Our soccer community is left with a huge void as one of the greatest pioneers of soccer in Southern California and a leader in the United States soccer community, Sigi Schmid, has passed away on December 25, 2018. With heavy hearts, the AYSO community mourns his passing and offer our deepest condolences to his friends, family and to the countless lives he has touched.
As a man of many AYSO firsts, Sigi’s legacy is forever cemented in our history. Sigi was one of the first players of AYSO back in its founding year of 1964 and the first AYSO player to be inducted into the AYSO National Hall of Fame. A National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, all-time winningest Head Coach in MLS history (LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew SC and Seattle Sounders FC), three time NCAA National Champion at UCLA – the list of his hard work and sporting genius goes on. The state of soccer in the United States needed a leader and Sigi Schmid answered the call with open arms.
Beyond his countless accolades and illustrious soccer career, Sigi provided a fighting spirit to American soccer itself – adding to the beauty of the game through his genuine passion to grow the sport. AYSO was very fortunate to have Sigi’s involvement and support throughout the years.
Memories of Sigi will forever be held close to my heart. In the summer of 2017, I had the privilege to attend a mini-reunion in Torrance with Sigi and several others from the early years of AYSO in the 60s and 70s. They shared stories, memorabilia and photos from the days of AYSO’s founding. They reminisced about other families and volunteers who, through their commitment to the sport and the kids in the South Bay communities, made AYSO grow. That day we were fortunate enough to be in the presence of another Schmid family member, Sigi’s dad Fritz, who was one of the original AYSO program referees.
The AYSO National Office holds priceless relics of Sigi’s soccer progression. When told that a picture of one of his early AYSO teams “Firefighters” was mounted in the hallways of AYSO’s National Office in Torrance, he recalled it was the one and only time he played goalkeeper. The photo shows Sigi and his team decked out in tennis shoes and uniforms with a soda company logo where the AYSO logo is now.
Sigi’s love for soccer could be seen at every level of the game, from the pros to youth soccer, especially the grassroots. He spoke to his friends about the grassroots game and about the volunteers who, for the love of the game, contribute and support kids in their community. He described it as the purest form of the sport – where a child is allowed to play and to be themselves.
Sigi, you will be forever remembered as a legend, a pioneer, a winner and a true fan of the beautiful game of soccer. I am forever thankful for your lifelong contributions to AYSO and to soccer beyond.
Services for Sigi will be held this weekend in the South Bay area, not far from where his esteemed journey began.
– Mike Hoyer, AYSO National Executive Director