Santa Monica’s largest youth sports league, Region 20 of the American Youth Soccer Organization, wrapped its Fall ’07 season earlier this month, crowning league champs in both boys and girls divisions Under 10 through Under 14.
Among the girls, coach Gary Berry’s Grass Kickers bested the Blueberries coached by David Galloway in the Under 14 Division. In the Under 12 Division, coach Sean Alatorre’s Brusiers won 2-0 over the Doodle Bugs, co-coached by Steve Eyler and Mike Dennison. In under 10, the Piranhas, coached by Gary Clouse, won the final match against the Bulldogs, co-coached by Sue Patterson and Laird Robertson.
Among the boys, coach Gary Cassily’s Team Black defeated The Blues, coached by Randy Kornfield. In under 12, the Green Highlighters, co-coached by Rich Gross and Loren Drake, bested coach Eamon Wisdom’s Maroon United. The Bengal Tigers, co-coached by Nicolas Saignac and Chuck Whitesell, won the Under 10 league championship with a final round victory over the Red Shredders, coached by Ian Sears.
Region 20 is not only Santa Monica’s largest youth sports league, but with approximately 1,800 players it is one of the largest local leagues in the entire 400,000-player AYSO nationwide. Region 20 is all volunteer, including the coaches, referees, and commissioners. Head referee is David Khedr. The Head Commissioner of Region 20, Maryanne LaGuardia, is stepping down after 12 years at the helm. As Commissioner LaGuardia noted at one of the Under 10 trophy award ceremonies, “I was running this league before any player on either of these teams was born, so I guess it is time to move on.” Commissioner LaGuardia also noted that due to the large size of the league, there is certainly no shame in finishing second, as each team battled mightily over many others just to make the finals. LaGuardia has earned her referee badge and no doubt will continue to serve the league as an adjudicator instead of administrator. Among other things, under LaGuardia’s 12-year guidance, Santa Monica Region 20 has: grown substantially in players and volunteers; distinguished itself as an athletic powerhouse in post-season tournament play; regularly fed players into the Santa Monica High School and other high school soccer programs; instituted 7-on-7 small squad games to benefit younger players; and taken a leadership role in creating and maintaining top-class playing fields throughout the city, including the new playing field at Airport Park.
AYSO volunteers Vincent Landay and Jonny Balfus will be taking over from LaGuardia as Region 20 co-commissioners. One of their first assignments will be to help guide the six Division 10-14 champs into January’s AYSO Area Tournaments. Each team will keep playing as long as it keeps winning all the way to the Area Championships in March.
In Santa Monica, many AYSO divisions fill months before the start of fall soccer season, and registration is now open for 2008. Go to ayso20.org for details, including a registration fee discount for players signed up before the end of December.