Dear VIP Participant,
It has been almost 14 years since we started the VIP Soccer Program. Mark Linsky, who at the time was the Area 2J director, asked me if I was interested in starting a soccer program for children with special needs. Together, along with Donelle Woleslagle, Art Zimmermann, Jose Payne, and Van Nelson, we put a plan in place to get the league started. We had a vision that all children regardless of ability would have an opportunity to play soccer. We were able to fulfill this vision with the help of many volunteers. Certainly, there would be no program without the coach volunteers. They provide loving support to all of their players. There are three current coaches who were coaches back in 2003, our first season: Brian James, Lori Stafford, and Mark Stark. Now that is dedication! We also rely on youth volunteers who, as buddies to our players, have guided and watched over our players. They have truly enriched our program. Van Nelson has been recruiting and managing the youth volunteers for many years. Other volunteers include Cindy Furino and Lori Nelson, who do whatever needs to be done, including coordinating picture day to assigning buddies to teams. There are other people, who behind the scenes, have contributed to the program. Art Zimmermann was instrumental in securing funds so that we could operate the league. He also orders the supplies we need. Through the years, the people who make up the AYSO Area 2J board, who are also volunteers, have been very supportive. All of these people have worked together to make this league a reality. I also want to acknowledge the parents of our players. As a father of a child who has challenges and as a person who has worked with children with special needs through the schools, I have a great amount of empathy for parents with children with special needs. We all have hopes and dreams for our children, and my hope is that this program has provided parents with a sense of joy seeing their children play a sport. I commend the players for the inspiration they have provided to all of us. I like to acknowledge three current players, Rohan Sawhey, Robert Stark, and Jeffrey Zhang. They been with the program since the beginning. It is with a sense of accomplishment and sadness that this will be my last season with VIP Soccer. I have decided that after almost 14 years, it is time for new leadership. I feel that I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be associated with so many wonderful people through this program.