The idea of youth soccer in our area first came from the Varsity Soccer Coach at Sachem High School, Frank Schmidt. Frank, together with Athletic Director Tom Sabatelle, Community Administrator Skip Fielden and several other officials of the Sachem School District, realized that to be competitive at the high school level youngsters had to start playing when they were six or seven years old. Sachem, unfortunately, was at a disadvantage due to the lack of a youth program in the community.
Jesse Stancarone, Bill Galindo, Bill Doyle, Sy Olitsky and Claude Amallobieta offered to help the existing Sachem Athletic Club, headed by Dennis Wandle and Frank Crist to organize a youth soccer program in our area. They formed and incorporated the Sachem Youth Soccer League Inc -commonly known as -SYSL.
Eighty youngsters were registered in the Spring of 1977, playing their soccer game on two fields at the Waverly Avenue School. By the Fall of 1977, 256 boys and girls had joined the program along with 14 other volunteer coaches. The operation of the league was then entrusted to the first SYSL Board of Directors with Jesse Stancarone serving as the President. Since 1977 the Board has grown from the original nine members to one that now numbers seventeen people. Since then the league has grown by leaps and bounds.
Today our registration has grown to over 1800 children and over 260 volunteer coaches, making SYSL one of the largest youth soccer league on Long Island. Our fields, which now number 25, of which 9 are Micro sized fields, are the envy of the surrounding soccer clubs. For the past few years, SYSL has been asked to provide their fields for the Waldbaum's Cup Semi-finals and Finals as well as providing fields for the Brookhaven Summer High School League and the Exceptional Senior tryouts. We currently can boast of 120 intramural teams including 13 Interleague teams, and 35 travel teams. We are the home club of the past National Champions (the Tomahawks) as well as past New York State Champs (the Ponies, the Cheyenne, the Chiefs, the Shawnee and the two time winning Spears). And this is in addition to being able to claim several Chase/Waldbaum's Cup Champions over the years.
SYSL not only has the distinction of being one of the biggest Leagues on Long Island, but can also state that we are one of the few clubs on all of the Island that offers a Special Soccer Program for those children that have special needs, be they emotional or physical. Currently under the direction of Jerry Smith, this program has experienced rapid growth and has been recommended by several school districts as a model athletic vehicle for children of all ages. In November of 1995, at a LIJSL Dinner, Jerry received an award as a volunteer of the year. This award was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Special Soccer Program on Long Island.
SYSL was also instrumental in the formation of an Interleague Program for children who no longer had viable age divisions within their own clubs, but still wanted to play soccer. Under the direction of Lou Sventora, this program has grown to include 35 neighboring clubs and 229 teams. The Interleague Program is presently in its eleventh year.
In the Fall of 1991, the League turned their attention to our youngest players and introduced the Micro Soccer Program. Micro Soccer involves smaller teams playing 3 vs.3 on the field. While the idea was originally met with some skepticism, it has proven to be a huge success and SYSL is currently seeing this concept implemented with older divisions as well.
The Sachem Youth Soccer League has grown and evolved through the years into an established community-based asset. We now have a lease from the Sachem School District for our 24-acre complex. Based on the security this lease provides, the League has moved forward, under the supervision of Al Mcucci, with a long talked about project, an irrigation system to improve and maintain our many fields. This project, completed in the Spring of 1998, enables the SYSL to greatly enhance the quality of soccer played in Sachem. Al has put a tremendous amount of time and effort into the planning of this project and is now realizing the satisfaction of seeing its completion. Other planned ideas for improving our soccer complex include permanent bathroom facilities, a concession stand and lights for night games.
SYSL is the host of three annual Soccer Festivals that draw players from all over Long island and a travel tournament that draws not only from Long Island, New York State and neighboring states, but also occasionally from other nations, such as Canada, and Trinidad. Our annual Intramural Festival last year drew over 3000 soccer players on over 250 teams. This is an event that soccer clubs from all over Long Island look forward to each year. Even our super sized complex cannot provide space for all the teams who request to play. Regretfully we must turn away many teams. Our Micro festival continues to grow at an amazing rate with over 20 neighboring clubs sending their youngest players for a day of games, ice cream and soccer camaraderie. Our Fall Girls Festival/Tournament has succeeded wonderfully despite our run ins with mother nature for the past few years. When we run into soccer players and parents from other clubs it is gratifying to hear what a great time they have had at one or more Sachem Youth Soccer League events and how they are looking forward to the next one. Seldom does a visitor leave one of our festivals without a smile and an "I'll see you next year".
The Tony Chiofalo Memorial Travel Soccer Tournament held in August, serves as a tune-up for the upcoming travel seasons for most of the participants. This tournament hosts State Champions from neighboring states, Waldbaum's Cup Champion teams from Long Island as well as other very competitive teams. The tremendous growth of this tournament over the past few years has caused the Sachem Youth Soccer League to expand this tournament to two weekends in August: one for the girls and one for the boys.
Frank Schmidt's idea of developing quality soccer players through a youth soccer league continues to be realized as many of the players registered in Sachem Youth Soccer League over the years reach the high school level and play on the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams. Sachem High School is a perennial powerhouse in Division I on Long Island and has won the League I, Suffolk County, and New York State Championships. In addition, the High School team has won the Sportsmanship Award in their League as well as been honored as an Athletic Scholars team in New York State.
The hope of all the people who have helped the Sachem Youth Soccer League over the years is that someday a youngster who received his soccer education on the Waverly Complex will go to the greatest challenge of all- playing for the USA in the World Cup.