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U.S. Men’s National Team captain, Carlos Bocanegra, played AYSO while growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. His first team was coached by his mom and named the California Kickers.
The two-time World Cup veteran has been the captain of the U.S. National team since 2007, and most recently lead the team to its first ever group win in World Cup history in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He’s had 107 appearances for the team, scoring 13 goals and plays can play both at center back and left back. In 2009, Bocanegra captained the team that defeated No. 1 ranked Spain in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Bocanegra has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup twice with the National team (2002, 2007). He played his first game with the senior National team on Dec. 9, 2001, against South Korea.
Currently playing in Spain, Bocanegra plays for Racing Santander. Prior to the 2012 season, Bocanegra captained Scottish side, the Rangers. In the 2010-2011 season, Bocanegra was playing for French first division team Saint-Etienne, scoring his first goal on Dec. 15, 2010. Prior to the 2010 season, Bocanegra played fellow French team, Stade Rennais. In his first season with the team, he played in all 38 league matches, scoring his first goal on March 8, 2009. He also scored at the Coupe de France final. Bocanegra started his European career in the English Premier League (EPL), playing for Fulham FC. During the 2006-07 season, Bocanegra was the team’s second leading scorer, with five goals. Before making the leap overseas, Bocanegra played for the Chicago Fire from 2000-03. During his time with the Fire, Bocanegra won an U.S. Open Cup (2000), MLS Rookie of the Year (2000), MLS Defender of the Year (2002, 2003) and MLS Cup runner-up (2000, 2003).
Shannon Boxx, who has won both an Olympic Gold Medal and NCAA Division 1 College Cup for Notre Dame, started playing AYSO when she was four-years-old in Torrance, CA.
“I remember the oranges and halftime, parents lining up on the sideline to make a tunnel after the game and Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ blasting on the boom box,” Boxx remembers of her AYSO days. “I learned that real ball skills were more important than tricks to win the ball in AYSO. I also learned that it was ok to get knocked around and fall down while playing soccer. You just got to get back up again!”
This past summer, Boxx was part of the Olympic gold medal team in London. Boxx played in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, where the U.S. finished second. As of September 2012, Boxx has played for the U.S. Women’s National Team 172 times, scoring 24 goals. Boxx played every minute of all five U.S. games during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and helped the women reach the semifinals in the 2007 World Cup. Missing most of the 2006 season due to injury, Boxx was named a finalist for the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year, coming in third. Boxx won a Gold Medal in the 2004 Olympics. Boxx made her first appearance with the U.S. Women’s National team after being named to the 2003 World Cup squad. Boxx became the first American woman to score three goals in her first three games with the national team. She started all five World Cup games, and was voted player of the game against Canada by the FIFA Technical Study Group.
The midfielder was allocated to the Los Angeles Sol in the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) season in 2009, where she also captained the team, scoring three goals and three assists. After the Sol dispersed, Boxx was selected by St. Louis Athletica. Prior to joining the WPS, Boxx played in the now defunct WUSA for San Diego Spirit and New York Power. During her time in the league, Boxx scored six goals and 15 assists. Boxx also helped the University of Notre Dame win their first NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship her freshman year in 1995.
Age started playing soccer: 4
Favorite AYSO memory: Oranges at halftime, parents lined up on the sidelines to make a tunnel after the game, and Prince’s “Purple Rain” blasting on the boombox.
Favorite AYSO coach and why: I don’t remember his name, but I do remember he taught us that real ball skills were more important than tricks to win the ball. I also learned that it was ok to get knocked around and fall down while playing soccer. You just get back up again!
What advice would you give a first-time AYSO coach? Make soccer fun for the kids and get them to enjoy it first, then teach them skills. The most important thing is to have fun on the soccer field; winning is not so important. If you teach the value of teamwork and you instill that early, that’s what’s important.
When Julie Foudy won two World Cups and two Olympics medals, she wore the number 11 – the same number that she wore when she started playing AYSO at age 7 while living in Mission Viejo, CA.
“I begged my mom to sign me up for soccer and joined a team called the Strikers,” said Foudy. “When it came to pass out the shirts, I knew what I wanted. I was this feisty little 7-year-old who thought I was the best, so I should have the No. 1. They told me the goalie has to take that number, so I went with the double No. 1. That’s how I became No. 11 for the rest of my life. Thanks to the Strikers.”
Foudy has many fond memories of her AYSO experience that led to one of the most illustrious careers in women’s sports history. She believes that being allowed to enjoy the game and explore it on her own terms was the key to her success.”AYSO emphasizes all the positives of soccer: the enjoyment that kids get from the sport, understanding how to play on a team and be a good teammate, and developing skills in a fun environment. I watched my nieces and nephews go through AYSO and I look forward to watching my own kids enjoy soccer through AYSO!”
Foudy retired in 2004 after captaining the U.S. Women’s National Team 13 of the 18 years she played on it. She played in three Olympics and four World Cups. And, only two players in the world, former teammates Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly top Foudy’s 271 U.S. National Team appearances.
Foudy’s U.S. National Team soccer career is a storied one. She’s won two World Cups (in 1991 and 1999), two Gold Medals (in 1996 and 2004) and a Silver Medal (in 2000). In her 271 appearances for the U.S. National Team, Foudy scored 45 goals. Foudy played pro soccer with the San Diego Spirit of the now defunct WUSA, where she captained all three years. Foudy was inducted to the AYSO Hall of Fame in 2006 and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.
Foudy’s had a profound impact off the field as well. She was the President of the Women’s Sports Foundation from 2000-2002, served on the Women’s Sports Foundation Board of Directors for seven years and was a WSF advocacy consultant for two years, with a focus on Title IX, childhood obesity, and athletes’ rights issues. Foudy currently sits on the board of Athletes for Hope (AFH), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created by successful athletes who have a deep commitment to charitable and community causes. Foudy is the global spokeswoman for Global Girl Media, a new non-profit helping young women around the world find their voice through journalism. She is also an ambassador for Beyond Sport, a global organization that promotes, develops and funds the use of sport to create positive social change across the world. Foudy has been instrumental in a number of women’s rights and child labor issues around the world. FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, awarded her the FIFA Fair Play Award for her work against child labor in the stitching of soccer balls. She was the first woman and first American to receive the award.
She is currently an analyst for ABC/ESPN and the NBC Olympics, director of her Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academies, a motivational speaker, and proud mother of two children, Isabel and Declan.
Age started playing soccer: 7
Why she loves AYSO: AYSO emphasizes all the positives of soccer: the enjoyment that kids get from the sport, understanding how to play on a team and be a good teammate, and developing skills in a fun environment. I watched my nieces and nephews go through AYSO and I look forward to watching my own kids enjoy soccer through AYSO!
Favorite AYSO memory: My AYSO coach gave us fun prizes for juggling, so I spent hours juggling and trying to reach those goals. We got something for 25 juggles, something else for 50, and on up. What that really taught me was the importance of time on the ball. When you love the ball, the skills and confidence follow.
What advice would you give a first-time AYSO coach? First of all, I’d tell them they’re not going to be an expert right away! They can read all the books in the world about the technical skills, but the most important thing is to create an environment where the kids feel comfortable and it’s fun to learn. You don’t have to turn them into an Abby Wambach or Landon Donovan…just let them have fun and love playing soccer!
A native of Southern California, Donovan was a member of the inaugural class of the U.S. Soccer youth residency program in Bradenton, Florida. He was named Player of the Tournament for his role in the United States under-17 squad that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship before signing with German club Bayer Leverkusen later that year.
Landon Donovan, an AYSO alum, started playing soccer at age 2 in Ontario, Calif., after his older brother, Josh, introduced him to the sport.
“Josh would take me out to the backyard and kick the ball around with me,” said Donovan, who joined an AYSO team at age 5 and kept playing AYSO until age 14. “The beauty of AYSO was that you had kids from all walks of life who just wanted to be active and run around and play soccer,” U.S. Men’s leading goal scorer Landon Donovan said. “I started playing club soccer at the age of 10 but I wanted to continue playing AYSO because I enjoyed the camaraderie and the ability to just play for the love of the game.”
Donovan turned pro at 16 years old, when he signed with German club Bayer Leverkusen. He’s come a long way in the past 12 years, becoming the most recognizable American soccer player. The 2010 Player of the Year currently plays for the U.S. National team and Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Los Angeles Galaxy.
A three-time World Cup veteran, Donovan is the all-time leader in both scoring and assisting goals for the national team; he also became the fourth-youngest player to reach 100 appearances for his country. He scored three goals in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, including the goal in the 1-0 defeat of Algeria, propelling the U.S. to the second round of the games. He scored two goals in the 2009 Confederations Cup, scoring against soccer power houses Italy in the group round and Brazil in the final. In his first World Cup, Donovan scored in the 2-0 Quarterfinal win over Mexico in 2002. Donovan has also represented the U.S. at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where the U.S. finished fourth.
Donovan has scored 124 goals in his 12-year MLS career. Last season, Donovan led the Galaxy to an MLS Cup title, scoring 12 goals throughout the season. The team also won the Supporters Shield (given to the team with the best record in the regular season). In 2010, Donovan helped the Galaxy win the Supporters Shield and became the all-time leading goal scorer for the team. Before the start of the 2010 MLS season, Donovan went to English Premier League (EPL) team, Everton, for a short loan. During that time, Donovan played in 13 games, scoring two goals and was named the January Player of the Month. In 2009, Donovan won the MLS’ MVP and Goal of the Year award. He led the team to the MLS Cup Finals, where the team lost in penalties to Real Salt Lake. Donovan has won three MLS Cup championships – one with the Galaxy (2005) and two with the San Jose Earthquakes (2001, 2003).
Age started playing soccer: 2
Favorite AYSO memory: I started playing AYSO when I was 5. Before that, my older brother, Josh, would take me out to the backyard and kick the ball around with me. My favorite AYSO memory is that I got to play on the same team as my best friend when I was 8 years old.
What he loved about AYSO: The beauty of AYSO was that you had kids from all walks of life who just wanted to be active and run around and play soccer. I started playing club soccer at the age of 10 but I wanted to continue playing AYSO because I enjoyed the camaraderie and the ability to just play for the love of playing. The games were still competitive but they never revolved around winning.
Advice for the first-time coach: One of my biggest pet peeves is youth team coaches who take winning too seriously. This has always bothered me, and I always tell coaches to forget about winning with young players. They need to create an environment where the kids enjoy playing and are developing their soccer skills. Winning should never be a priority.
Questions & Answers
“Probably the ‘99 World Cup team because that was the first time I’d seen women on TV playing soccer and completely dominating the game.”
“My dad was one of my first coaches. He influenced me greatly because he didn’t know anything about the game of soccer, but he decided to take it upon himself to learn the game and go to coaching and referee classes. And I felt like because he took it upon himself to learn the game better, it was great to have him coaching me and go out with me for extra practice, extra training and extra shooting. I always had a coach next to me that wanted to help make me better. In that way, he influenced me and wanted…and in turn I wanted to make him proud.”
“My favorite AYSO team when I was younger was called Blue Crush. I don’t really remember why, I think there was a movie, maybe, called Blue Crush and I think that may have been why. I do remember that we made it pretty far, we made it through like, the regional tournament and did pretty well and that was probably the best AYSO team I played for.”
“Back when I was an AYSO player my pregame ritual was probably to put on my cleats like three hours before a game and have my mom braid my hair. It’s a little different now-a-days, now I have a teammate braid my hair and put my cleats on right before I go out. So it’s a little different, but I don’t want my mom in the locker room, so sorry, my mom can’t braid my hair anymore. I still take a few things from when I was younger and apply that now.”
“Going to In-N-Out before a game and then everyone was so full and losing that game and being like, why did we eat burgers before a game?”
“Advice I’d give to young soccer players is to believe in yourself first of all and that hard work takes you way farther than any talent that you start off with. It’s really that simple. There’s no secret to success, but it starts with that self-belief.”
“My best moment as a pro soccer player would definitely be our very first game with Orlando Pride and seeing 24,000 people showing up for our first game.”
“My favorite hobbies off the soccer field are yoga, spending time out on our lake here in Orlando, taking my dog to the dog park and just hanging out with family.”
Oher Volunteer and Sports Related Experience:
National Programs Staff:
Other Accomplishments and Awards:
Current AYSO Roles:
Initiated Region 455 VIP program
Initiated Region 455 AYSO Scholarship for graduating
Platinum Area, 2007-2010
Expo Workshop Instructor, 2008–present
NAGM – Marketing Presenter, 2012-14
AYSO Marketing Commission Initiatives/Programs Led:
Fielding/interpretation of brand attitude and
Brand Positioning Study – implementation program to embrace AYSO’s marketplace perception (“Rec is Not
a Four Letter Word”)
Nationwide player programs survey – creation,
AYSO 50th Anniversary/”Project Gold” Task Team: Sponsorship, marketing and events development/deployment
Section Meetings re-branding (now AYSO Expo)
Fourth of July “Official Sponsor” concept
Created several original Marketing workshops for Expos.
Other Volunteer Work:
Former Coach, Little League Baseball, CYO Basketball
Former Team Parent, Patriots FC (ENY/USYS Premier League)
The TicTocStop Foundation / Camp Carton, for Children
NYC District 39 Participatory Budgeting Program.
Advertising & Marketing Communications Professional for 30+ years, overseeing strategy and execution for brands such as Marriott, Kellogg’s, Fisher-Price, Nabisco, LifeSavers, Del Monte, and many more.
Currently: Director, Digital & Social Media Intelligence, SMA NYC. Developed and built practice area, focusing on using analytics to develop insights that inspire creativity and results.
Honors, Accomplishments and Certifications:
Commissions and/or Task Forces:
Other Volunteer Work:
Other volunteer activities:
AYSO volunteer since 1999 for Section 12, Area D, Region 310 starting as a Referee.
Various Regional and Section positions to include:
Commissions and Task Forces: