feeing" that not only would our youth learn leadership skills on the field of play but would also catapult the American youth into that "learned" generation after the "greatest" generation. AYSO was not only on a solid foundation now but also willing to spread her wings. American soccer coaches were now emanating from the AYSO program and in large numbers. Soon the high schools and colleges would be coached by Americans and the quality of play would now be on an accelerated upswing. No longer would the USA men's soccer games against foreign teams be lopsided but soon the USA men's team defeated Italy, France, Brazil, etc.  Soccer in America was no longer considered a foreign sport and AYSO wouls share strongly in scoring that goal.    
 
 In the first decade of AYSO soccer, controlling the AYSO growth within their AYSO philosophies was the hallmark of the AYSO leadership by insisting that AYSO RULES AND PROCEDURES were to be followed. The more difficult opposition was by “some individuals” within the “affiliated soccer establishments.” While there were some attempts by the members of both AYSO and USSF to be affiliated together, the demands of the USSF to receive monies from a youth organization to an adult organization was the major stumbling block. The opposite in monetary flow was the “new country" procedure that AYSO deemed realistic. Now, we needed communications with all other soccer organizations.There was a great advantage to soccer growth when the magazine SOCCER WEST (forerunner of SOCCER AMERICA) was initiated in Northern California. Clay Berling, founder and editor of Soccer West, provided an avenue for both affiliated and unaffiliated soccer organizations to openly contest each other and debate the issues nationwide. One can not underestimate the value of two-way communications.

Communications concerning the activities of AYSO in the implementation of her philosophies and the growth resulting thereafter when spread across the United States needed a full time soccer news medium. SOCCER WEST/ SOCCER AMERICA under the tutelage of Clay Berling fulfilled that vital connection for the AYSO STORY to be told.

Clay Berling would play the role of mediator amongst all the levels of soccer, as each would profess their individual approach to soccer success. It is to be remembered that soccer organizations in the United States always had their way of communicating internally but until SOCCER WEST / SOCCER AMERICA came into being with Clay Berling’s support of the affiliated and the unaffiliated organizations, soccer organizations presented only their interpretations of the steps that they deemed would succeed in the United States.

SOCCER WEST, founded in Northern California, specifically Berkeley and Albany, provided not only the “old country” point of view but also the American born. For example, Brian Pugh of Coventry, England and Joe Bonchonsky of Pittston, Pennsylvania, both of West Torrance, California, working together at Garrett-AiResearch in the City of Torrance, collaborated to present the AYSO point of view. With over 100 articles in Soccer West / Soccer America,  Brian Pugh, AKA Pat Ireland, and Joe Bonchonsky, AKA John England and Soccer Advisory Council, provided excellent ammunition to increase the discourse necessary for youth soccer to be fully appreciated via AYSO accomplishments. Brian and Joe were coaches in AYSO West Torrance and with their different backgrounds, Brian in Coventry and Joe a three-letter athlete in USA college sports competition (Wyoming Seminary in Kingston PA,  Kutztown STC, and Penn State University), Brian and Joe, together, compared their approaches to solidify the correctness of their commentary. Soon the AYSO input to SOCCER WEST / SOCCER AMERICA included many other prolific soccer writers, including Paul Harris and Larry Harris of Manhattan Beach, CA, the authors of “FAIR OR FOUL” and at least a dozen other books to foster the growth of soccer in the United States.

AYSO was a prime beneficiary from SOCCER WEST / SOCCER AMERICA because for too long youth soccer needed a national "open" voice throughout the Americas. Clay Berling, always fair, will always be remembered as a champion, tireless in his dedication to soccer and priceless in his expenditure of hard work, time and treasure. SOCCER AMERICA will always be fully recognized in the success story of both the affiliated and un-affiliated in the trying growth period. 
   
Joseph Bonchonsky wrote many challenging articles defending the unaffiliated needs for success while many affiliated writers (not officially representing USSF) vented their opposition to AYSO. For example, Soccer West, Volume 2, Number 3, dated January 18, 1972, is a classic example of the opposition by members of affiliated soccer who were fully engrained in “old county ways, ” as noted below, starting with the comments of an affiliated soccer commissioner in the affiliated Southern California Youth Soccer Organization.
 

“In contrast is the isolationist stance of the un-affiliated organizations such as AYSO. They are not able to play international matches (as we hope to do soon) since they have varied quite a bit from the international standards accepted by the rest of the world and therefore considered “outlaws” by the international soccer community.”  …. “We are also concerned that un-affiliated groups like AYSO, who develop their own rules and “spirit” of the game, are rendering their players unfit for future international competition. On the other hand, they (AYSO) rigorously enforce such oddities as “no retention” of players from year to year” …. “every boy plays regardless of ability” … “balanced teams” …... which in the long run will only dull the competitive urge of the players.”

“If all factors are pre-measured and controlled, what point is there in engaging in battle?” If one’s feelings are to be hurt, why play a competitive game? What kind of competitive edge can a boy develop in a system like this?

“On the other hand, and in spite of all this, the Soccer Advisory Council winds up their column by “calling” for a “powerful World Cup team from the United States.” It is this dichotomy between the desire for international competitiveness and the stifling effects of AYSO’s so-called “growth rules” which leads us to hesitate in declaring the un-affiliated movement in youth soccer a “God-send.”                     

 

In reply, by the Soccer Advisory Council (Joe Bonchonsky),
 
“Today, looking back, the AYSO regions, especially in the City of Torrance and the South Bay, led by four American-born and four “old country-born” commissioners, in 1969, accentuated the AYSO rules for “no retention” and “balanced teams” with the EVERYONE INVITED to EVERYONE PLAYS procedure to catapult AYSO (and American soccer) forward. For decades, affiliated youth soccer in the USA had minimal growth and no procedure for seeking the “gifted athlete,” secretly located in some uninvited locale, and AYSO through its EVERYONE INVITED and to eventually flow through the proven American success route of youth, high school, and college for other American Sports. Seeking the “gifted athletes,” by inviting all is the AYSO procedure for World Cup success. The USA Women’s World Cup soccer team is a classic example of the astute procedure of AYSO assisting. It is a matter of time for the AYSO boy’s youth team procedure to reach out all across the country and invite the gifted player who is a result of EVERYONE INVITED.

The success of professional soccer with full stadiums in many USA cities is a direct result of the foresight of the early PIONEERS of AYSO and the adherence and continuation of PIONEERS of AYSO leaders of today. The fact that AYSO placed “Y” before “S” in AYSO is a credit to not following the “old country affiliated traditions” and to creatively improve by instituting "American Traditions.”

                                                                                                                             

Fortunately, over the many years of the affiliated and un-affiliated going their separate ways, together, they allowed the sport of youth soccer to flourish to today’s success and tomorrow’s unlimited potential. Without the freedom of independence in AYSO to Americanize the process of reaching out to everyone with its EVERYONE PLAYS and BALANCED TEAM via EVERYONE INVITED, the success story at all levels of soccer in America would be delayed.                                                                                                                                               

 A BIG THANK YOU TO CLAY BERLING.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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