Soccer organization provides volunteer opportunities

By Maria Ahmad

Soccer enthusiasts can take their passion to the next level by volunteering to coach or referee youth soccer teams in DeKalb.

American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is a national organization run by volunteers with regional chapters throughout the nation. AYSO’s goal is to promote a safe and fun family environment through principles which ensure player development, equal time on the field, positive coaching and open registration for everyone, according to its website.

“This season, DeKalb AYSO had 76 teams,” said Kristi Radtke, DeKalb AYSO coach administrator. “The age range is from 8 to 18 years old.”

All coaches, assistant coaches, referees and board members are volunteers. Training is provided for each position.

Dani Howard, freshman pre-physical therapy major, said she started playing soccer through AYSO before advancing to a traveling team in high school. Now she is giving back to AYSO and coaches a U10 girls’ team.

“It is a good use of time and I enjoy watching the girls learn and grow,” Howard said. “It is a great feeling seeing the girls work together.”

Thuis year, AYSO DeKalb will hold a spring season in addition to the regular fall season. The spring season will last from April to June. Interested volunteers can sign up now to help in the spring.

“This is something that would look great on a resume or possibly serve as a reference when the students are looking for jobs either over the summer or after graduation,” said Jeannine Szostak, AYSO DeKalb safety director and webmaster. “The kids would be fascinated by a college student coming to hang out with them.”

Szostak said volunteer coaches and referees are needed, but AYSO could also use volunteers for social media, registration and to set up fields.