ASA’s Lizzy Stell, long a critical piece of the Travel soccer puzzle, was duly recognized on Saturday, February 11, as VYSA’s Administrator of the Year for 2016.

Lizzy receiving her award from VYSA President Denise Edwards

Lizzy’s award comes as a result of her efforts in three primary areas.  The full citation is presented below.

1)    Involvement with soccer and community:

Lizzy Stell is an outstanding soccer administrator and has been instrumental in helping the Arlington Soccer Association transform from a disparate group of Travel soccer teams into a true soccer club.  She has been involved with ASA for most of her life.  Lizzy started as a recreational player in Arlington and later joined an Arlington Travel Soccer team.  She played for Arlington’s Yorktown High School and then went on to play for the University of Mary Washington’s Womens Soccer team.  When she moved back to Arlington, she wanted to give back to the soccer community, so she started coaching in 1997.  She spent a number of years coaching Recreational and Travel teams for ASA.  She led her girls Travel team, the “Arlington Boomers”, to the Virginia State Cup championship in 2001 – the first Arlington team to achieve that distinction.  In 2002 she left coaching and moved on the role of Arlington Travel Soccer Administrator.

Under her leadership as Administrator, Arlington’s Travel program grew from about 650 players in 2003 to close to 1,200 players today.  Lizzy’s proactive management of the program, coupled with a serious “can-do” attitude, has been a major factor in that success.

Lizzy is always looking for ways to improve the soccer experience for Arlington youth.  She helped develop a policy manual and is constantly striving to improve the ever-challenging tryout process.  Her work promoting tryouts and the overall program has resulted in greater numbers at tryouts and a greater player pool diversity.

2)    Promoting the game:

Arlington County has gone through tremendous change during Lizzy’s tenure, and she has helped ASA keep up with the changes.  She has helped advocate for more soccer fields and she has forged a strong partnership with the Sports Office at the County.  She has reached out to the immigrant community and has helped inspire more girls to participate.  As an engaged resident of Arlington County – from neighborhood activities to volunteering at her children’s schools – she has developed a broad perspective of how soccer fits into the overall community structure and has proactively helped guide the club in a positive direction.  She is so passionate about soccer that her enthusiasm for the sport spreads and makes the game a more enjoyable experience for all around her.

3)    Accomplishments:

Players, parents, team managers and coaches all rely on Lizzy to keep “all of the balls in the air” and they know that Lizzy has their backs if they run into a tough situation.  She is masterful at juggling a schedule to make sure a coach with multiple teams can fulfill all of his / her commitments.  If a field is closed by the County, Lizzy scrambles to secure a replacement space for the teams affected by the closure.  She works hard to distribute fields (turf vs. grass) as equitably as possible amongst teams.  Lizzy wakes up at the crack of dawn on in-season weekends to make sure fields are ready and available.  She helps leagues deal with issues such as switching fields due to bad weather, trouble-shooting when a field is not “game ready” and handling other situations that inevitably arise.  It is a tremendous amount of responsibility and she handles it all with grace.

One team manager wrote that she showed up for an early Sunday morning game and found the nets and flags were missing.  As much as she hated to call Lizzy early on a weekend, she did not have anywhere else to turn.  Lizzy cheerfully answered the phone and offered to bring extra equipment to the field so the team would not have to forfeit.  Equipment delivery is not in Lizzy’s job description, yet this sort of “above and beyond” service is what Lizzy has become known for in the Arlington soccer community.

Another team manager wrote that she could not do her job without Lizzy.  “She is patient, understanding of the stresses of a team manager, and is quick to offer advice and solutions to problems” she wrote.  “My sense is that she puts in many hours more than anyone knows.”

Coaches are also huge fans of Lizzy’s.  “She is passionate about the club and always is helpful” wrote a coach who has worked with Arlington since 1997.  “Since she has a background as a coach, she is cognizant of the challenges coaches face.  We’re exceptionally fortunate to have someone who care so much for the Arlington club.”

Some of her success is revealed by looking at the numbers.  I mentioned the increased player count above.  Arlington participated in 3 leagues in 2010, and now ASA plays in 7 leagues.  Arlington had 50-something Travel teams in 2010 and now fields 87 teams from U9 up through U19/20.  Even as Arlington’s overall staff has grown, Lizzy has worked hard to cover many aspects of the Travel administrative world and has helped ASA manage this growth in a smooth and orderly fashion.

While Lizzy helps the coaches and team managers do their jobs better, her primary focus has always been the kids.  She does all she can to ensure that Arlington Travel Soccer players have the best experience possible.  Our club, and those ASA interacts with, are better as a result.