Sports Volunteer of the Month: AYSO’s John Maloney

AYSO Commissioner John Maloney on “game day” at Girsh Park in Goleta.

In the 10-plus years John Maloney has been involved locally with AYSO, tens of thousands of youth soccer players have benefitted from his selfless service and countless volunteer hours.

That’s a lot of young athletes.

Maloney’s contribution to helping kids and families experience the true joy of sport as a coach, referee and in leading the local American Youth Soccer Organization has led Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank to name the longtime AYSO Region 122 Commissioner as our local Sports Volunteer of the Month.

“John is the ultimate volunteer,” shares Ken Sorgman, AYSO Assistant Referee Administrator.

It’s early Saturday morning, last day of the regular season and it means one thing …

It means like nearly every single Saturday since early September, Maloney, 52, has already been here for hours with his all-volunteer team setting up and lining fields, lugging goals into position, readying the referee stations … basically doing whatever-it-takes to ensure the day’s schedule of a ‘hundred-plus’ games runs smoothly.

Presidio Sports catches up with Maloney at beautiful Girsh Park, already vibrantly alive with soccer life everywhere!!

It’s challenging to imagine all the precise planning, logistical details, scheduling and coordination involving many moving parts to help make this Girsh-AYSO scene all possible …

And Maloney quickly deflects individual accolades.

Instead, he shines the spotlight on AYSO and all who contribute significantly to its on-going success as one of the largest all-volunteer sports organizations on the Central Coast – if not the largest.

Maloney with longtime friend and volunteer, Pat O’Malley, 81, who currently serves as AYSO Youth Referee Monitor

It’s all a labor of love for Maloney throughout the year and it’s believed that he has ‘just the right touch’ — a rare and special blending of professional engineering training with his always-positive, can-do spirit … with his warm and engaging personal attributes … a seriously playful sense of humor …  and a hands-on, collaborative leadership style to make it all work in a fun way.

He started as an AYSO volunteer coach and referee 15 years ago when elder daughter Meghan (now 22) was playing. Both she, sister Carleigh (19) and even niece, Ashlie (20, who has lived with them these last seven years) all enjoyed long AYSO careers — only to be surpassed by ‘Pops’ who is still going strong!

Way back then, Coach Maloney was known for innovative training techniques – such as placing Barbie dolls on the far sides of the goal so these young female athletes would shoot away from the goalie. Hit the doll(s) and chocolate after practice!

Maloney has been at the AYSO helm for the last 12 years and it’s very likely this could be a lifetime volunteer gig – there’s nobody obviously ready or willing to jump in to lead this 1,200 all-volunteer member organization.

And it’s expansive Board of Directors, now 27 members strong.

It’s gotten so big that Maloney can no longer host these board meetings at his home, where he served as the ultimate host. Instead, they now meet regularly in the Mesa Café’s banquet room.

“They are very accommodating and very generous to us,” he says of restaurant staff.

And in leading AYSO, Maloney is not afraid to try something new – like the recent ‘Silent Saturday’ — as in no vocal sideline cheering — only clapping.

“It got mixed reviews from parents,” he claims. “The really good thing is that you could hear all the kids on the field talking to each other.”

Pacific Western Bank in Santa Barbara

This monthly series is made possible by Pacific Western Bank

He’s not sure if they’ll try it again next year …

And with playoffs looming large, with its always-predictable higher level of tension and sideline stress, Maloney proactively just sent out, like he does every year at this same time, what he refers to as, his ‘Hug-a-Ref’ email to remind all coaches, parents and families that it’s only a game and to appreciate those responsible for calling the action.

His own kids are grown — both daughters have successfully landed in Colorado.

And he works hard to ensure that all families can have a similar positive playing experience to what his family enjoyed years ago.

Wife, Valerie, has been by his side all along ….

In addition to having served on the AYSO Board for eight years and as U6-U8 girls division director for three, she led the 2002 charge to launch its Very Important Player (VIP) Division in providing a truly ‘equal playing field’ for kids with challenges and special needs — and was director for the first three magical seasons.

For many, if not all, it was/is their first ‘team experience.’

Like Christina Shackelford, now age 17 and a third-year DP Charger, who was one of these inaugural VIP players …

Her dad, Tyson, the first VIP coach …

“She was so excited that she wore her uniform to bed the night before her first game,” says Mom Sherrie.  “And she wouldn’t to take it off afterwards. She was sooo excited to play every Saturday!”

“VIP has fluctuated over the years. We had four teams at one point. And we’ll have about 14 kids here ready to play in about an hour,” Maloney indicates.

Throughout it all, it’s safe to say that nobody does AYSO quite like him ….

Mention ‘John Maloney’ to someone who knows him …. anyone whom he has touched through many years of soccer or some other aspect of local community life … and you get the same universal reaction — a smile sneaks across their face.

Oh, and a funny story on his impact:

“When he coached my daughter, he would occasionally yell out, “Dead Ants!!” as the opposing team kicked-off. Everyone on the field would fall on their backs and stick their arms and legs straight into the air,” laughs soccer mom Teri Klobucher.

“Or when we had a parent meeting at my home years ago, it was around Halloween,” embellishes another former team mom. “Well, John surprised us when he arrived dressed as a pirate with capes and eye patches for everyone … and that’s how we had the meeting!”

“John is never hard to find in a crowd and especially in a crowd of soccer parents – he is always making something good happen,” shares Fred Kass, seasoned former AYSO soccer ref and local cancer doc.

Yes, our October 2012 ‘reluctant honoree’ John Maloney, is an incredibly dedicated leader … a totally fun guy… with the biggest heart around …and the best cheerleader AYSO could ever have in promoting the joy of sport and in making a positive difference in sooo many lives …

Today.

Tomorrow.

Over the years.

And especially on Saturdays!!

2012 AYSO Region 122 — By the Numbers

  • 50,000+         Total hours contributed by all-volunteer organization
  • 2,972             Athletes ranging in age from 5 to 19
  • 2,200              Games during the regular season
  • 1,200             Total volunteers
  • 600                 Volunteer referees
  • 254                 Regular season teams
  • 28                   Playing fields
  • 27                   Board of director members
  • 25                   Post season all-star (17) & travelling teams (8)
  • 16                   Total divisions (boys/girls from U6-U19)
  • 3                      Playing venues – UCSB (Storke & 1 synthetic turf) & Girsh Park
  • 1                      Very Important Players Team

Top 10 John Maloney Fun Facts

  • Started as a volunteer AYSO coach & ref in 1997 & ‘Commish’ since 2000.
  • Loves rugby and played with SB Grunions in his ‘prime’!
  • Grew up mostly in New London, Connecticut and moved around east coast as dad was captain in U.S. Coast Guard. Attended Lehigh University (BSEE). Masters (Systems Management) from USC.
  • Once worked as a clown for Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus!
  • Served four years in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Vandenberg AFB.
  • Professional Electrical Engineer, by trade – holds 7 professional licenses!
  • Has tons of energy –- allegedly only sleeps a few hours a night!
  • Since 1994, has operated award-wining JMPE Electrical Engineering and Design http://www.jmpe.net/jmaloney.html with offices in Santa Barbara and Bakersfield, totaling 15 employees.
  • ‘Maloney Glass’ always more than half full!
  • Universally loved … humble dude …  jolly good fellow … booming baritone voice … and just a ‘big little kid,’ at heart!!

VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH

Pacific Western Bank in Santa Barbara

This monthly series is made possible by Pacific Western Bank

Volunteers often go under-recognized even though they are extremely important to the athletic community.

So important that many of the sporting events and organizations key to our lives wouldn’t be possible without those who donate their time to assist others.

Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have joined forces to change that. This new monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many.

To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.

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