By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
November 12, 2013-Longtime Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Executive Director Joan Czach has been selected as the Region I Administrator of the Year. She will be honored at the US Youth Soccer/NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia in January. This is far from the first honor for the longtime West Babylon resident as she has already been inducted into the Halls of Fame for the LIJSL in 1994 and for the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) in 2010.
"Joan is one of the most respected soccer individuals on Long Island and she is the first person a board member, club president, registrar, coach or parent call upon for advice or information," commented LIJSL President Addie Mattei-Iaia. "They may not always be happy with Joan’s answers to their questions, especially regarding the rules, but they know that they are receiving the right advice from the right person."
Joan began her career in youth soccer when she volunteered to be an assistant coach for her son’s intramural team, the West Babylon Panthers, in 1978. They became the first West Babylon intramural team to win a tournament, then started playing travel in the LIJSL in 1982. Joan took over as the head coach of the Panthers in 1988 when the original coach, Maureen Nohilly, was killed by a drunk driver.
When the Panthers were too old for youth soccer and in college, the players made Joan promise that she would take over a new Under-9 team and also name them the West Babylon Panthers. But the original Panthers, born in 1973, could never had imagined what the new Panthers, born in 1982 and ‘83, would accomplish as they became one of the most successful LIJSL teams ever. The Panthers won five State Cup championships and 12 major tournament titles, including one in San Juan, Argentina. The best was yet to come as they won the Boys-Under-17 national championship in 2000, received the Fair Play Award at the nationals as well as the Golden Boot Award (forward Anthony Barberio) and Golden Glove Award (goalkeeper James Cjasko). But tragedy also struck these Panthers as they won the national championship just weeks after their team captain was killed in a car accident.
While coaching, Joan served as the treasurer for the West Babylon Soccer Club, regularly volunteered for weekend duty working their hot dog truck and co-chaired club dinner/dances. She volunteered for the LIJSL as a Division Supervisor, Chase Cup Chairperson and Games Chairperson plus volunteered for ENYYSA as the State Cup coordinator. In 1991, Joan was elected to the LIJSL Board of Directors and became the LIJSL Executive Director in 1997.
16 years ago, the LIJSL did not use databases as everything was handwritten on paper and the league registration process went on for weeks. Joan streamlined the program, starting a database and greatly reducing the number of volunteer hours needed for registration. She also developed a program to record referee’s game reports and issue their checks in one step that used to take two weeks.
Joan wrote a LIJSL coaching manual for new coaches, and with Joan Connor, gives 10 nightly coaching orientation courses. Over 14,000 coaches have gone through the course.
During her tenure as Executive Director, she successfully petitioned the LIJSL Board of Directors to allow girls teams from the Big Apple Youth Soccer League and Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League, without a place to play, to compete as guest teams in the LIJSL.
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.