LAHAINA - The list of names that makes up the board of directors of West Maui AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) for 2012 is a familiar one in the Lahaina community. It is such a steadfast group that one could simply shift a few names around, and the resulting leadership staff would be pretty much the same as, let's say, ten years ago.
Currently atop that list is West Maui Regional Commissioner Annie Hayes, who, along with her husband, James Hayes, has helped guide the organization since 1999.
They are joined by a familiar slate of West Maui AYSO volunteers that includes Owen Ueno, Marilyn Ueno, Tony Griffith, Mark Altier, Annabehl Sinclair Delaney, Sky Delaney, Holly Pendergast and Tehani Villalobos.
West Maui AYSO thanked volunteers and the county Parks Department for their help.
New to the board is Nicole Okada, who recently arrived on Maui. And yes - her husband is Steven Okada, whose family was a large part of the youth tennis success in Lahaina a generation ago.
"This is such an ideal, wonderful community," said Annie last week from her family business office, Westside Glass at Emerald Plaza.
"That list of people on the board are so in tune with the organization, and there is a long list of volunteers serving as coaches and referees... this year, we've seen a number of kids who went through the program coming back to help. There is about 35 of them who have come full circle to become a part of the leadership group that are given the tools to become effective child leaders as coaches and referees. This is so important, and it's good for everybody involved - good for the parents to see their teenagers putting forth the effort. It is a huge organization, and we are always in need of volunteers."
There are some 300 kids ages 4-14 registered for West Maui AYSO this year to fill the rosters of 32 teams that comprise the six divisions from U-5 to U-14 age groups. There are no coed teams, and the older three levels will play a travel schedule with teams from the Upcountry, Central and Kihei districts.
Fifty teams from the four regions participated in the 2012 Maui Friendship Games at Eddie Tam Field last weekend. This unique event seeks to bring the four districts closer together in a tournament that rewards sportsmanship over goals scored or games won.
A unique aspect of West Maui AYSO touched on by Commissioner Hayes is the large number of Hispanic children involved in the league.
"Over 70 percent of the kids are Hispanic, and very few of the coaches speak Spanish. Even here at the office when I receive a call from one of their parents, I have to run next door and get a translation from the guy over there that speaks the language," she explained with a giggle.
She elaborated that all coaches must go through background checks, and it can be difficult to get Hispanic parents through the process. Hayes breached the subject at AYSO conferences here and on the Mainland, and she feels that progress is being made. "The situation is improving, and we do appreciate the cooperation of all involved," she added.
The AYSO season began on Sept. 15 and runs through mid-November. The West Maui organization is planning a recognition get together at the end of the season.
"We'd like to recognize volunteers like Karen Murphy that have given their time for years and years, after their own kids have long been through the league. They are loved by all," Annie said.
She praised the sponsors and boosters of West Maui AYSO, including Kona Ice Maui and Jim Falk Motors of Maui.
"These are designated sponsors of West Maui AYSO. Jim Falk Motors is one of four Hawaii Chevrolet dealerships that are sponsoring a raffle for an opportunity to win a 2013 Chevy Equinox or Chevy Cruze. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the referee tents in the middle of the Lahaina Recreation Center Field on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. We're running a contest for individuals and teams that sell the most tickets to win pizza parties and gift bags," she said.
"All proceeds are earmarked for new field equipment - in particular, new goals that have been repaired over and over through the years and are currently in dangerous condition. New goals will cost about $7,500, and we are truly thankful for this effort and to Jim Falk Motors."