Celebrating 20 Years of SoccerMay 01, 2017 ● By Abigail Thrift
The FSA was established in 1996 with 300 players and 25 teams. Today, these numbers stand at 5,000 recreational players on 500 soccer teams. With this kind of participation, the FSA is the largest soccer association to date in the North Texas State Soccer Association (NTSSA). Misty Dilodovico, the current president, says, “The FSA is considered a foundation of soccer for the city of Frisco. We are a feeder for the middle schools, high schools and select soccer clubs giving players many avenues to continue to play, if they so choose.” Not only has the association had a real impact on the soccer world of Frisco, but they have also helped jumpstart the Miracle League of Frisco (MLF), providing soccer for children with special needs. While most Miracle League chapters across the country offer only baseball, the MLF has offered soccer for the past 10 years.
Believe it or not, soccer is not the FSA’s main priority. Their involvement in the community, their relationship with the city and the organization’s dedication to the partakers of their league is what really helps them shine. The FSA is entirely made up of volunteers. From coaches to referees, every member of the staff contributes on a volunteer status. As Steve Johnson, a member of the FSA board, shares, “We may all be volunteers, but we are very dedicated and it is a great way to give back, allowing us to be involved with not just a sport we love, but also with the city, the council and other leadership committees. Many of our volunteers have gone on to be a part of other city leadership roles after getting started here with FSA and they are enjoying what they are doing with Frisco.” This really sets an example mentality for all the players — one of leadership, perseverance and teamwork. Even Ms. Dilodovico’s daughter, who is only 13 years old, is one of FSA’s best volunteers. According to Mandy Moore, the office manager and registrar at FSA, “From being on a team, she has learned accountability and knows the player side of the association. Now, she sees the opposite side, the volunteer side, which presents its own set of unique obstacles. She is learning the art of how to work through these obstacles and come to decisions.”
The FSA sees itself as a leadership-based organization because one of the main pursuits is to make the player a “whole player.” Being a successful part of this organization means you understand what it means to be a part of a team, not just an individual. Ed Buckley, another board member, highlights a unique aspect of soccer when he says, “What is different about soccer to other sports is that, regardless of all the coaching that takes place during games and practices, when a player is on the field with their team, they are on their own with that team. It is essential they know how to work with their teammates. On the field, you learn to fill in spaces where there are gaps, to communicate and to be able to pull yourself and your teammates together when they are down. At least for me, the growth soccer gave my daughter is why I became involved with the board.” This mindset applies to the referees as well, a role all players can learn to fill. A child can get their first taste of this when they turn 12, refereeing games with three and four-year-old players. Training and learning for that craft is provided in a safe environment, with older refs constantly mentoring and assisting them on how to grow and be better.
The FSA is constantly focused on bringing up more well-rounded citizens in their players. Ms. Moore says, “I think a big part of why we are so successful is because we value the kids’ and the families’ experiences.” As a child, Ms. Moore was not involved in soccer, but watched as her sister loved her experience. “I noticed so many things she had that I did not have, like leadership skills being developed and new friendships being formed.” Ms. Moore picked up the role of registrar from her mother, who was at the FSA before her and was named North Texas Registrar of the Year for 2016-2017.
Twenty years is quite a milestone and the FSA has celebrated it from beginning to end. In the fall, Mayor Maher Maso presented FSA with a proclamation recognizing the staff, board and dedicated volunteers for services to the city of Frisco and recognized their strong relationship with the city for all these years. Along with this prestigious proclamation, Mayor Maso also declared November 1, 2016, as Frisco Soccer Association Day. There will be 20 surprise appearances by the players from FC Dallas, the local Major League Soccer team, at FSA practices, and on April 22, a 20-year celebration was held at Warren Sports Complex. The celebration was a family-oriented event, as the FSA so proudly encourages. Two coaches and two referees were nominated by players and parents to receive plaques for Coach of the Year and Referee of the Year. These honors were presented during halftime of the April 8 FC Dallas game. Among these wonderful festivities comes one that has been a tradition at the FSA. Each year, 12 college scholarships are handed out to recognize outstanding participants. This year, in honor and recognition of 20 wonderful years in service, 20 high school students received scholarships to pursue their dreams in higher education.
After 20 years of community, friendship and soccer, the association has no plans to quit any time soon. Ms. Dilodovico estimates the FSA will continue to grow with the Frisco ISD and will add 1,200 players by the year 2020. Adding to this, Mr. Buckley accentuates the association’s ever-continuous work with the city, saying, “As Frisco matures, we will see our numbers continue to increase and we hope our great relationship with the city over these many years will aid our volunteers and players in the growth of our need for training areas and fields.”
It is not just the growth of the FSA that excites board members, but the opportunities this presents for everyone involved are wonderful. From children getting their first taste of soccer and camaraderie to chasing whatever hopes they may have for the future with the numerous scholarships given out each year, the FSA is proud and honored to be a part of the growing community and they hope to keep growing along with it.