By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
December 5, 2017-With over 2,100 players, the Garden City Centennial Soccer Club is the largest club in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA). The club’s name derives from the fact that it was founded in 1969, the 100th anniversary of the Village of Garden City. Over 100 alumni, both men and women, played in the club’s Alumni Games at Garden City High School over Thanksgiving weekend.
Yet most of its games are not played at the high school because for the past 25 years, the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) club has been using the St. Paul’s Recreation Complex as a home base. The fields are kept in immaculate condition by Garden City’s Department of Recreation. Other sports currently being played at St. Paul’s include lacrosse and baseball as the complex has a long history.
A century ago, after the 1917 World Series concluded, the pennant winning teams, the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants, came to St. Paul's to play an exhibition game to entertain the soldiers of a United States Army division, which was encamped nearby in Garden City. The White Sox players included those soon to become infamous in the Black Sox Scandal two years later.
The brother of President Trump, Fred Trump, graduated from St. Paul’s in 1956. Their father, Fred Trump Sr., financed the renovation of the soccer field, which was, not surprisingly, temporarily renamed Trump Field.
In the late 1960s, the New York Jets entered into discussions to use St. Paul’s as their practice facility but the parties could not agree to terms, and the Jets wound up using nearby Hofstra University instead for the next four decades. In 1991, St. Paul’s owner, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, entered bankruptcy, and being forced to sell its assets, St. Paul's School shut down yet the recreation complex is still thriving, 26 years later.
In the recently completed Fall Season, Garden City Centennial used 20 soccer fields there––one large travel team field, two regular travel team fields, two small-sided travel team fields, two 3rd grade intramural fields, two 2nd grade fields and 11 clinic fields for kindergarten and 1st grade players.
In the spring, lacrosse uses the northern half of the facility and soccer uses the southern half for one large, one medium and two small-sided travel team fields, plus the 11 clinic fields. Plus there’s baseball in the northeast portion of the complex during the spring.
Under the direction of club president Rick Harken, soccer registration has grown each year to the point that it is now the largest independent youth recreational organization in the history of Garden City. Besides the large numbers, quality soccer is being played as evidenced by the fact that Girls-Under-10 Garden City Crushers and Girls-Under-12 Garden City Xtreme both won Arch Cup-Platinum and the Garden City High School boys won the Long Island championship, all during 2017.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.