A History of the West Chester United Soccer Club:
The roots of the West Chester United Soccer Club started in the Fall of 1976 as the “Soccer Youth Association” (SYA). Mr Mike Pointer is credited with starting SYA after moving to West Chester and finding no soccer programs for children in the community. Beginning with 3rd and 4th graders, and with the help of a few parents, four intramural teams (aka recreational teams) were formed. The program was so successful that it was repeated in the Spring 1977. By the end of 1979, the SYA had teams for all elementary school grades. Saturday games were played at Hillsdale Elementary School. The cost was $25, including a uniform consisting of a shirt and a pair of socks. Mike was the club’s first president.
In Fall 1978, the first travel team was created with boys born in 1969. Gary Hyatt was the team’s coach. In Spring 1979, a second team (B team) was created for the purpose of being a feeder team for Mr. Hyatt’s A team. Bill Moore was selected as the B team coach. The teams played under the West Chester Soccer Club banner. Club colors were green and white, and uniforms were supplied by Kelly Sports.
Other travel teams soon followed. The 1971 birth year team coach was Jack Shapiro, who also became the next club president. The club grew steadily. The youth programs expanded into the middle school and high school ages. The intramural teams out numbered the travel teams. The club patch was a bit primitive by today’s standard, oblong in shape and featuring a canon.
As the West Chester Soccer Club continued to grow, a small but dedicated set of volunteer leaders kept the early club heading forward. Most notable were Jack Shapiro, Betty Moore, Mike Barkasy, and Tony Pizzi. The articles of incorporation were completed in 1981.
Another club, called West Chester Suburban, was started by Dick Arscott around the same time. Suburban featured travel teams only, and thus was smaller than the West Chester Soccer Club. Club colors for Suburban were blue and yellow, and the teams were quite competitive.
Soccer for girls in the area was growing as well, and both clubs formed travel teams for boys and girls alike. Well before Title IX, the local soccer clubs offered equal opportunities for girls and boys. The girl teams played in the TriCounty Soccer league, while the boys played in the Delco Soccer league.
To avoid the awkward situation of competing for the same players, and to strengthen the quality of all teams, the West Chester Soccer Club and the West Chester Suburban Soccer Club merged to form the West Chester United Soccer Club in 1985 (although the articles of incorporation weren’t completed until 1988). Jack Shapiro was elected President and Rick Silva was elected Vice President. Don Pusey was in charge of the travel teams and Debbie Pusey was the club’s secretary. The newly formed club selected black and silver as their colors, and developed a new patch/emblem featuring a two-headed eagle (signifying the merger of WCSC and Suburban). Fred Valentino succeeded Jack Shapiro as president in 1988.
One of the early value propositions for WCUSC was to provide a welcoming environment for all soccer players, boys and girls, regardless of their skill level or athletic ability. So whether the young person only wanted to play recreationally in the fall or if they were the serious year-round player who aspired to the highest levels of the sport, there was a place for them in WCUSC.
The club has always been a non-profit organization, run by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. It is an active member in the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Association, the US Youth Soccer Association, the US Club Soccer Association, and the US Soccer Federation.
In 1990, Dan Kennedy was elected club president. He has served continuously in that role to the present day. Dan provided leadership and has created an environment which fosters growth, new ideas and new partnerships, and fiscal responsibility. As the longest serving club president, he has provided a steady hand in guiding the club as it strives to fulfill the value proposition described earlier.
During the early years of youth soccer in West Chester, many players took advantage of attending the Joe Leitner Soccer Camps during the summer. Mr Leitner provided excellent instruction early on to our West Chester players. Goalkeeper-specific training was begun in earnest through the Papalia Goalkeeper Camps. Training for coaches was also provided on a regular basis and several of the travel team coaches took USSF-license courses.
In August 1989, the club launched the first West Chester Annual Classic Soccer tournament. With a modest start of five U-12 boys teams and four U-14 girls teams, the two-day tournament was held at East High School. The annual event has grown considerably since its inception and typically hosts around 175-200 teams.
The first WCUSC team to travel overseas was the 1976 birth year squad coached by Bill Moore and Goeff Bowen. Traveling to Hirschau Germany in 1989, and again 1992, the team played matches with Hirschau and other area clubs, and enjoyed the camaraderie of others who shared the enthusiasm of this great sport. The Hirschau club came to West Chester in 1990 to play in the club’s Annual Classic tournament (the same year Germany won World Cup). Bill Moore coached teams for West Chester United for a staggering 31 consecutive years!
Several boys and girls travel teams won league and cup championships in the 1990s, and many players continued playing soccer at the college level. One team that enjoyed much success was the West Chester United Knights. Formed in 1992, the team holds the club record for winning 351 matches and 8 league championships over a 9-year period. They also qualified for the Dallas Cup twice. The team produced 10 Division 1 college players and three professional players, including the club’s first MLS and US Men’s National Team player, Jeff Larentowicz.
As soccer grew in West Chester, so did the space needed to meet the demand. The West Chester Area School District has been an outstanding partner for many years. However, it soon became clear that the club needed additional fields. Through the leadership and tireless efforts of Mike Hazley and Derald Hay significant progress was made. The club signed a long-term lease with Mr Delacy, owner of a multiple-acre parcel of land near the Brandywine Creek. Five beautiful game and practice fields, along with parking, were built.
A second, even larger soccer complex was developed in Thornbury Township. Under a long-term lease with the township, the soccer park along Rte 926 became a reality. The large soccer complex contains five full size beautifully manicured fields, three smaller fields for the younger set, ample parking lots, and a functional club house. The club owes a debt of gratitude to Mike Hazley and Derald Hay for their contributions to West Chester United Soccer Club, and to the township leadership of Chuck Wilson and Mahlon Rossiter.
In the late 1990s, the West Chester Sports Complex at the Chester County Government Services building was conceived by Mr Al Kelly. Under Mr Kelly’s leadership, the West Chester Area Sports Association was formed. West Chester United Soccer Club joined with the Sports Association to fund a lighted field at the complex.
In the 2000's, Damon Nolan was instrumental in his role as Executive Director creating a more professional player development environment - managing the organization for several years. During that time Damon and the Board of Directors led a major capital campaign to install an all-weather synthetic turf soccer field at the WCASA complex. The turf field enables year-round play for players of all ages. Diane Moran joined the organization in 2006 and has served our membership in a variety of roles focusing on operations & financial adminstration. Diane is currently our Travel Team & Financial Administrator. During the winter of 2007 both Mark Thomas and Tino Mueller were hired as Directors of Coaching & Programs. Under their leadership the club has developed into a true 'full service' soccer club with a variety of supplemtary programs and events. With a focus on coaching and programming excellence the club has gained a reputation for professionalism and quality at the younger age groups. Seven years on Mark and Tino continue to lead the organization with support from the Board of Directors, ensuring that all areas of the club maintain their quality and stability.
In 2009 WCUSC & Spirit United Soccer Club created a joint Venture called Penn Fusion Soccer Academy (PFSA). The joint venture was developed to improve the clubs ability to compete consistently at the Regional and National Level; and to also improve the player pathway for our talented college bound players. PFSA has been extremely successful, since 2009 over 140 players have committed to Collegiate rosters at the NCAA D1, D2, & D3 levels. During 2013 the Spirit United Soccer Club decided to dissolve the partnership, the PFSA program is now soley managed by WCUSC. In recent years several players from with the PFSA program have been selected to USA Youth International Teams. Also in 2013 PFSA became an official player development partner of the Philadelphia Union MLS Professional Club. To date 13 players have progressed from the PFSA program to represent the Philadelphia Union.
The club continues to grow from year to year, its an exicting time to be part of WCUSC!