By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 30, 2017-This is the tale of two similarly-named towns, Hyde Park in the Hudson Valley and New Hyde Park, Long Island. Hyde Park was given that name around 1810 and it’s best known as the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. With a population of 21,571 according to the 2010 census, that’s roughly double the population of New Hyde Park. The Long Island town was known as Hyde Park starting in 1715 but changed its name to New Hyde Park in 1871 when a Post Office opened there, to avoid confusing it with the larger town in the Hudson Valley.
Both Hyde Park and New Hyde Park have vibrant soccer programs that are longtime members of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA).
Hyde Park United kicked off in 1974 and is a proud member of the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL). Currently, 600 players––300 boys and 300 girls––wear the club’s green, white and black uniforms at the Creek Road Complex. The travel teams who play in the EHYSL serve as the feeder program for the varsity teams at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. Craig Capano, who served as captain of the United States Under-20 National Team and midfielder for the Chicago Fire from 2002 to 2006, played for the club in the EHYSL.
There is also a partnership between the Marist College women’s soccer program and Hyde Park United with the intent of strengthening the focus on girls soccer while identifying role models for their young players. The goal is to fill the stands and show support for the local team while the Marist players have often made voluntary appearances at Hyde Park United practices and provided clinics as part of their community service.
“We have done a tremendous amount of work with local teams such as Hyde Park, East Fishkill, Newburgh and LaGrange,“ commented Marist women’s soccer assistant coach Gene Smith. “We require our players to do community service but a lot is done outside the frame of soccer, I think having the balance away from the sport is important. Our players have always enjoyed the relationship with Hyde Park and giving back to the younger kids. Most of our players started in local leagues and it is great for them to educate the kids on their experiences.“
Explained club president Jeff Biamonte. “We’ve also benefited from the continued support of the Hyde Park Central School District, the Town of Hyde Park Recreation Department as well as the generosity of numerous local businesses that serve as sponsors. In 2013, we introduced a high school level of recreation soccer that includes intertown play with our neighbors in Pleasant Valley, Wappingers Falls, Fishkill and LaGrange. Our league also hosts Over-30 and Over-40 teams so we truly provide an opportunity for children of all ages.“
The New Hyde Park Wildcats Soccer Club was founded in 1978 and its travel teams have been playing in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) ever since. 1,100 players––715 boys and 385 girls––proudly wear the Wildcats’ red, white and blue.
“We are a strong community-based club with players of all levels and with a strong volunteer base,“ explained New Hyde Park Wildcats President Diana Ricciardi. “Our club provides the opportunity for all coaches to obtain their coaching licenses plus AED and First Aid certifications. We currently have 9 AED's for the club and are continuing to purchase more.“
Eastern New York’s September 2016 Personality of the Month, Olympian Jane Vongvorachoti, grew up playing for the Wildcats and our November 2016 Personality of the Month, Richard Bletsch, was in charge of the Wildcats’ TOPSoccer Program for children with special needs since its founding in 1991 to 2011. Six years ago, Mary Jo Bursig took over as TOPSoccer Director and she was recently honored, in front of 670 people, with the LIJSL’s Marg McGory Award as the person who has given an amazing amount of volunteering to the program. Every October, the Wildcats host a TOPSoccer Tournament at the Denton Avenue School. New Hyde Park’s TOPSoccer Program is so well-received that its players and coaches are depicted in a mural at the local Applebee’s.
Additionally, MLS assistant referee Brian Dunn and Eastern New York Director of Instruction Joe Danbusky both live in New Hyde Park and Eastern New York President Richard Christiano was a Wildcats’ coach for many years.
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 tohttp://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.