The Ball That Was At the Beginning of It All

When we were doing some Spring cleaning, we came across a ball that was rather small and dirty, and we decided to display it in our glass case among some other balls we came across. At the time we did not know the story behind this ball, and it was not until our CEO Terry Fisher asked Karl Grosch, WA Youth Soccer Life Member, that we discovered the intertwining history of WA Youth Soccer and this ball. Here is the story as told by Karl Grosch.

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In 1961, a man from North Vancouver BC, named Jack Goldingay, came to the Greater Seattle area (Bellevue), and quietly announced his plan to sign up 8 and 9 year old boys in order to form teams with inexperienced parents as coaches and referees.

Goldingay formed four teams that year in Bellevue, which really was the beginning of what later became the Washington Junior Soccer Association (now Washington Youth Soccer).

This ball had been used during the years of 1961 through 1962 by two 9 year old boys teams from the Eastside (Bellevue area), as coached by Jack Goldingay.

Being from North Vancouver BC, Goldingay took his Washington team back to his home area and a North Vancouver team returned the compliment with each team’s parents hosting the visiting boys.  This was the beginning of the great “Canadian Exchange Program”, which eventually became the largest team sports exchange in the world.

In 1986, Jack Goldingay became a WSYSA Life Member and in 1999 became a Hall of Fame Member.

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And throughout the years the ball has remained in the office as a symbol of where we come from and the man who helped start it all.

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Coming Full Circle

By Terry Fisher, CEO

July 4th  while watching the Kirkland parade winding through town, two young men were behind my wife and myself watching from the outdoor restaurant seating, talking about soccer. They discussed the Euro 2012 final and the upcoming Seattle Sounders game that night against Real Salt Lake. They really enjoyed the entertainment of these events and exuded lots of knowledge and passion. They were FANS!

I was wearing a Washington Youth Soccer hat and polo shirt and they engaged  me in their chat. As it turns out—one had played Washington Youth Soccer through his childhood, participated in the Olympic Development Program, played in college, coached a successful youth team without pay until 2002, played adult soccer and now has young children that will be joining the program soon. He has season tickets to the Seattle Sounders FC and loves it!

The other fellow never played soccer, goes to every Sounders game he can and has become an ardent English Premier League follower. He played baseball and basketball as a high school kid. This soccer craze had caught his attention big time, and his kids are looking to start playing soccer. He is a convert to the game.

They had opinions on the champion Spaniards – how do they do what they do?  How do you beat them – I told them the USA did so a few years ago in a huge upset in Africa. Today – perhaps not.

They had opinions on the international friendlies played by the Sounders i.e. Barca, Celtic, Manchester United and upcoming Chelsea. They noted how cool it was to play them in front of sellout crowds and what that said about Seattle as Soccer City USA. They had opinions on every Sounders player and coach Sigi Schmid. One asked when we would play at the level of the EPL – one hundred years was suggested as a timeline.  We all laughed about what good fans we were and the pride we had in the Sounders’ success. We acknowledged the role that everyone for the past 46 years has played in getting us to this point – it is not an accident.

The point is that these two guys represent the young professionals that are the heart and soul of Washington Youth Soccer. I encouraged them to reach out and coach/manage a team together and re-engage. The soccer veteran teaching the new convert and having some fun!  These people are the future of the game in America.  From my point of view – we are in good hands. Go Sounders!

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Women’s Soccer Then and Now

2012 marks Washington Youth Soccer’s 40th year running youth soccer programs for girls, it also happens to be the 40th anniversary of Title IX legislation.  Within the first month of the year, we saw the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament take place in our own neighborhood – Vancouver, BC, where our  US Women’s National Team came out strong against Dominican Republic (14-0), Guatemala (13-0), Mexico (4-0), Costa Rica (3-0) and Canada (4-0).  With the defeat of Costa Rica in the Semifinal, the US Women won a berth into the 2012 London Olympics and now everyone is gearing up to see them perform again in July!  

We have also unfortunately seen the suspension of the Women’s Professional League this past week.  With all of this going on, it is timely and relevant to reflect on the state of women’s soccer – where the game has been and where it is going.  To help me, I have asked Kim (Stiles) Calkins, Washington Youth Soccer alum and current coach, to guest blog.  Kim grew up playing for WA Youth Soccer in Spokane – starting at the recreational level and then playing with the Spokane Sabers, Skyhawks Premier Soccer Club (now the Shadow), WA East State ODP team, and the Region IV ODP team.  She then went on to play for University of Portland and was also on the 1st Team All-WCC, U20 National Team, Women’s National Team Camps & Player Pool and the Women’s Professional Soccer team the Boston Breakers.  Kim has now come full circle and is bringing the game to today’s youth by coaching at Eastside FC. 

Welcome Kim!

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The New Year: A Time for Reflection

The end of the year is a wonderful time filled with many Holidays, which gives us all the opportunity to slow down, spend time with loved ones and reflect on the past year.  Over this Holiday Season, I have been thinking a lot about what our sport means to the lives of the children who play it.

Soccer is more than a ball on the field – more than the 90 minutes of playing your heart out – it is a foundation for creating all sorts of opportunities.  Soccer is a global game—it creates friendships around the world.  It unites countries and families and teaches players sportsmanship, confidence and the importance of community.

Thinking about the impact our game has of course brings me to our thousands of volunteers across our state that make our programs work.  I hope knowing there are thousands of happy, healthy kids throughout Washington brings you deep joy.

To our 115 thousand players & families, 20 thousand coaches, 6 thousand referees and thousands of administrators, I hope you are able to take a moment this season to think about what our soccer community means to you.

Happy New Year and thanks for making the game for all kids possible!

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Make Soccer a Bridge

In an interview posted on CNN.com today, FIFA President Sepp Blatter commented that there is no problem with racism in soccer. You can watch the full video below.

I find Blatter’s comments both ignorant and upsetting.  The sad truth is, racism does still exist, and therefore it is a problem in soccer.  In light of the news cycle today, we should all take a moment to stop and think.

What is the definition of racism?  It reflects a point of view and cultural bias.  Arrogance and ignorance. Unfounded and irrational. Stems from myth and folklore and not knowing or understanding the other.

The world is shrinking and we had better understand that people are all equal and have a basic right to be treated and respected without qualification.

Soccer CAN be a bridge to understanding and knowing the other, if we choose to make it so.  It is its own culture, its own language, and its own community, giving its members a shared identity, a shared background and a shared future.  Soccer has a collectiveness that can help eradicate racism and spread understanding.  If. We. Choose. To. Make. It. So.

As members and stewards of the soccer community, I urge us all to keep this is mind each day as we hit the field, coach, cheer from the sidelines, mentor our youth and grow the beautiful game.  We must be leaders in making it so.

We want to hear from you!  Over at Set Plays, Hillary Beehler asks “how do we turn discussions like this in the news into character-building opportunities for our players”.  What will you say if your player asks you about this news? Join the conversation at Set Plays - or tell us here!

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Soccer Builds Community

Soccer provides us with more than just a pastime or activity – when we participate in soccer we join a community that supports each other on and off the field. In my past 40 years  in the soccer community I have seen countless scenarios of support, caring and compassion given to those of our community in need.

On Oct. 22, two thousand miles away from Seattle in Dallas (TX), a field was dedicated to a young professional soccer player, Federico “Freddy” Garcia, who died of unknown causes in his sleep at age 24. He was fit, healthy, and only a few months away from graduating from university while pursuing his professional soccer career.  Because the autopsy report was inconclusive, his friends and family were left with many unanswered questions. Although his friends were unsure the cause of his death, they were sure that something must be done to honor Freddy.

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All About this Guy Keller

Sitting in the stands among the record crowd of 64,140 at CenturyLink Field this past Saturday, I was transported back to 1989…

Clive Charles and I are standing on the first tee at Half Moon Bay Golf Links and all he wants to do is talk about is this fabulously talented goalkeeper he has in Portland. “All the skills, all the tools, all the possibilities and an unlimited potential. He is going to be incredible. He can do it all. I am so impressed with this guy. All he needs is a chance.” He hits his tee shot down the s- curved par five and continues to ramble on about getting this kid a chance in Europe. By the fifth hole he is hitting a left-handed five wood out of a flat sand trap two hundred yards over water 10 feet from the pin and says “that’s how good Kasey Keller is going to be!”

It was the truth!!!!!

In 1989, Clive Charles was Kasey Keller’s coach at University of Portland. Clive passed away too early a few years ago but he was there in spirit among the record-breaking crowd on Saturday for Keller’s last regular season home game with the Seattle SoundersFC.

Kasey and Clive will be linked forever through youth soccer. What these two represent speaks volumes about talent, inspiration, mentorship, dedication and professionalism. Clive believed in Kasey and Kasey never let Clive down.

This is their story but it happens year after year in youth soccer with hundreds of youth across the country.  A player has a coach who believes in them, encourages them – and that player achieves great things because of it.  Those great things may be an opportunity for a career in soccer or it may be a player’s first goal.

It starts with a passion. It grows with practice. It grows with playing. It grows with coaching and mentoring.  Soccer is a lifestyle that connects people in very special and unique ways. Soccer creates great moments for yourself, your teammates, your family, your friends, and sometimes even for your fans.

The game gives back to you exactly what you are willing to invest.  So as we take time this week to reflect of Kasey’s fantastic career and offer him congratulations, get out there and build your legacy in the game!

And- yes- Clive made the putt for a birdie to win the hole just like Kasey would have done!

For complete details on Kasey’s long and decorated career, visit the Seattle Sounders FC team page.

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