The Shrub Oak Shamrocks with George "Spike" Souls is in the center in back.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 14, 2013-George "Spike" Souls was inducted into the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) Hall of Fame in 2009 along with current EHYSL President Jim Purdy and Carl Fohrenbach. The 73-year-old Yorktown resident has coached an amazing 23 youth soccer teams since 1980.
"I became involved in coaching when my son Kevin, then eight years old, decided he wanted to play," Spike commented. "I watched him play, took a course and the coach needed help so I became his assistant on the Yorktown Strikers. When the coach and his son moved on to a Division 1 team, my son had no coach so he said, ‘Why don’t you be the coach.’ And I agreed."
Under his tutelage, the Strikers won two consecutive EHYSL division championships.
Spike added, "The same situation happened with my daughter Ann Marie. My daughter’s coach moved on so since she had no coach, I became her coach on the Yorktown Honeybees."
Spike went on to coach a girls team named the Yorktown Strikers, winning a few championships along the way in addition to an undefeated season. When Ann Marie was older, both of them together coached four- and five-year-old intramural players in Yorktown.
Around the turn of the millennium, Spike’s wife Eleanor asked him to take a break from coaching as their kids were grown up. That break lasted one season until the Shrub Oak Athletic Club asked him to become a coach. Spike served as Head Coach for the entire soccer program for nearly three years and today coaches his granddaughter Anna on the Shrub Oak Cheetahs, a team of eight- and nine-year-olds. He is currently the manager for their recreation program to boot.
Spike has made a career out of taking players who couldn’t make a competitive travel team, had very few soccer skills and lacked soccer sophistication tactically and devoted himself to instilling in them a love of the game and a desire to improve as athletes. He certainly coaches every match with a goal to win but it has never been how he defines success. Rather, he focuses on development and making sure the kids are enjoying a learning experience and stretching themselves as athletes and individuals.
"I first met Spike 21 years ago when he coached my daughter’s East Hudson Select team. He did a very nice job and the team was successful that summer and the ladies thoroughly enjoyed the experience," commented former EHYSL President Ken Gulmi. "He doesn’t care if he coaches recreational players or the bottom travel division; he simply brings his ‘A’ game as a teacher to every practice and match. He withstands the losses with grace and humor and a ceaseless positive front to his kids."
Mr. Gulmi added, "Spike gets it right. He is about the kids first and foremost and judges his success not by trophies but by how the kids grow and develop."
Spike has coached hundreds of players since 1980, is still in touch with many of them and is most proud of the fact that eight of his former players, including his daughter, have gone on to become coaches. Consider that those eight coaches had a great role model and youth soccer is all the better for Spike’s profound influence.
"It’s been a joy to be a soccer coach," Spike added. "Coaches should recognize to give individual kids the opportunity to score and get their 15 minutes of glory. I will put a defender who never scored in as a forward and to see his face upon scoring his first-ever goal is just wonderful."
It’s coaches like Spike who represent the best of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), even though he only played a little pick-up soccer as a kid and never was on a formal team. George was more of a baseball player, which is where his unusual nickname comes from.
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 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 12 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 Special Children. 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.