A man who can wear many hats (or in this case many uniforms), Zane Gray is finally hanging up one of them. Over the last three years Zane has served as the Regional Commissioner for Morgan County American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), but in June he will be retiring. AYSO serves approximately 550 of Morgan County’s finest youth soccer players, ranging from four to nineteen years of age. These players can be seen each weekend in the spring and fall on the fields of the Morgan North Stake Bowery and Kent Smith Park in Mountain Green. It is probably the largest athletic organization in the county, yet little has been said about the man who has lead these efforts with no remuneration for his work.
Three years ago, Zane received a letter in the mail, which indicated that the local AYSO soccer program was going to dissolve, unless someone volunteered to take on the efforts as Regional Commissioner. Zane went on vacation, and found the letter still sitting on his counter when he returned. He mentioned it was ‘sort of nagging’ at him, so he finally made the decision to make an inquiry into the situation several weeks after receiving the letter. It turns out that he was the only one who made the call and saved the program! Zane has since served, not just as the Regional Commissioner, but simultaneously as a referee, a coach, and an all around “do it all” type of leader. His passion for providing an amazing opportunity to the youth of Morgan County is infectious and his dedication has been unwavering.
The reason AYSO is such a great option for the youth of our community is based on the AYSO mission of: everyone plays, balanced teams, open registration, positive coaching, good sportsmanship, and player development. Many of the great names in soccer including Landon Donovan and Julie Foudy got their start in AYSO. It is a safe place for kids to play, because the participants and spectators are reminded that the fields are a “Kid Zone”. All AYSO volunteers including coaches and referees must be Safe Haven certified and insurance is part of the registration fees. The emphasis is not on winning, but rather on providing a winning opportunity for kids. Zane has exemplified these qualities by leading with a caring and supportive manner. One of the board members stated, “Zane would support any decisions that I made. He always supported me 100%. It helped me be more confident in my ability to sort through any problems that came up... he is always recognizing us and acknowledging the time and effort we put into our jobs, ...He always seemed to know when I was about ready to call it quits and said something or showed up with something to keep my spirits up.”
Zane has lived in Morgan County for fifteen years with his wife Iris and their seven children. When asked what his greatest accomplishment over the last three years was, Zane recounted that he has been able to put Morgan County soccer “on the map.” Zane accomplished this by developing an inter-regional competition group, which travels to neighboring communities to play. This opportunity has given the players greater exposure to talent and also created a stronger determination for excellence. Of course, Zane helps to coach some of these older players in addition to his other duties!
Zane will be missed. AYSO is a non-profit organization run completely through volunteer efforts. Zane has been supported by a Board of Directors comprised of ten other local committed individuals: Melissa Kotter, Tracey Wilkerson, Kristen Korth, Willinda Briggs, Kellee Calder, Wanda Wilkinson, Jeff Stokes, Robyn Nelson, Lisa Hone, and Tiffany Ellis. With Zane retiring, many more volunteers are needed to fill positions such as: coach, referee, marketing/pr, special events, and auditor. Everyone is needed to help, not just parents. If you can help, please contact Morgan AYSO by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or check the webpage www.morganayso.com. Registration for the 2011/2012 season will be at the Morgan North Stake Bowery on May 14 and 21 from 9am to noon, and you can come to find out more about volunteer opportunities there, as well.
If you or one of your children has benefited from AYSO, please join us in thanking Zane by posting a message on the AYSO Facebook Page “Morgan Utah AYSO Soccer” or by sending an email. Our community is a better place due to the great efforts of the many people who donate their time and talents to uplifting others. Thank you Zane for your winning attitude and many years of service!