By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
December 1, 2020-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is very pleased to announce that three of our “Of the Year” Award winners have been also selected by the East Region as their award winners. Two Andrews and one Bella are being honored:
East Region Girls Competitive Coach of the Year Andrew Werner was nominated by Ballston Spa Soccer Club President Rob Smarz as well the parents of two of his players. Andrew’s Girls-Under-12 team plays in the Capital District Youth Soccer League (CDYSL). Club President Smarz wrote that “I’ve never seen a volunteer youth coach put in what Andrew puts in to his team. He lives and breathes his job as a detective with the New York State Troopers and does the same with his daughter’s soccer team, for all the right reasons.”
Soccer parents Justin and Leigh Delgado wrote that “we had no idea what our daughter’s future as a soccer player would be when we signed her up for the Ballston Spa Soccer Club. At the time, we were hoping she’d gain some athletic skills, learn to be part of a team and gain some personal confidence. She got so much more and so did we! As a coach, Andrew is tough, consistent, reliable but most importantly, he is a constant champion for his team and every girl on it. His players feel a sense of pride when they walk off the field to a high-five from Coach Andrew because they played well, tried a new skill, made a new move or simply gave it their all.”
Soccer parents Jason and Joanne Wheaton wrote that “we knew from the first practice that Andrew was not just your regular parent-coach. His knowledge and love for the game was immediately apparent and his continued patience ensured that every child was both engaged and inspired…Andrew is a coach who seems to do everything right, always. His values that he has learned in life and clearly through the New York State Police shine daily and are consistently communicated to both his players and their parents, who are always encouraged to be respectful of opponents and the game…Andrew actually created a field in his neighborhood to encourage pick-up soccer for all, including the kids who are not on his team.”
East Region Administrator of the Year Andrew So was nominated by ENYYSA President Richard Christiano. Andrew co-founded the non-profit South Bronx United in 2009 to build leaders and scholars through soccer and it is now the largest club in the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL). Fields and funding are particular challenges and South Bronx United must raise over 95% of its budget to offer programs. The cost to families to participate is no more than $100 per child annually and it’s waived for many families who face immense financial hardship. South Bronx United programs include academic enrichment, college prep, tutoring, mentoring, leadership development, immigration legal services and other social services in the poorest Congressional District in the United States. Through the SBU Academy, the organization provides a pathway from middle school to high school to college for the kids of the South Bronx. It’s working as 100% of SBU Academy players since 2012 have graduated high school, compared to 56% of public school students in the South Bronx.
Last winter, South Bronx United received the prestigious Laureus Sport for Good Award in Berlin, German. The Laureus World Sports Academy stated that South Bronx United has used sport to “reduce the impact of violence, conflict and discrimination, to enhance social and emotional development, to inspire healthy behavior change and to increase educational achievements and employability skills.”
Additionally, South Bronx United started a petition on Change.org to New York City Parks in August to return field permits to organized leagues. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the field permits were being returned to the leagues from diverse sports, including youth soccer, after 8,957 signatures in one week.
East Region TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year Bella Pepe was nominated by four people, including her own uncle, Louis Pepe, who founded the East Islip Soccer Club’s TOPSoccer Program, named Just For Kicks, a dozen years ago in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Louis wrote “she goes above and beyond to show the TOPSoccer players that they belong on the field and she makes them feel special by acknowledging them. While at Just For Kicks, she has been instrumental in building the confidence of one special player who wanted no part of soccer…Bella is the epitome of everything and more of the type of young adult you want representing this prestigious award. She is an extraordinary person and it is hard to believe that she is only 15. 15!!…I was not blessed to have a daughter but if I had, I would only describe what I would want in a daughter to be like Bella as she is such a caring, giving and selfless person.”
Bea Huste-Petersen wrote “her leadership trickles down to others her age as she leads and others follow her lead. Organized, thoughtful and on target are some of her strongest attributes, a wonderful recipe for success. She works hard and, quite simply, gets the job done!”
Soccer Mom Nancy Villa wrote that “Bella has been a wonderful support and guidance for my son William, who is an 11-year-old autistic child. She is an altruistic young girl who has been incredibly patient, compassionate and inspiring in every practice at the soccer field. I have witnessed her extraordinary dedication to my son and all the kids who are within the spectrum of autism, facing challenging behavioral issues in which Bella has done a great job beyond her years, just being unconditionally loving and kind. Bella is clearly the change we all want to see in this world.”
East Islip’s Director of Referees, Patricia Graydon, wrote that “it’s very hard to recall a time when there wasn’t a smile on Bella’s face and that is reassuring to the children. She has a very caring way about her that makes the players feel very at ease…She is positive in her instruction and tireless with her enthusiasm. I hope to have many more years working with this extraordinary young lady.”
With approximately 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 nine 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 https://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.