Ron Littlefair was one of
the earliest AYSO pioneers
and became one of the most
influential in the establishment
and explosive growth of AYSO
in its first 10 years. Some of
the AYSO founders thought
it would be good to involve a
little league coach and "football
type"—as their beloved sport
was being introduced to
America. Ron quickly became
an advocate, and as a talented
salesman and business man,
was devoted to AYSO's
In the early going, Ron made long, wooden tables to do "sign ups" at Torrance schools. He purchased used mimeograph machines and had a virtual print shop in the family garage. People came and went at all times of the day and night. There were coaches, school board officials, city leaders and referees—printing rosters, newsletters and registration forms. The rest of the garage housed a kiln on which Ron made mugs for the teams and stored up to 500 sets of team uniforms, ready for the hundreds of players attracted by the "EVERYONE INVITED" outreach of Ron into his community.
Ron was a key partner in supporting two of AYSO's revolutionary philosophies: Everyone Plays® and Balanced Teams. His sons Andrew and Tom—also AYSO soccer players—remember that their Dad really believed in AYSO's philosophy of Everyone Plays©, taking it to heart and strictly enforcing it.
Ron was also instrumental in the early development of leaders. As the third Regional Commissioner for the city of Torrance, with a goal of increased participation, he established eight Regions with eight new leaders, resulting in the explosive growth he and the other early leaders so envisioned.
As the National Vice President of Growth and Development for AYSO, Ron traveled all over Southern California and then the United States. With explosive growth came the challenge of administering AYSO's player insurance program. Ron and a good friend created a self-insurance program for the organization, which grew from 900 players to 28,000 in a matter of a few years.
Through all of his years of service, family and friends recall that there was never a cross word from Ron but always a giant smile, and that he one of the best listeners to other's problems. Whether disciplining a wayward coach, dealing with a game protest, managing Opening Day ceremonies or working with the community partners, Ron Littlefair was instrumental in "placing the interests of the youth growing within AYSO" at the top of his very busy list, thus positively influencing the lives of the kids, the families and the volunteer leaders of an organization that he so loves.
Mike Michalski began his
career in AYSO as an assistant
Regional Commissioner. The
teams his two sons played on
were occasionally invited to
participate in AYSO tournaments
around southern California
and Mike observed a lack of
organization. After he became an
Area Director, he was approached
by Lolly Keys, a National Office
staffer, with a tournament
sponsor. Mike realized this would
be a great opportunity to put
on a showcase tournament.
This inspired the Sunny Delight
Tournament, which highlighted
the famous drink and featured five
guaranteed games for each team
over a weekend. Every player
and coach received a tournament medal, pin and T-shirt, and
regardless of their win-loss record, every participant received a
Eventually, discussions with the National Office and NBOD about the quality of AYSO tournaments led to Mike being appointed as the National Commissioner of Tournaments. In this capacity, he helped write the first versions of Tournament Guidelines and reviewed applications for new tournaments while continuing as an Area Director. Tournaments across the country slowly started to become more accountable and organized and were advertised by the National Office.
In 1984, the euphoria of the Los Angeles Olympics inspired Mike, Lolly and the National Office staff to brainstorm how they could hold a tournament that would showcase the best of AYSO. For the next few years, Mike travelled to Section Meetings and popular AYSO tournaments to gather information and ideas on how to make a National event like this possible. By 1986, the framework of the National Games was established and was presented to the NBOD for approval. The inaugural Games in 1988 quickly "sold out" with teams from across the mainland and Hawaii. Initial concerns about the co-ed Soccerfest for older players evaporated as players ran down the field trying to write down phone numbers of their newly found teammates. The Parade of Teams and Referees, the Soccerfest, the medals, T-shirts and pins for all players and coaches all started at the first National Games in 1988. The tradition of medals for all lasted for the first four National Games and the Soccerfest has grown to include all divisions.
The Games continued in 1989, 1990 and 1992 in Southern California. The early focus was to build the cadre of volunteers and introduce training opportunities for referees from across the country. In the 1989 Parade of Teams, the marching volunteer referees surprised the people in the stands by saluting the spectators in unison by flashing yellow cards!
Being credited as the Founder and Tournament Director for the first four National Games is something that Mike has always been proud of—and he salutes those who have carried on the spirit and traditions of the AYSO National Games.
John Ouellette has been
the face and voice of AYSO's
coaching program for over two
decades. Having served over
33 years as an AYSO volunteer
and 18 as a member of the
national staff, his contributions
to AYSO have had an almost
immeasurable impact on the
John started his career path in AYSO as a coach for his daughters in Utah's Region 239, and then became the Region and Section 9 Coach Administrator of Training for eight years. John then hit the national stage and served AYSO as its National Coach and Director of Coaching for 22 years.
He was responsible for the development of AYSO's National Coaching Program—a leader in the field of age specific training for players. He led AYSO in gaining its first and continuing accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education, an credential shared only by Special Olympics.
His influence is evidenced in many of AYSO's programs and materials. John was involved in the genesis of the Safe Haven program, the College Athlete Program, AYSO's online coaching courses, the "Just Let Them Play" video and the development of the National Coaching Course. John represented AYSO with many other soccer organizations and along the way travelled over a million and a half miles promoting AYSO. He was a technical consultant to and performer in the English Football Association coaching program video and a frequent presenter at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention. The impact John has had on AYSO and its imprint within the U.S. soccer community will last forever.
As keynote speaker at AYSO events, John wowed many an audience with his belief in and high expectations for AYSO coaches, his enthusiasm for the game and passion for AYSO's philosophies. It is impossible to count the number of players, parents and volunteers who have been moved by John's commitment to the kids and the organization as a whole. With his enthusiasm, humor and talent for conveying AYSO's message, no one would miss the opportunity to hear him speak or instruct, giving him the chance to motivate and inspire so many, and so well. Also of note is John's role as the instigator of the mayhem at the NAGM, otherwise known as the "T-shirt Lottery"!
John is back to his roots these days. While serving AYSO as a National Coach Instructor and continuing to participate in a few AYSO events, John is happy coaching grandchildren in Region 51, alongside wife Carol—an equally long-time volunteer, and his two daughters—Cori and Toni, who started the whole thing!