The Plainview/Old Bethpage TOPSoccer Special Children's Program. Peter Chavkin is on the far right and Chairperson Ann Marie Toth is wearing the gray shirt.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
November 17, 2015-The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving and the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is extremely thankful, especially at this time of year, for our tens of thousands of volunteers who are the brains and sweat behind our innovative programs. One of Eastern New York’s most dependable volunteers is Peter Chavkin, being honored as our Personality of the Month in November.
Peter grew up playing soccer at the start of the youth soccer boom, then competed at Princeton and in adult leagues in Washington, DC. He married his wife Nancy and was living on Long Island where his two kids, Cathy and Johnny, started playing in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Cathy first played on a boys travel team in Great Neck, then played on a girls team there. Johnny played with Great Neck as well, then with Valley Stream and the Hewlett/Lawrence Big Blue, one of the best teams ever in the LIJSL.
Johnny also played for Eastern New York’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) for three years in the late 1990s and for the LIJSL Select Program in 1996. Although he played Select for only one year, it had a lasting impact on the LIJSL TOPSoccer Special Children Program which continues to this day. Because in order to play Select, Johnny and his teammates had to give of their time to the local community in the LIJSL’s Passback Program. Through Jack Quinn, one of the coaches in Plainview/Old Bethpage’s TOPSoccer Program at the time, Johnny and his father Peter decided to start volunteering as coaches for the Special Children when Johnny was a teenager.
Johnny received a LIJSL Scholarship, went on to play at Princeton and at the University of Cambridge in England and now is a foreign policy analyst for the US Government in Washington, DC. While he was studying at Princeton, his family moved to Pound Ridge in Westchester County. Yet Peter has continued coming to the Peter Collins Soccer Park in Plainview to train the Special Children every Saturday when they are active during the Spring and Fall Seasons. In case you are counting, he has put 37,000 miles on his car and paid $3,000 in tolls at the Throgs Neck Bridge in two decades of volunteering.
“Peter has taken Special Children with little experience and desire to play and given them all these skills and enthusiasm,” commented Ann Marie Toth, Chairperson of the LIJSL’s TOPSoccer Program. “He is irreplaceable. The kids love him and he is truly inspiring!”
10 years ago, Peter received the Marg McGory Award as a person who has given so much of himself in helping the LIJSL’s TOPSoccer Program. The award is named after Mrs. McGory, who saw to it that the Special Children had a place to play, at the old Marydale fields in Melville, during the infancy of the program nearly four decades ago.
Yet the humble Mr. November says, “I feel uncomfortable being the focus when so many other people are more deserving. Ann Marie Toth spends many hours administering the program and Anton Gerdes, Mark Snider and Joe Huertas give so much of themselves every week as coaches too. All the coaches are so fair, compassionate and supportive. The program’s success is a result of all these efforts, not just one person.”
“Seeing each player improve in his or her own way while learning to be part of a team is terrific. It’s the most wonderful experience to see players of such different ages and abilities bond and take pride in each other. And then there are the phenomenal parents, who could easily take some time for themselves while their children are at the field but, instead, remain there, supporting all of the players no matter what the weather is like,” Peter added. “It is the most inspirational experience I’ve ever had and I’m truly privileged to be a part of it.”
Peter has experienced success off the field as well in his “real job” as an attorney at Manhattan law firm Mintz Levin. This year, he was named to the Best Lawyers in America as one of the nation’s best white collar criminal defense lawyers. Peter was also named a 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 New York Super Lawyer in The New York Times, and in 2009 was nationally recognized in the Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition as one of the nation’s top attorneys for Criminal Defense: White Collar. He is also formerly a Federal Prosecutor.
Congratulations to Peter Chavkin, Eastern New York’s November Personality of the Month.
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 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.