1984- First 20 Years

The first ten years of AYSO soccer established the foundation of youth soccer in California and the movement to other States. The natural growth product was the revolution taking place in high school soccer. In 1964, the high schools of Southern California  with high school soccer numbered 6 high schools and most of them were Los Angeles Catholic parochial high schools with a large Latin student attendance. The AYSO graduation class of the late 60s and early 70s resulted in parental pressure for the California Interscholastic Federation of Southern California (CIFSS) to include the sport of soccer into their atheltic curriculum. The importance of AYSO graduates playing high school soccer is to enter the American Sports Way of progressing from youth, to high school, to college, and then the Olympics and professional level.
 
The soccer affiliated traditionalists in the USA wanted to follow the pattern of European soccer where "club" teams consisted of a youth program then an adult level that supported players moving directly into the professional levels. The AYSO soccer enthusiasts of the 60s and 70s made a major decision that, in America, AYSO would place education of many ahead of sports for a few. The decision was to have AYSO feed into the high school system of athletics, as was the custom in other American sports programs, and thereby have the support of tens of thousands of high school programs with their facilities and the high school soccer coaches would be supported by AYSO coach graduates to accelerate the training of the more skilled players before their entry into the college level. 
 
The second ten years of AYSO required a crucial maneuver because a goodly number of AYSO graduates entered high school soccer and the affiliated adult soccer programs wanted a faster system to acquire higher level of skills for an immediate result in national and international competition. The Pioneers of AYSO realized that the USA would best succeed in international competition by a "top quality from a maximum quantity" approach in that the best naturally skilled players would surface much earlier when everyone is invited first than a "concentrated" strategy from a limited number of players. AYSO became a major force not only in gathering a quantity of players through their AYSO Philosophy of Everyone Invited but also a concentration of training coaches and refereeing officials to support the high school program where the AYSO graduates would, in large numbers, surface with the quality players to advance to the college ranks. This crucial movement from AYSO to high school was accompanied with many AYSO adults becoming fully involved in supporting the high school soccer growth.        
 
Southern California became the ideal test bed of "youth to high school" for many reasons and its success would initiate the growth in all other States. Southern California high school soccer season was in the Winter after the high school football program season of the Fall. In addition, high school football coaches recognized that their higher quality of athletes actually emanated from their youth soccer programs; this resulted in a support of each other at the high school level. Soon, high school football fields with lights were used for high school soccer throughout Southern California.  The soccer traditionalists, again, joined the soccer enthusiasts and California colleges such as UCLA, loaded with local AYSO graduates who performed at high levels in high schools were NCAA national champs. El Camino college in Torrance,  California would become a supply system for many Southern California colleges as their local AYSO youth soccer programs flourished.
 
In addition to the youth to high school to college level being the American Way, the AYSO Pioneers developed an AYSO Philosophy of inviting every elementary school student in the Torrance Area that would become the standard invitation procedure for all regions, eventually. This Everyone Invited Philosophy would accelerate the national search for the most athletic youth to be found. While the skills in coaching and officiating were advancing, the quality players were located from a large quantity thus further advancing the American International status.
 
Probably the most illustrative presentation of the AYSO to high school success procedure was the AYSO  girls' program. The AYSO girls' program was initiated in a number of regions in Southern Caifornia in the early 1970s and after their high school and college programs, the first-ever Womens' World Cup Championship belonged to the United States of America. 
Proving that youth to high school to college was not only the optimum procedure in the USA, but also the number of soccer players that gained a college education was more important to AYSO  parents for the benefits to their offspring, boys and girls. 
 
 By the year 1984, most every high school in the CIFSS had boys' soccer  and soon most every CIFSS school would have girls' soccer.   A peek at the high school soccer statisics in 2011-2012 across the USA indicates  that 411,757 boys and 370,975 girls played soccer in 11,600 high schools. Most every college has soccer programs and this could only be accomplisghed when the soccer traditionalists and the soccer enthusiasts worked together in the American Way. 
 
In 2012, the number of high schools across the USA that have boys soccer programs totals 11,600 schools with 411,757 players. The number of high schools with girls' soccer programs totals 11,127 schools with 370,975 players. The combined number of high school players is 782,732 players. The State with the most players is California with 47,801 players at 1,254  high schools. The second State is Texas with 34,482 players at 582 high schools. The third State is New York with 23,669 players at 696 high schools. The fourth State is Pennsylvania with 290,440 players at 584 high schools. All 51 States have high school soccer programs except South Dakota. There are nine States with players numbering between 10,000 and 29,000. There are 32 States with players numbering between 1,000 and 10,000 players. 
 
During the first ten years of AYSO there were a number of Pioneers of AYSO who had the good fortune to play in many American Sports programs who experienced the American Way of  Sports, youth to high school to college. These men and women were aware of the century before when soccer traditionalists had their "club" programs based on ethnic requirements and although the "clubs" had limited success, the newly introduced soccer enthusiasts were not to be bound by the affiliated organizations procedure of concentrating on a limited number to arrive at the best players playing. The number of 411,757 high school boys and 370,975 high school girls playing soccer is testimony that the Pioneers of AYSO, adults and youth, were on the optimum path to the American Way. Not only were the best players playing but the number of soccer fans was accelerated.  
 
The advantage of high school soccer is that the accelerated training of coaches (and referees) was made possible through high school coaching programs with adults who had coaching skills in various sports. The influx of foreign-born soccer coaches into AYSO provided an excellent foundation of highly skilled youth to accelerate the high school programs.
 
The next step was to carry the forward movement into the colleges. In this National History of the Pioneers of AYSO, you will evidence the early year AYSO players becoming college coaches. like Sigi Schmid (UCLA), Marine Cano (CAL IRVINE), Andy Bonchonsky (CAL BERKELEY), and many more to be listed in this web site, that coached first in high schools, then the college ranks, and all with the solid foundation of playing in AYSO in their early youth days.
 
While un-affiliated AYSO had major difficulties with the USSF, especially concerning finances from youth programs going to adult operations, the willingness to work with the USSF was always at the helm of the Pioneers of AYSO. The AYSO ability to reach out across the many States with an all-encompassing program would not only locate the best of skilled players but also the millions of fans would eventually assist in filling the soccer stadiums at all levels. The annual contest between Santa Barbara college and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo college averages 13,000 fans. I remember refereeing a Santa Barabara college game in their early beginning when the fans were primarily player families. 
 
The first 20 years of the Pioneers of AYSO evidenced the growth of players and fans that carried across the high school game, the college game and eventually the Olympics and the professional leagues. The Women's Olympic games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the MLS games  at Seattle were in the future but the illustrative foundation of players and fans was evident during the first 20 years of AYSO. Let us review the high school soccer statistics as noted in the 2011-12 NFHSA WEBSITE.
 
                                                                                          HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER
    STATE                                                      BOYS                                                                        GIRLS
                                                  SCHOOLS           PARTICIPANTS                        SCHOOLS              PARTICIPANTS
 
Alabama                                        159                         3,972                                         146                               3,358
Alaska                                               36                            995                                           35                                  983
Arizona                                            184                        6,810                                         170                               5,911
Arkansas                                           77                        2,075                                          75                               1,718
California                                     1,254                      47,801                                     1,237                            43,332
Colorado                                         192                        7,265                                        201                               7,458
Connecticut                                    172                        7,104                                         155                              5,808 
Delaware                                          49                         1,908                                          49                               1,549
District of Columbia                          7                            143                                             5                                  120
Florida                                             557                       15,169                                       500                            14,842 
Georgia                                           360                       10,731                                       357                               9,777
Hawaii                                                53                         1,510                                         54                              1,718
Idaho                                                   68                         1,933                                        72                              1,938
Illinois                                               432                       19,464                                      394                            16,107
Indiana                                             292                          8,528                                      253                              6,412
Iowa                                                  148                          5,850                                      133                              4,894
Kansas                                            106                          4,134                                         87                              3,296
Kentucky                                          190                          6,066                                      191                              5,640
Louisiana                                        154                          4,513                                      144                              3,670
Maine                                               134                          4,743                                       131                              3,780 
Maryland                                          177                          6,251                                      175                              5,699
Massachusetts                              351                         13,518                                     345                            12,990
Michigan                                          482                         14,324                                     469                            13,654
Minnesota                                       241                            8,830                                     221                              8,090
Mississippi                                     125                            3,754                                    125                               2,403
Missouri                                           230                           8,193                                     226                              8,064 
Montana                                             30                               851                                       29                                 843
Nebraska                                           71                           2,536                                       75                              2,424
Nevada                                               66                           2,167                                       68                              2,282 
New Hampshire                               85                           3,073                                       80                              2,592
New Jersey                                     380                         18,240                                     356                           13,431 
New Mexico                                       71                            2,070                                       69                             2,031
New York                                         696                         23,669                                     700                           22,727
North Carolina                                361                        13,423                                      361                          12,132
North Dakota                                    15                               568                                        17                                538
Ohio                                                  588                        14,985                                      532                          14,256
Oklahoma                                       117                           2,850                                     114                             2,975
Oregon                                             177                          5,685                                      169                            5,019
Pennsylvania                                  584                         20,440                                     541                          18,935
Rhode Island                                    46                           1,641                                        47                            1,500
South Carolina                                 164                          5,466                                     140                            4,409 
South Dakota            
Tennessee                                       280                         7,179                                      269                            6,172
Texas                                                 582                       34,482                                      575                          30,989
Utah                                                    100                         3,209                                        99                            3,094
Vermont                                                37                        1,346                                        38                             1,282
Virginia                                               281                         9,896                                     279                             8,809
Washington                                      278                       10,337                                      270                            9,514 
West Virginia                                      74                         1,848                                         74                            1,589
Wisconsin                                         263                         9,318                                       251                           9,364 
Wyoming                                              24                            894                                         24                               857  
 
                    TOTAL                      11,600                    411,757                                  11,127                      370,975 

It is quite obvious that the Pioneers of AYSO in their first twenty years made the forward-looking correct decisions to orient the AYSO graduates to concentrate on first playing in their high schools. Every high school player dreams of playing for his high school and the great satisfaction therein. Soccer memories are establiashed for the rest of their lives.
 
The tremendous amount of finances and other resources to be provided by the high schools could not be gathered through a private funded operation. AYSO in California had a major role especially when in 1969, the AYSO commissioners of the South Bay centered in  Torrance decided to give 1/8 of the players' registration funds for AYSO National to invest in start-ups in other States. Soon thereafter, high schools in other States were also bombarded by AYSO graduates and their high schools implemented high school soccer.
 
AYSO is not stating that affiliated youth soccer on the East Coast did not impact their high schools but AYSO in California did accelerate the youth programs, affiliated and un-affiliated, across the United States by their AYSO Philosophies of Everyone Invited, Everyone Plays, on Balanced Teams. Most importantly AYSO implemented administrative growth actions that solidified the national impetus resulting in the American Way of youth to high school to college. It is here in the National Story of the Pioneers of AYSO and on its 50th Anniversary on August 15, 2014 that we commend all the volunteers in the affiliated and unaffiliated youth soccer programs who wisely invested their finances, energies, and wisdom of staying the course to grow the youth soccer programs in the USA to its present-day successes. 
 
While the finances required to outfit, coach, officiate, transport, and maintain playing sites, is comparatively economical for high school soccer, a conservative estimate is approximately $100 per player per season. With a total of  782,732, boys and girls, the approximate cost equates to $78,273,200, and that is annually. During the first ten years of AYSO youth soccer, the parents and players who petitioned their high schools to include soccer not only provided a sport most applicable to a majority of the average sized high school students but also to involve them most fully into an improved educational outlook.   
The Starte of California and especially the City of Torrance that initiated the AYSO PHILOSOPHY OF EVERYONE INVITED leads all States in participants and it continues to grow. From 2007 to 2011, a five year period has resulted in a high school player growth from 44,722 boys and 40,895 girls, totaling 85,617 in 2007-2008 year to  47,801 boys and 43,332 girls, totaling 90,833, a 6% growth. There are 20,000 high schools in the USA and the sport  of soccer with 11,600 high schools reveals that there are  8,400 high schools to be introduced to soccer programs. The AYSO youth soccer program, and others, were instrumental in providing players and parents to implement high school programs and with youth soccer growing it is estimated that there will soon be over 1,000,000 high school students, boys and girls, playing and enjoying the sport of soccer.  
 
The quality of play at the high school level improves and the best selection process for Olympic and professional players will, in fact, be accelerated. The success of the USA Womens Olympic and National Soccer Teams, men and women, is proof positive of AYSO's impact via our youth programs. While the USA men's program improves rapidly, the full success story is on the way. The USA grows in international rankings and when AYSO has finally invited every elementary school student  in the entire USA to play soccer, the most naturally skilled players will be made available for the high school, to college, to the international ranks.  
 
During the first 20 years of AYSO, from 1964 to the year 1984, the vision of AYSO leaders, at all levels, maintained a strong independent American Way to grow soccer and those of us who recognized that placing the youth before the sport would be the most successful.  It is quite obvious that AYSO Philosophies in every State is fast becoming the unified procedure for not only growing our youth, boys and girls, but also growing the sport of soccer to its rightful place in the USA.  It is strongly anticipated that the youth conscious leaders in AYSO will maintain and grow the AYSO Philosophies by their independent regional actions throughout the USA while implementing the American Way. 1984 was a major milestone in the progress of AYSO and today, August 15,  2014, we are not only extremely proud of the first 20 years of the Pioneers of AYSO but also of today's Pioneers of AYSO that carry the banner high as noted not only in the statistical progress but also the active participation of EVERYONE INVOLVED.  
 
The first twenty years of Pioneers of AYSO now observe the Pioneers of AYSO today  enjoying the results of over 6,000,000 graduates and 550,000 active players enjoying the growth process of AYSO where EVERYONE IS INVITED and EVERYONE PLAYS on BALANCED TEAMS.. 
 
 
Comments