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Behind The Scenes at State Cup
Over the next few weeks, hundreds of teams featuring thousands of boys' and girls' players of all ages will take to fields across the state to begin a quest that, they can only dream, will end in Cup-lifting glory at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
With the fall President's Cup completed in December, the stage is now set for the three spring Cup events, the Commissioners' Cup, Challenge Cup and US Youth Soccer Washington State Championships! Preliminary-round games for some of these events began last weekend, with most of the others kicking off before the calendar turns to February.
As each weekend passes, hundreds of teams will become dozens, dozens will become many, and many will become a few, those last lucky squads invited to Starfire for the chance to compete for the prestigious State Cup trophies.
While the focus of the State Cups is rightfully placed on the success and enjoyment of the players on the pitch, it takes the coordination of hundreds of individuals – almost all volunteers – to pull off such massive, statewide undertakings. For every player who scores a game-winning goal, there are two volunteers working in the ticket booth, three more in the concessions area, and countless others whose exhaustive duties – from scheduling, to field reservations, to referee assignment, to award coordination – have already been completed by the time the game kicks off, but without whose work said kickoff could never occur.
In this issue of E-PlayOn!, we help celebrate the kickoff of this year's spring State Cups by catching up with a few of those volunteers to find out just what it takes to put together a State Cup event. If, after reading, you think volunteering at State Cup sounds like something you'd want to be a part of, contact Elizabeth Flannery at email@example.com to learn more about what positions are still available.
Gail Zimbelman and Leslie Poirier, State Cup Chairs
For most people around the state, the State Cups begin in January. Not for Gail Zimbelman and Leslie Poirier, Washington Youth Soccer's two State Cup Chairs.
"Really, it starts in October, when we have to start preparing for the application deadlines that come up in November," says Zimbelman, who has worked with Poirier to stage Washington's three spring State Cups — Commissioners' Cup, Challenge Cup and US Youth Soccer Washington State Championships — for the past four years.
After applications come in, the process truly begins. There are lists to be made, applications to be reviewed and cross-checked, draws to be prepared and conducted, bracketing to be done, schedules to be made and more.
And then it all has to be double- and triple-checked for accuracy. For all age groups, and both genders, in all three Cups.
Truthfully, coordinating the State Cups is a year-round job — and one that both Zimbelman and Poirier do on a volunteer basis, fitting in the many hours of work on nights and weekends through the busiest five-month stretch from October to February.
Zimbelman estimates that she and Poirier put in roughly 100 hours of work each before the first kicks are taken in January — and that's in addition to the more than 2,000 hours she estimates that Washington Youth Soccer's full-time staff members dedicate to the Cups, from scheduling fields and referees, to coordinating volunteers, distributing important information and more.
"It's really quite a production," she says, "just trying to make it work for everyone in the state. Our state is so large and diverse, with lots of different needs for different areas. It's important to us to make sure that everyone's interests are considered, and that takes a lot of time and coordination."
Ray Moffatte, Volunteer
It's possible that Washington Youth Soccer has no volunteer more passionate than Ray Moffatte. Like so many in youth soccer, Moffatte first became involved through a younger family member – in his case, a brother who needed a ride to practice one August day in 1986.
Soon, that brother's team needed a coach, and Moffatte volunteered to help out. When the team's club needed an administrator, Moffatte volunteered to help. When the club needed more referees, Moffatte got the necessary training. When a call for volunteers went out for State Cup many years ago, Moffatte turned out and helped manage crowds and oversee games.
You can see the pattern developing – wherever a need arose, Moffatte stepped forward to fill it.
"I am passionate about soccer," he says, "and believe that it is my duty to help these kids in any way I can. As a club administrator, I ask for volunteers all the time – how can I ask for help if I am not willing to provide that same help when asked myself?"
So it was that when Washington Youth Soccer decided to start a Challenge Cup, in addition to the State Championships held each year, Moffatte joined the committee to help put the event together. Years later, Challenge Cup has become a staple of the spring Cup season, giving players and teams above the rec level, but not at the elite State Championships level, the chance to experience the fun and competition of a State Cup event.
Most recently, Moffatte has worked State Cups as an announcer, a job he takes just as seriously as any he holds or has held with his club or teams.
"The first thing I do when I get to the field is check the pronunciations of all of the kids' names," he says. "I want to show respect for every player on the field by at the very least taking the time to get their name right."
These days, it is almost impossible for Moffatte to describe a "typical" day at a State Cup event – when he's not announcing, or refereeing (as he did at a State Cup final last year), Moffatte simply shows up at the field and says, "Tell me what to do."
"Without the work of volunteers, these events would still happen," he says, "but they wouldn't be the same. Sometimes, it just takes that one extra person to make a difference, to create a positive environment for the players, the coaches and everyone else. Any way I can, I want to be that person, and be an example to others.
"At the end of the day, some people are going to be very happy, and some sad, but if they can walk off the field saying, ‘That was a good experience, I can't wait to come back and do that again,' then I feel good about what we've accomplished."
David Marincovich, Volunteer
Like Moffatte, Marincovich is a jack-of-all-trades. In 37 years volunteering for Washington Youth Soccer, he's been an announcer, a referee and a field marshal. He's built tents, checked rosters and served as a tournament host – whatever needs to be done to create a first-class environment for the kids.
"I've been an announcer, I've been a field marshal, I've done stadium security, I've checked rosters," he says. "When the kids come back and they're grown up, and they introduce me to their wife and kids, that's the most rewarding thing."
Unlike many of his generation, Marincovich grew up playing the game of soccer, as taught by his parents. When his own children were old enough to begin playing themselves, Marincovich returned to the game as a volunteer.
"I was taught by my parents that when you have a chance to volunteer, you should help however you can," he says. "I'm retired, I have the time, and I figure I should give back. That's the way I was raised."
Marincovich says he doesn't care what he's asked to do when he arrives at the field — he'll do it out of a desire to give back to the game he loves.
"I'm a self-proclaimed soccer junkie," he says. "I enjoy being around the kids. They help keep me young — and out of trouble."
Interested in joining the team at this year's State Cup events? Contact Elizabeth Flannery at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities.
Washington Youth Soccer • 500 S. 336th St. Suite 100 • Federal Way, WA 98003
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