By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 12, 2017-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is very pleased to announce that we are kicking off 2017 with longtime volunteer Jeff Wexler as our Personality of the Month for January.
Jeff, a Poughkeepsie resident, became involved with soccer when he attended Oneonta State College. He wanted to go to a football game and he was surprised when he found out the college did not play football but was big into soccer.
“I went to a men’s soccer game. There were all these fans there and the players were terrific. I was hooked and started playing recreationally at Oneonta.”
When Jeff’s daughter Lauren signed up for soccer at age five, he became the coach of her intramural team, Town of Poughkeepsie All-Sport. As the girls grew, the squad became a travel team and joined the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL). It was the start of Jeff’s over quarter-century involvement with the EHYSL that continues to this day.
Jeff then coached his middle child, Michael, and then his youngest, Ryan, in the EHYSL. Ryan’s team, the Poughkeepsie Wildfire, won the ENY Premier League at Boys-Under-16 and Thruway League at Boys-Under-17.
“Eight of the players on that team won the state championship as seniors at Spackenkill High School,” Jeff explained.
17 years ago, then EHYSL President Ken Gulmi asked Jeff to serve on his Board of Directors and he is now Second Vice President plus Academy Director. As the East Hudson Academy Director, Jeff hires coaches, schedules tryouts, helps form the teams, finds team managers, chooses the four summer tournaments they enter, orders uniforms, schedules indoor practice times at the NET in LaGrange plus schedules outdoor practices with a local club when they move outdoors in April after the snow melts from the fields. The past few years, the outdoor practices have been at the Beekman Soccer Club. In a nutshell, Jeff's job is to make sure the players, parents and coaches have a positive experience with the East Hudson Academy.
“If the player returns the following year to play at the next age level, then we did a good job. And of course, our job is to make sure that a player’s skills improve technically and tactically,“ Jeff stated.
Through the prompting of coach Kathleen Licari, who teaches in the same school as Jeff’s wife Mary, he is now also the assistant coach of an Under-6 team in Poughkeepsie. That’s a lot of volunteering for a man who continues to make a difference in the lives of his players and whose “real job” is owner of Bell Copiers in Hyde Park, an authorized Konica Minolta dealer for Dutchess, Putnam, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties.
“My greatest achievement has been coaching numerous girls and boys teams in the Town of Poughkeepsie for many years,“ Jeff said. “Teaching the players skills, tactics, being a good sport and about life lessons which they can apply to relationships and jobs throughout their life. It is heartwarming to run into an old player who calls me ‘coach' or to have them list me as a reference when they apply for a new job.“
“Jeff has been a major contributor to youth soccer in East Hudson for several decades. From his beginnings as a youth coach for the Town of Poughkeepsie through his current service as a EHYSL Board member, Jeff has been for many years one person you can count out when a task needs to get done,” commented EHYSL President Jim Purdy. “He has been and continues to be a great asset to East Hudson and the entire local soccer community and was recognized for his dedication as an inductee in 2011 to the East Hudson Hall of Fame. Personality of the Month is another well-deserved recognition for one of our soccer lifers.“
Additionally, Mr. January volunteered as Trustee for Eastern New York from 2011 to 2015. But driving 200 miles round-trip for meetings every month from his home in Poughkeepsie to the state office in Rockville Centre understandably became very tiring and was the reason why he did not seek re-election two years ago.
Gulmi is Eastern New York’s First Vice President and had this to say about his old friend. “Jeff has been a real hero in youth soccer in the Hudson Valley. He has served as a member of the East Hudson Board for over 15 years, Town of Poughkeepsie Soccer Club for over 25 years and the Eastern New York Board for four years plus continues to manage the East Hudson Academy Program and serves on numerous committees. He always gives exhaustively of his time and energy to make soccer better for our children plus he doesn't seek recognition and usually credits others for his many contributions.“
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.