Historical Information

 

The Beginning . . .

AYSO Region 126

Cottonwood Heights

 

During the summer of 1976 an extraordinary woman and mother of twins from California named Bonnie Wagstaff relocated to the Cottonwood Heights area.   Bonnie became acquainted with a few others that felt Utah was lacking the game of soccer for their young girls and boys.  Some of the folks had also moved here from other states, a few were from the area. At that time, most of the ‘natives’ were unfamiliar with the sport of soccer much less equipped to teach it.

Being the take-charge person she was, Bonnie began the process of creating what was to become a very large, organized and successful soccer league.  With a vision of beginning games by fall of 1976 (just a couple of months away), a huge task loomed.  The obstacles were many, but she overcame them one at a time. 

Bonnie met with Dick Guthrie, Director of the Recreation Center or better known at that time as “The Spa”.  Being unfamiliar with soccer Dick first declined to offer field space.  The recreation center was committed to the existing football league.  Bonnie was not about to be denied.  She explained to Dick that with the current activities being offered there was not a viable sport to be had for girls.  With Title IX looming and Bonnie’s persistence, Dick realized the possibilities and offered field space. 

Bonnie contacted the AYSO organization she knew in California.  They sent a supply of necessary materials. At that point, Bonnie and a very small group of enthusiastic parents began calling schools in the area, putting up notices, spreading the word of sign-ups and all the other things necessary to form a league. 

In less than a month we registered 200 young athletes that first season.  An even larger task was convincing adults they could coach/referee a game they knew little or nothing about.  

Bennie’s garage and living room became our meeting and work place. We didn’t have time for titles, meeting minutes or other protocol.   We focused on our goal, prioritized and simply did what had to be done each day.  Time was short; fall and game time was approaching!  Uniforms and equipment were purchased. We often worked into the late night hours. Some sorted uniforms; others worked forming team rosters, telephone lines were burning in an attempt to secure coaches, referees and other volunteers.  It was learn-as-you-go for most of us.  Coach, referee, goalie training groups were formed.

This is a good time to emphasize that all of this and more was accomplished without cell phones, computers, scanners or SUVs!!  Just typewriters, home-phones and dedicated individuals.   Our initial registration forms were about 5-1/2” x 8”.  They were two-part forms using carbon paper! 

Bonnie figured out a way to construct goals.  With the help of  Freeland, our coaches and referees were taught how to place the goals. The first teams to arrive on Saturday put the goals up, the last teams of the day took them down and equipment was stored.  On a rotating basis, parents on each team brought oranges and water for the athletes.  Water was carried to the fields in coolers and given to kids in paper cups.  Trash bags were provided.  No junk food at the games, no sport drinks. There were no plastic containers or other debris left on the fields!  Each team was responsible to make sure their field was left clean and in the same condition as when they arrived.  The Rec Center appreciated our cooperation and appreciation for the use of the fields.  

Parents, siblings, grandparents, and the curious flocked to the games.  We were a success!

Within a couple of years we learned a lot, the league grew to 1,000 and shortly thereafter we were bulging with 2,000 kids.  Butler, Bywater, Antczak Parks and a couple of elementary schools were utilized by AYSO for games and practices.  We fit well between the football and baseball leagues! 

At this time, it was prudent to split the league.  Sandy City was the recipient of kids and adults that were familiar and excited about soccer.

Region 126 eventually became a training ground for girls, boys and support staff of all ages.  Many went on to play high school soccer.  At that time it was considered a club sport.  The Utah High School Athletic Association didn’t recognize soccer.

Many of our athletes went on to coach AYSO teams, coach at area high schools as well as a Sparta competition team!  Now their children are playing and enjoying the sport. WOW!!

Some of the original group that formed the league in 1976 were:  Bonnie Wagstaff, Alma & Freeland Thomas, Jackie & Lynn Burrows, Joan & Steve Harper, Marla & Craig Peterson, Klaus Schmidt, Frances Terrill, Dick Gaddis, Rich Wagner, Bob Barnhill, Jay Seegmiller, Ray Middleton.

April 2009 Alma Thomas
 
 
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