PLAYERS: 1,395                                                                                              TEAMS: 93














The Torrance year of engineers, eight engineers at Garrett-AiResearch in the City of Torrance worked ten hours a day, 6 ½ days a week, 52 weeks a year, to design, manufacture, and test the “Life Support System” for the Mercury  (one man), Gemini (2 man), and Apollo (three man) Space ships that would fulfill President Kennedy’s objective of a “man” landing on the moon within the decade of the 60s. These same men who completed most of their research and design efforts by 1965 were accustomed to long hours of devotion and serving, but now their families would be prioritized first.

At the end of the 1968-69 season and for four months, Ron Littlefair and Joe Bonchonsky met 6 evenings a week and left no stone unturned as they evaluated the first five years of excellent accomplishments in the Sourth Bay of Los Angeles but still in need of major improvements in most all categories. Night after night, Ron and Joe detailed the goals to be achieved and the best routes to accomplish them. The major ingredient for success was leadership in each of 8 new regions from within one region. Timing was of essence but region status was not available for the eight. Ron and Joe titled them Districts with all the authority and responsibility of a regional commissioner except voting at the National Office meetings and the "times have changed."

Eight engineers who loved to play bridge during the half-hour lunch period with the goal of playing the most hands possible were to revolutionize the AYSO growth process. During these daily bridge tournaments, the men mentioned the thrills their sons were experiencing in South Bay AYSO youth soccer. Four of the eight commissioners were from the “old country” and four American born. Joe Bonchonsky, Program Control Manager on the three space programs, informed Ron Littlefair that seven of the bridge players lived in different towns of the South Bay (the eight District Commissioner, Geoff Richardson, as a coach in Manhattan Beach, was Joe’s second son AYSO coach and non-AiResearcher) and they all volunteered to be District Commissioners (if Joe agreed to not be their regular bridge partner).

The most important ingredient in AYSO growth will always be the region commissioner who carries the chore of correct decision making and always with the “youth before the sport.” These eight district commissioners (to be regional commissioners the next year) formed the most aggressive gathering of regional leaders to accelerate AYSO growth beyond the best of dreams. AYSO National grew from 72 teams at the end of the 1967-68 playing season to 216 teams at the beginning of the 1969-70 season with 93 teams in the South Bay alone (43% of the AYSO total).  

Eight men as District Commissioners and two Region responsible Commissioners accomplished outstanding achievements starting out with inviting every single Elementary School Student in the entirety of the South Bay. Tens of thousands of single page flyers were distributed to the elementary school teachers (via the approving principal) (and School BOD), first in the City of Torrance to verify the procedure and eliminate the bugs, and then throughout the entire South Bay.

Each potential player had to be accompanied by a parent to register. If the parent had an “old country” accent, he was automatically asked to be a coach. If he declined, he was advised that if his son was on a team without a coach, the entire team would be dropped. We had a multitude of coaches, assistant coaches, refs, field maintenance men, and team mothers, EVERYONE INVITED and EVERYONE PARTICIPATED. We were overwhelmed by the results, which naturally was the result of hard work during the previous five years of a solid foundation within AYSO operations.      

Previous years required BALANCED TEAMS but the AiResearch engineers wanted the cooperation and participation of coaches who, after all, were the best judges of talent to be evaluated. Ron Crabtree, an Englishman and an AYSO experienced coach detailed the following: In a league of six teams; each coach would select a team, round robin, one player at a time, but not knowing that the team each selected would be his team to coach. The assigned team numbers were drawn out of a hat, and the coach’s son added. No greater season of competitive soccer existed before the 1969-70 season. No one sided scores, but most of all, this “balanced team” operation provided each team with equal opportunities for the leadership skills to be developed when, like in life, different levels of ability exist in various groups that have to work together. This continuing improvement of AYSO philosophies and operations is what makes AYSO unique and most successful.

As you will witness, the compromise between “old country traditionalists” and new country enthusiasts” was necessary to Americanize youth soccer through an un-affiliated soccer program. If AYSO followed the foreign ethnic traditions, youth soccer in America would have continued in a very limited fashion. PIONEERS OF AYSO of the 1960s wanted an association with the affiliated USSF but not at the expense of youth funds financing adult soccer. When AYSO turned over her youth players to the high school soccer programs, AYSO not only completed the Americanization of youth soccer but the increased high school funds and the objective of making soccer affordable to every youth in America was provided.  AYSO was fully aware that the AYSO quantity of players would provide the gifted athlete to the high school programs. Quantity first is the foundation and at the lowest cost to every participant is the AYSO success procedure. "Maintaining a national youth soccer program at the most reasonable cost" while "providing the maximum support services" was the cry in the 1960s and its continuation provides Americans with their best position in promoting the sport we all love.      

The eight commissioners in the South Bay, working together, shared many duties.  Alec Anderson, the Scot, was assigned to determine the distribution of the $7 per player registration fee (1$ for AYSO Development in new areas, $2 for Medical coverage, 1$ to AYSO National, $3 for regional operation and equipment). (Joe Bonchonsky became the first president of the Torrance Soccer Parents Organization, with the objective of raising $150 per team sponsorship). Chuck LaFranchi and Dan Matulich assigned to take steps to manage the referees organization, Terry McAffee and Dick Smisek assigned to the determination of the player’s playing time. Bob Greenwood and Geoff Richardson (two coaches) became advisors for the improvement of coaching. Ron Crabtree was to solve the Balanced Team Philosophy. The advantage of these eight commissioners working together on special assignments was the fact that all eight participated on the committees of each other. The decisions implemented by these eight commissioners working as one with Ron Littlefair and Joe Bonchonsky resulted not only in a major growth and efficiency of procedures but also provided the impetus for the numerical quantum leap forward within AYSO.  This cooperation between eight district commissioners with their two region commissioners established the 1960s was a "miracle" for youth soccer; the die was cast in the 60s. 

Bill Hughes, one of the five founders, became instrumental in awakening AYSO to the need for better uniforms and better soccer balls. He formed MODSOC Company with H.Y. Hung, and appointed Joe Bonchonsky president of MODSOC. We hired 23 seamstresses in Torrance to manufacture the best design of uniforms and made arrangements for 10,000 soccer balls from the same plant in Shanghai that Britain purchased their top quality leather soccer balls. MODSOC solved many problems for AYSO and after two years, AYSO objectives for improved equipment were accomplished.

The wooden goal posts of the first years had to be replaced because of high maintenance. Herb Schoenfeld, a professional welder from North Torrance volunteered to manufacture the first 15 units free and train the three sons of Joe Bonchonsky to weld the next 200 sets of goal posts. With “used” oil well metal tubing purchased by the tons from Signal Oil & Gas (Jim Crawford), 200 sets of goal posts were manufactured and delivered to far way sites from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. The J.B. Soccer Equipment company was a not-for-profit company with the expressed purpose of solving a costly expense for both AYSO and the high schools in Southern California.

Ron Littlefair, the commissioners’ commissioner in both patience and service, truly manufactured the solution to the AYSO's  earliest financial problem. Although 1969 was relatively early in the number of players, medical coverage took 28% of the registration fee and with our AYSO National objective of always keeping the registration fee at its lowest, Ron, with a vocation as an insurance specialist, devised a self-insurance program that had Frank Pisciotta, the AYSO National Treasurer state, “What do I do with all of this money?” In the Early days of AYSO, like today, AYSO monies are carefully budgeted and controlled. The volunteer service of Ron Littlefair to provide finances while solving the medical insurance complexities will rank as one of the best of actions taken by AYSO to be financially secure.

The season of 1969-70, especially in the South Bay and the other regions of Southern California will always be known as the “ACCELERATION YEARS in AYSO GROWTH.” Monies were assigned to provide growth in other States, playing time changed from ¼ to ½ of each game for each player, a balanced team procedure was formalized, major improvement in soccer equipment (goal posts, uniforms, and soccer balls), coaching and reffing schools. Skilled AYSO graduates entered high school soccer programs, and while these accomplishments were achieved, eight men with their special engineering training provided the closest commissioners’ operation in the early years of AYSO.   

AYSO South Bay Region (centered in Torrance) became eight regions and the graduates of those years not only resulted in every high school in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section to initiate boys’ soccer but eventually 90% of CIFSS schools would implement girls’ soccer programs in the years ahead. The earliest of AYSO objectives was to have soccer growth Americanized through the normal American channels of youth, high school, college, professional and then the Olympics and the World Cup. The objective of seeking the gifted child in every town and hamlet throughout the United States was well underway by the procedure developed in the AYSO YEAR, 1969-70. EVERYONE INVITED made EVERYONE PLAYS our national AYSO philosophies a major achievement along with BALANCED TEAMS, with other philosophies to follow.

One problem, yet unsolved, is the difficulty of achieving the best in reffing soccer. It took a riot named the “WATTS RIOTS” to provide an opportunity for the Pioneers of AYSO to solve soccer refereeing mechanics and success in solving the referee shortage. The Three Refs On the Field (TROF) referee soccer mechancs system are detailed in  APAYSO at the National level herein.  AYSO with her independent operation was a necessity to allow the well-intended ethnic groups to merge together and with the priority of "youth before soccer" as a guide, the years ahead will allow the "soccer mechanics in reffing" to provide "fair play," an essential ingredient of the  PIONEERS OF AYSO partricipation in world soccer.