As both a member of the girls' traveling soccer team and as assistant commissioner of the AYSO region mentioned in your "Kick Start" article of January 8, I feel that I must respond to the innuendo that we regard AYSO as a negative experience for our children. Quite the contrary, we are very positive in our support of AYSO and the work that it does.
AYSO, as a grassroots organization, has done a tremendous job in introducing young people to soccer and ensuring that they have a positive experience both with each other and their coaches. AYSO's emphasis on positive reinforcement and open registration make it one of the best recreational sports organizations for kids in this country.
While the "Kick Start" article implies that the AYSO lakefront region 418 embody racially separatist policies, your readers should understand that the region's boundaries extend from North Avenue to Devon and from the lakefront west to Western Avenue. The ethnic mix of players, of the AYSO coaches and administrators within the lakefront region reflect the demographics of its boundaries while not excluding any child whose family is from outside the lakefront boundaries who chooses to play within the lakefront AYSO region. Anyone who shows up on registration day and who qualifies for a scholarship or with the $70 registration fee is guaranteed a place to play next season. "Everyone plays!" is the AYSO motto.
In closing, all of the children pictured in this racially diverse group learned to play soccer from kindergarten age to as recently as last season in lakefront AYSO programs. Most have younger siblings that continue to play in region 418 programs. I continue to coach my son in the league. Region 418 tries to and I believe succeeds in its attempt to include all the children that want to play soccer with us and guarantee them a positive and rewarding experience.