PLAYERS 90                                                                                                      TEAMS 6




The second year of AYSO proved that the trials and tribulation of the five founders over the starting of an American approach to youth soccer and their background of “old country” procedures for soccer amongst the youth of America was necessary to mediate to not only survive but also to grow. 

The Jefferson Elementary School field in West Torrance, the only AYSO field in Torrance and her wooden goal posts that would often be damaged by older boys who simply did not understand that there was room for all sports, captured the imagination of many families whose sons lived and treasured the freedom of athletic expression in the world’s number one sport. Soccer, an unregimented sport, provides each player with the opportunity to select from many different choices of play to develop leadership skills. In effect, the player on the field of play enhances his/her skills by the independence in selecting the next play, the next step on the journey of working together as a member of the team.

Statistics present a method of measurement and although the AYSO West Torrance region increased (from four teams to 6, ages 8-13), 50% over the previous year, it was still only a growth of two teams. The lessons learned in achieving competitive youth soccer were numerous especially in the need for a Division II separating the older youth from the younger youth and thereby increasing the competitiveness on the field of play. The lessons learned during the second year of AYSO play were seriously received by AYSO management and their independent control of AYSO, not affiliated, provided the necessary freedom to Americanize youth soccer operations.

The key to AYSO management in youth soccer was to (1) survive in the initial years from the good but shortcoming intentions of the “old country traditionalists” who meant well but tradition had to be dismantled to attain success in America with her multiplicity of national backgrounds. And (2), the awareness that the five founders experienced in their many previous attempts to start youth soccer programs had to be exercised not only with perseverance in not re-introducing the “previous wrongs” but to continue to innovate the changes during the first decade that would catapult the growth of AYSO as an excellent example throughout the United States.

One, today, might consider a two-team growth in Torrance as being insignificant but for those of us that participated in the growth, it was a major accomplishment. Wooden goal posts required constant maintenance. Soccer balls from VOIT, the only USA manufacturer, were made of a composition that would only suffice on a basketball court. Soccer balls were a novelty in the retail stores. Uniforms were manufactured on the East Coast.  

The soccer season would run into the beginning of Little League baseball. But most of all, “old country” sports, like soccer and rugby, had a bad connotation in that they were considered foreign sports and most American parents had no idea of the beauty of the sport therein. Soccer was like chess and ballet, out of sync for the nominal American family.

The advantage of the City of Torrance and surrounding communities was the “brain drain” from the old country due to the Aerospace Industry that resulted in many former soccer players settling in the Los Angeles area noted as the South Bay. The complication was that a multitude of countries were insisting upon their “old country” traditions in the style of play and the natural desire to “load” your team to win at all costs. The battle between the “old” and the “new” had to be overcome and the philosophies of AYSO became the convincing factor, first amongst the American born parents and then the old country born parents. America, the land of immigrants required patience, fortitude, and compromise. 

The competition in the second year of AYSO was awesome in that the six teams in the Torrance region were coached primarily by “old country” former players and the best skilled players from the first year were retained by the first year coaches. While the competition was very competitive and the growth limited, the ability to witness the cause of the limited growth was evident to AYSO management. Statistics revealed that AYSO Inc. grew from 9 teams to 19 teams (over 200%) (but still only an addition of 10 teams) and regions were added throughout Los Angeles County. The complications of not including more boys especially in the younger ages actually necessitated forming at least two age groups (11-14 and 8 to 10) in the following third year.

Retention of players by the coaches had multiple differing effects. For example, the more qualified coaches provided benefits to their players who were retained from year to year but the coach, least successful, retained players who would be limited to years of lesser attainment of skills. The magnificence of AYSO was the ability of AYSO to update their AYSO Rules and Regulations independent of outside influences. It was determined that not only was the growth in numbers important but also the measurable growth in skills within competition would place the interests of the youth before the interests of the sport. Albeit, the key AYSO persons in the increasing number of AYSO regions involved would present challenges and eventually solutions to the Americanization of youth soccer.

The addition of two new teams (Blue Jets and Comets) to the first year four teams (Panthers, Firefighters, Bulldogs, and Hornets) in Torrance resulted in the two new teams at the bottom of the six-team league. AYSO management recognized the complications of retention but it would take years before the “old country” coaches would accept no retention of players. While this circumstance was easy to acknowledge, the patience of AYSO management was required. Power house dynasties seemed to be on the horizon and knowing that youth soccer in other youth soccer organization had limited growth because of this issue, AYSO management would have to solve the problem in order to grow by having the first time players compete fairly.     


The valuable lessons learned by Hans Stierle, Bill Hughes, and Steve Erdos (most active of the original 5 founders), from their many years of starting youth soccer programs as administrators and coaches, provided the tenacity not to follow the previous failure routes but to be adamant in the concerns of each and every player. While this atmosphere was strong in West Torrance, other regions of AYSO combated the same difficulties and together they would overcome the roadblocks but with varied results and initial growth would be more difficult to complete.

The second year of AYSO was marked with great accomplishments in locating the best growth route and the foundation for the coming years was fully established by the management of AYSO, still in its infancy.