Otto Horstmann being inducted into the Staten Island Youth Soccer League Hall of Fame in 2007
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
May 3, 2016-In May, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) celebrates Otto Horstmann, one of the giants of Staten Island soccer, as our Personality of the Month. Otto never played the game yet has advanced very far in his many volunteer roles.
“I was in the wrong place at the right time. I never played soccer as a kid on Staten Island and frankly never heard of it growing up in Westerleigh,” Otto explained. "It was all about baseball, basketball, stick ball and touch football.”
As an adult, he became involved with youth sports at Our Lady of Good Council (OLGC) where his children went to school. Otto started coaching basketball, than became involved with the OLGC Sports Association and before he knew it, he was OLGC President. At about the same time as becoming President, the OLGC Soccer Director resigned so Otto ended up taking over that position and attending the Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL) meetings. OLGC had four travel teams with Otto’s children playing on three of them. Because of some parent/coach issues, the coach on the fourth team resigned and suddenly Otto went from soccer nothing to soccer club director and soccer coach and shortly after that, SIYSL Board Member.
Otto was elected, then re-elected SIYSL President for a decade from 1995 to 2005 and was succeeded by the current President, his good friend Bill Smith.
“I always looked up to Otto when I became more involved with the Staten Island Youth Soccer League,” commented SIYSL President Bill Smith. "When I was elected to the Board of Directors, I learned so much from him!”
“As President, education was high on my agenda, probably because I knew so little, having never played the game,” Otto stated. “I had suddenly become a soccer coach and the first thing that came to my mind was basketball, with feet, not hands. So in order for me to teach the players I coached, I needed to learn, hence the Eastern New York coach licensing classes. And I wasn’t the only one that needed to learn, so I collaborated with Nick Zlatar and he ran multiple licensing classes at multiple levels over many years on Staten Island.”
But Otto could not force every coach to come to classes, so he devised a way to teach something anyway. In collaboration with the club directors, they came up with a list of “seminar” items (offside, advantage, etc.). Once the topics were picked, Otto worked with Tony Limone, then President of the Staten Island Soccer Referee Association (SISRA), to provide some of his colleagues to conduct the seminar. The only way each coach (or assistant coach) could receive their schedule for the season was to attend a seminar that was presented by SISRA members.
Otto and Tony worked together on referee development. For example, how do young refs learn the assistant ref (AR) role? The SIYSL put up the money to pay the AR fees and a SISRA member would be there on the field to train the assistant referee.
The SIYSL started a partnership with minor league teams such as the Staten Island Vipers and New York Centaurs, giving tickets to SIYSL clubs. Through Sandy Rapaglia, a partnership with the MetroStars (now Red Bulls) developed and MetroStar players would come to SIYSL travel team tryouts and actually grade the players. SIYSL membership increased exponentially, which led to a new challenge.
"We desperately needed fields. Interestingly enough, Petrides, a local public school, approached us about developing fields at their complex. A few league dollars later for goal posts, etc., we had a new complex to use,” Otto said.
Additionally, Otto was a travel team coach for the Silver Lake Soccer Club in the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL) and President of Staten Island United. He was in the first class of inductees when the SIYSL Hall of Fame was established in 2007.
“I know Otto was always about the children of the league. A few days before the season was to start, a team would want to change a division which would affect a few divisions yet he would always make the move because it was good for the children and the season always started on time,” explained President Smith. “If I have a question today, he is always there for me as a mentor and friend.“
Otto moved to Stapleton Heights, when he married his wife Karen, 42 years ago. He has been the Director of Benefits at Novartis since 1999. He is the second person working at Novartis to be honored as Eastern New York’s Personality of the Month. The first was Rheyan Cader, who is the Human Resources Business Partner, supporting the US Respiratory Franchise, and who volunteers as the President of the Beacon Soccer Club in the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) and was honored by Eastern New York last October.
As Otto is retiring from Novartis, he will use his new free time to become involved with his grandsons’ soccer games. Congratulations to Otto Horstmann, Eastern New York’s Personality of the Month for May.
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.