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Soccer silence

AYSO rule gets mixed reviews

Posted: November 16, 2008 7:36 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2008 4:30 a.m.

As 11-year-old Adam Volpei kicked the soccer ball into the goal Sunday morning, his mom, squirming in her chair, gave him gave two thumbs up and quietly said, "Woo!"

It was about all she could do to celebrate at the American Youth Soccer Organization soccer game at Arroyo Seco Junior High Sunday morning. It was Silent Sunday and parents and coaches were supposed to hold their tongues.

Kids played to the sounds of only the quiet murmur of parents chatting and the rustling leaves of the nearby sycamore trees. The day of silence was the first for the Santa Clarita division of the AYSO and was meant to encourage kids to communicate with each other and play without interference from the sidelines.

AYSO games at Rio Norte Junior High also observed the day of silence.

With the exception of a clap or a "Woo!" or a softly-spoken conversation, coaches and parents had to keep their mouths shut. The rule got mixed reviews.

"This is a measure that regions take when then they begin to see their sidelines getting out of control," said referee and board member Scott Cruit of Saugus.

The region will consider the feedback from the players, parents and coaches and evaluate the success of the rule of silence, he said.

"I've seen (parents) lose sight that this is a child's game," he said. "This is developmental. These guys aren't being scouted for the Olympic team or the national team. This is where they learn, and they learn also by making mistakes."

He said he saw players on each team step up and take over as coach on Sunday.

"From what I saw in my game, I saw kids who reacted better from their peers than they have from their parents and coaches," he said.

He said one of the main philosophies of AYSO is positive coaching and that philosophy seems to get lost sometimes.

"A dozen people are trying to direct and many have never played the game before and don't understand the concept," he said. "It's information overload."

Some parents were not fans of the silence. Adam Volpei's mother, Renee, was upset she couldn't scream and cheer when her son made the goal for his team, the Flames.

"It's a little sad you can't scream and yell. It's actually supporting the kids," she said. "If one of the kids gets a goal for the first time and you can't even scream and yell and get excited for that kid, how sad is that?"

"It's absurd," said Adam's father, Jon Volpei. "The coach can't coach. At this level, the kids don't play good position. It's basically mayhem out there. They're reinforcing bad habits."

Roger LaPlante, who coached the Samurai team Sunday, said it was tough for him to have to bite his tongue as he watched his team lose.

"When you have a team that's an underperforming team, you can't say anything to them," he said. "I see the idea behind it, to see how the kids do without being yelled at, but I don't see the harm in giving some simple instructions. You just have to watch them make a bunch of mistakes."

According to one player, only certain types of cheering are distracting.

"The thing that distracts me is usually the other team that cheers, but when my team cheers I'm OK with it," said 10-year-old Ryan Stewart who plays offense and defense on the Flames team.

"I wanted my parents to cheer me, but it was fun."


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