Four Washington Youth Soccer members earned the sport's highest honor Friday when they were named the best in their fields at the 2015 US Youth Soccer Awards Gala, held at the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel in conjunction with the US Youth Soccer Workshop, NSCAA Convention and 2015 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
John W. McKenzie, of Bremerton and Tracyton SC, was honored as National Boys Recreation Coach of the Year, while Ryan Dortch, of Bellevue and Eastside FC, was recognized as the National Girls Competitive Coach of the Year. In addition, William Fry, of West Seattle Soccer Club, was named National Administrator of the Year and 17-year-old Ryan Jane Riley, of Issaquah, was honored as the Young Female Referee of the Year.
Washington Youth Soccer's four honorees were its most ever in one year, and accounted for more than one-third of the 11 total National Of The Year winners announced Friday. No other state had more than two such winners in 2015. Individuals are nominated at the local level in each state, with state winners advancing to regional consideration and the four regional winners comprising the ballot for national honors, which are selected by the US Youth Soccer Board of Directors.
"To have four of our own contributors recognized as the best in the country speaks to the thriving soccer community here in Washington state, and the outstanding work being done at all levels by our Washington Youth Soccer clubs and associations," says Terry Fisher, Washington Youth Soccer's CEO.
In 13 years as a recreational coach, McKenzie has used soccer to instill the qualities of sportsmanship and teamwork in his players, who say he taught them how to be young men first and soccer players second. In addition to recreational coaching, McKenzie is involved in TOPSoccer, where he coaches and works as a buddy.
"I've always had the belief that a coach is not only responsible for making a person a good soccer player, but making a soccer player a good person as well," McKenzie says. "To receive this award shows that US Youth Soccer not only supports that mission, but endorses it, at all levels of the game."
Dortch, meanwhile, has coached for nearly 25 years, guiding several premier clubs and semi-professional teams. A former Washington Youth Soccer player, Dortch maintains his USSF "A" License while continuing to act as a mentor and role model within the soccer community. In his eight years at Eastside FC, he has led teams to on-field success while setting clear expectations for players, parents and coaches to follow in regards to showing respect and demonstrating good character to all participants.
"There are so many great coaches in our state, region and around the country, and it's just such an honor to be recognized as one of them," Dortch says. "I'm so grateful for it."
Fry has been instrumental in the development and growth of the local soccer community in West Seattle. During his tenure as president, the West Seattle Soccer Club nearly doubled its amount of registered players. Fry is active in promoting soccer through various events in the community and has brought in local professional players to motivate youth during club-sponsored clinics and camps. Also a licensed referee, Fry provides constant positive attitude for the many soccer participants in his community.
Rounding out the list of honorees is Riley, who shows a maturity and passion for officiating well beyond her 17 years. Riley says she enjoys refereeing because it gives her a chance to work on communication, people management and leadership skills — characteristics she regularly displays on and off the soccer field. She is also on the Washington Youth Soccer advisory board, which is comprised of 12 responsible students from across the state who are active in the game.