The Southington Youth Soccer League was conceived out a great need for the high school and junior. high schools to have some sort of soccer feeder program. My older son Dan played soccer at the high school and I saw how far behind Southington was to the other schools. Al Lederman, who then the assistant superintendent of schools in Southington, and me were good friends and worked out at the YMCA together. Al was a great soccer fan having played at New York State University at Albany and making all American. I had no experience with soccer but had experience in organizing leagues in town. We went to a meeting in West Hartford of their youth league and got some ideas. I put an advertisement in the paper looking for people to help start the league. We met at the YMCA in April of 1975 . About 12 guys showed up. I wish I could remember all of their names, but Bob Swanson stands out because of his long term involvement in the league. Some of the names I do remember are Angelo Califano , Joe Babiarz sr. Art Napolitano, Stanley Mach, Virgil Iacobucci, Herman Zickfied, Bill DellaVecchia, Maureen Galayda, Joe Arcano, Roland Schwarz and Dan Murawski (who was the high school soccer coach at the time), Al Lederman and myself. In addition, I need to note that that although she wasn't technically a founding member of the league, Ans Swanson dedicated almost 40 years to the league and deserves special recognition. A number of years later, Bob Swanson and Rich Richards founded the Southington Soccer Club for more competitive, travel play in the fall as well as the spring (they thought that soccer should be played in the warmer weather in addition to the fall) which was and continues to be a resounding success.
We had our first soccer registration in June of 1975. Since Southington was a big football town we had some fears that no one would show up.
To our surprise, over 175 kids show up and we had enough kids to field 4 "A division teams and 6 "B" Division teams. A couple of years later, a"C" Division instructional league was started and was directed by Shari Guarino. We laid out 5 fields at Derynoski School and played our first games on Sept. 19 1975.
The second year we doubled our enrollment to almost 400 kids and within 5 years we were up to approximately 800 players, including the instructional league kids. It should be noted that we started the league with absolutely no financial assistance from the town. We came under the auspices of the Parks and Recreation Dept and received partial funding from them plus a lot of help in lining fields, etc.
Some of the officers from the early days were Joe LaPorte (serving as president from 1975 -1983), followed by Val Guarino for one year, and Dave Norton for 3 years. Bob Swanson took over as president and has served as president until 2015.
We were helped by many parents and other individuals. Among those that stood out were Joe Piazza, who was the assistant soccer coach at the high school, and Joe Barbiarz sr. who refereed many many games for us. As a side note, Joe played in the world cup as a goalie. Also standing out were Joe Petrone, Jaye Dinsmore, Val Guarino, Bill Haeffner Richie Krampitz and of course the women who worked the concession every sunday for many years like Dolores LaPorte and Loretta Palmieri.
Of course it couldn't have been possible without all of our coaches and coordinators ,many of which were seeing a soccer ball for the first time. There is not enough room here to mention the many others, but their help was vital in building a great league.
We were able to build the upper fields at Recreation Park with the help of the town Parks Dept, the Engineering Dept and some great volunteers who donated time and equipment . The upper fields were completed in 1986 and the operation of the league was moved there at that time.
With the help of many volunteers and the efforts of Bruce Belvin, a field house was built next to the upper fields. With the continuing improvements we now have one of the best soccer complexes in the state. The league continued to flourish under Bob's direction . Many other people stepped up including Ann Marie Conaty, Jim Smith Joe Crispino, Mike Fortier, Jim Fazzalaro, Nick Cutler , John & Diane Catt.
The Soutnington Soccer Club, established in 1975, came into being to provide a more competitive program and to allow play between teams of local CT towns. In their history, the "Club" has won many district championships as well as numerous tournaments. The SSC ran a competitive tournament for 25 years and attracted many teams from all over the Northeast US. The existence of the Club has enabled the youth of Southington to be able to play at each players skill level and has allowed the SYSL to maintain a philosophy of letting everyone play equally.
Bob Swanson became President of the league in 1987 and served in this role until 2015. After the coordinators of the league mentioned earlier, the league was fortunate to attract many people over the years that gave their time and effort to the kids of Southington. These people stayed active with the league even after their children had left the program. Division coordinators who served in this role for longer than 5 years were Jim Smith, Dale Ianni, Bruce Zajac, Ernie Beaudoin, Steve Gilewski and Jay Dinsmore. Jim Fazzalaro served as a coach, a referee and a coordinator for the AAA girls for over 30 years. Richard Griffith was involved for more than 20 ys serving as coordinator for the AAA division. Ed Baker has served as administrator, coach and a Coordinator for the B Division for 25 years. Paul Vivian has been a coach and a Coordinator for the AA Boys division for nearly 30 years. Ans Swanson served as a coach and coordinator for D Division for almost 40 years. Tabby DeSousa has also served as a division coordinator. In addition, Neil Wasserman MD served as league treasurer for many years and Richard Veilleux more recently has served in the same position. Many others not mentioned here of course were involved in running the league and their efforts were greatly appreciated.
The Southington Youth Soccer League has been fortunate to have so many dedicated coaches and assistant coaches over the years, and at this time we are all very proud that we have on average over 400 children participating in the program. League games take place in the fall every Sunday at Recreation Park and some other locations. The league holds onto its original principle that all players receive equal playing time, no matter their skill level. Also, the league holds no standings so that everyone (coaches, players, and parents) is concentrated on playing and enjoying the sport of Soccer without the pressure of having to win.
November, 2018 celebrates the 43rd year of the Southington Youth Soccer League.
The league extends a special thank you for the support they have received from the Town of Southington!
League history written by: Joseph Laporte, Bob and Ans Swanson. Edited by Michael Kryzanski and Ed Baker