Without the passion and dedication of volunteers, AYSO would not be able to provide soccer, lifelong memories and a place to raise happy kids in Regions across the U.S. Whether you’re a field painter or Section Director, volunteers are the most important members of this organization and their heartfelt contributions make everything possible.
For this reason, we’d like to honor five individuals who've made creating wonderful memories for kids a lifelong mission. Larry and Sandy Caplinger, Paul Castellani and Sandie Oerly of AYSO Section 1 were all recently honored for 40 years of AYSO volunteerism and Jim Madison from Section 2 has received the incredible feat of 45 years of service.
Larry and Sandy Caplinger
Sandy Caplinger has been a Regional Commissioner (RC) for 30 years and an AYSO volunteer for 40 years. When asked what about AYSO kept her volunteering, Sandy replied “Time has gone by so fast and knowing it will be over sooner than later makes me sad, but the most important part of the program are the kids. I have seen thousands of players go through AYSO, only to return as coaches/referees and to tell me that if not for Larry and me they would not be volunteers today.”
Larry Caplinger, currently Registrar of AYSO Region 165 in Running Springs, Calif. has served in almost every role from Coach to National Director of Tournaments and in 2005, was inducted in to the AYSO Hall of Fame for his amazing contributions. Upon emailing Larry for this article on Friday evening, the response was “This is Sandy, Larry is painting fields and I do not know when he will be back.” Talk about tireless dedication!
Several hours later, Larry shared that his motivation.
“It’s when the littlest player comes up and pulls on your referee shorts, smiles and says "I had fun today! Thank you!" When a VIP player is crying tears of joy because you are going to give him a slightly used medal at their Section 1 Tournament.” What beautiful moments!
After playing semi-professionally in Italy’s third division, Paul Castellani decided he didn’t have what it took to become a professional soccer player. He shifted his focus to refereeing and upon receiving referee training from FIFA, Paul made his way to the U.S. and started volunteering with AYSO in 1975. After officiating over 5,500 AYSO games and serving as a RC for many years, Paul is still dedicating his time and passion to the growth of soccer and the joy of players in his Region.
“The Passion for the game, imbedded in me since the time I started crawling, brought me to AYSO. The opportunity to impact young lives and give back to the community through soccer has kept me with AYSO. The hope to keep teaching the value of truth, integrity and honesty to the new generations of players will keep me with AYSO. My dream is to be remembered as he, who without ever knowing it, made the difference in some child's life.”
Sandie started as a Team Mom, cheering on the kids and making those beloved team banners. In 1979, she became an RC and after serving that role for eight fun years, she moved up to Area Director and hasn’t stepped down since. Today, Sandie serves as both an Area Director for area 1G and Game Scheduler for Region 65 in her home town.
“It has been easy to stay involved because of the fantastic people you meet and can enjoy their enthusiasm. It is very rewarding to have someone come up and say they had been a player and are now back with their children—you know the wonderful memories will continue growing” says Sandie.
Thank you to Larry and Sandy Caplinger, Paul Castellani and Sandie Oerly of Section 1 and 45-year volunteer Jim Madison from Section 2 for their incredible contributions. These tireless volunteers are a living testament to the philosophies of AYSO. In every role they've filled, they demonstrate their love for AYSO and their dedication to making kids and family’s experiences something they’ll always cherish.