By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
September 1, 2016-Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, stated, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.“
Jane Vongvorachoti, who grew up playing soccer in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), has fulfilled both parts of this famous quote and that’s why she has been selected as our September Personality of the Month.
Jane lived in New Hyde Park and played in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL), for the New Hyde Park Firecats, Oceanside Express, Rockville Centre Dynamite and the HBC Magic. She competed for the LIJSL Select Program for one year, for Eastern New York’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) for an amazing seven years as well as one year for Region 1 ODP. Jane also won a juggling, dribbling and shooting skills contest at the Peter Collins Soccer Park in Plainview two decades ago that was modeled after the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick Contest.
“Playing soccer taught me life lessons,” Jane explained. “It has taught me how to be mentally tough, physically tough and how to handle many different situations that are thrown your way. I believe that I wouldn't be the strong runner I am today without soccer.“
Jane played college soccer, first for Columbia University and then she was reunited with her youth coach Ian Stone at St. John’s University. She ran track for one year at St. John’s too.
Coach Stone said, “I was fortunate enough to coach Jane with the HBC Magic, Rockville Centre Dynamite and St. John's University. This young woman's passion and desire to be great knew no end. Now she is an Olympian. She should serve as an inspiration to us all!“
During a time when there was not a professional women’s soccer league, Jane played defender and midfield for two top amateur teams, the Long Island Lady Riders of the W-League and the Hudson Valley Quickstrike, who went undefeated during her one year with the Women’s Premier Soccer League team.
She looked to make it to the Olympics by playing for seven years with the Thailand Women’s National Team. Her fluency in Thai helped but she decided to concentrate on an individual sport instead.
“I tried to qualify with soccer, but your whole entire team has to perform,” Jane noted. “In the Marathon, you can’t blame anyone else.”
In the process, the now 32-year-old set 11 Thai records in distance running, was honored as a 2014 New York Road Runners’ Runner of the Year and set the course record at the 2013 Autism Speaks 4 Miles of Hope in Central Park.
“My Olympic experience was amazing! I tried to soak in everything as much as possible,” Jane said. “The Opening Ceremony was really great, being able to walk into the stadium representing your country and seeing all the other athletes and countries represented. Although running the Marathon in the Olympics was not in ideal conditions by any measure, I will never forget coming down the last 700 meters with the crowds cheering and all the flags down both of the sides of me. I was so relieved to get there and it was the first time I pumped my fists in the air coming down to the finish line, knowing that I was now an Olympian.”
Jane finished 91st of the 147 women who completed the Olympic Marathon. On her tour of Olympic cities, London is calling and she plans to move there for two years before returning to live in New York City. When she returns, hopefully she will use her D License to coach a youth soccer team in Eastern New York.
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.