Richard Bletsch in gray surrounded by his New Hyde Park TOPSoccer players
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
November 15, 2016-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is thankful for our tens of thousands of volunteers who line fields, coach teams, organize car pools and slice oranges, particularly during this Thanksgiving time. One of our best volunteers who lives on the New York City-Long Island border is Richard Bletsch of the New Hyde Park Wildcats Soccer Club, who is being honored as our Personality of the Month for November. He was nominated by another member named Richard from the same club, Richard Christiano, a pretty good volunteer himself as he is Eastern New York’s President.
”We’re really pleased to honor Richard Bletsch as our Personality of the Month as he has given so much of himself as a volunteer in New Hyde Park since 1982,” explained President Christiano.
Mr. November grew up playing baseball and became involved as a soccer volunteer when he registered his oldest son, Christopher, for instructional (pre-intramural) soccer in 1982. He became the assistant coach of the team, learning from the coach, Mike Alina. But Mike’s son was a year older than Chris so Mike and his son eventually moved on to another team, leaving Richard in charge of the Outlaws. With his calm, positive demeanor, having Richard coach a team named the Outlaws was as appropriate a team name as the Utah Jazz.
Richard became a good coach and coached Chris when he moved on to the travel team Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Their New Hyde Park Tigercats team played all the way through Boys-Under-19, when the kids graduated from high school.
Richard also became a ref in the late 1980’s, officiating a few LIJSL games but mainly whistling New Hyde Park’s intramural matches.
In 1991, when he started serving on New Hyde Park’s Board of Directors, he founded the New Hyde Park Wildcats TOPSoccer Program for children with special needs, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016. The program is so highly thought of that the Applebee’s in New Hyde Park has a wall mural of Richard and his TOPSoccer players.
This past October 15, Richard and the club organized its 19th Annual TOPSoccer Tournament at the Denton Avenue School in New Hyde Park. Although Mary Jo Bursig took over as Director of New Hyde Park’s TOPSoccer Program in 2011, Richard can still be seen practicing with his 74 players every Saturday during the spring and fall at the Center Street School. So with all this volunteering, you can understand why he was inducted into the LIJSL Hall of Fame in 2007.
LIJSL TOPSoccer Chairperson Ann Marie Toth stated, ”Richard is a quiet, steady influence on TOPSoccer. He does everything methodically and he does everything right.”
He is the second person in the past three months from New Hyde Park to be honored as Personality of the Month as Olympian Jane Vongvorachoti was honored in September. Congratulations to Mr. November, Richard Bletsch!
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.