Soccer Turf Wars at Paul Revere Middle School Heat Up

By Sue Pascoe
Editor

A club soccer team has been granted a permit for a playing field at Paul Revere Middle School. If this decision by LAUSD goes unchecked, the AYSO Region 69 soccer program will lose a field that has been integral to its Saturday program for decades.

Revere’s grass athletic field is divided into two soccer fields: the large one (Sunset), closest to Sunset Boulevard, is for older players and the small field (Garden) is closer to the Revere greenhouse.

AYSO has been fighting for months to retain its use of both fields this coming season, as there is no available replacement field in Pacific Palisades or Brentwood.

The small field next to the buildings is called the Garden field and was given to AYSO. The large field nearer Sunset was given to a club soccer team by LAUSD. Photo: Sawyer Pascoe

The small field next to the buildings is called the Garden field and was given to AYSO. The large field nearer Sunset was given to a club soccer team by LAUSD. Photo: Sawyer Pascoe

Hopes were raised on July 7 when the Palisadian-Post published an article headlined “LAUSD Permits AYSO Use of Paul Revere Fields,” stating that the fields at Revere “will still be available to Region 69 teams.”

However, longtime AYSO volunteer Steve Morris quickly responded by email to AYSO supporters, writing: “While the reporter was busy congratulating AYSO for keeping its permit at Revere, the article was inaccurate while missing the point of the community’s alarm and outrage. AYSO was never in danger of losing Paul Revere; that was never the issue.

“What AYSO was protesting was the loss of all usage of the Sunset field to a club founded by and run by coaches who not only use the field for their SCDSL [Southern California Development Soccer League] purposes, but for private lessons and clinics as well.

“The 1,700 players of AYSO were relegated to the smaller Garden field, while the Chelsea club numbering less than 100 players [75 are currently listed on the SCDSL roster] was granted full control of the Sunset field,” Morris said.

From September through December, AYSO (a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization serving youth in Pacific Palisades and Brentwood) uses the Sunset field for weekday practices and on Saturdays for the Girls U12 games.

The field is not actually used by 1,700 AYSO players, as Morris stated, but nevertheless is an irreplaceable space for hundreds of players. This year the Girls U12 program already has 10 registered teams.

In prior years, AYSO has shared the two Revere fields with club soccer teams (Galaxy Alliance, now TSA-FC LA) and a lacrosse youth league. Field availability has never been an issue, until now.

The Chelsea Club operates under the JUSA Club out of Yorba Linda, because it lacks the necessary 10 teams to form its own club. (The current SCDSL website has rosters for six teams.)

Last year, Chelsea LA, which has players from Pacific Palisades, played its games at Yorba Linda.

A SCDSL administrator told the Palisades News that in order to schedule games here in the Palisades, the club has to show it has a permit for a field, for full days on Saturday and on Sunday.

SCDSL hadn’t received the Revere field permits from Chelsea as of July 13. “How they get the field is not our concern,” the administrator said.

Steven Rosen, general manager of the club team, told the News, “Chelsea SC LA is a year round non-profit soccer club based out of the Pacific Palisades. We appreciate the continued support that LAUSD, the staff at Paul Revere Middle School, our players and families, and the community provide us so that we can continue to develop youth soccer in our area.

“All youth sport programs face field space issues, especially in the Pacific Palisades area,”Rosen said.“We look forward to working with LAUSD and the community to find solutions to this growing problem.”

Club coaches are paid by parents and the cost starts at about $200 a month per child (for a year). Club soccer, by nature of needing to win and move up in brackets, does not dictate equal playing time among the players on a team.

In AYSO, all kids are required to play at least three-fourths of a game, and the cost for the season is $295. Coaches, referees, the registrar and even Janet Anderson, the regional commissioner, are not paid.

Teams exist for boys and girls from U5 (under 5 years of age) through U19. There’s a VIP Program (Very Important Players) for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to participate on mainstream teams. That program is held at the Calvary Christian School field.

The News contacted LAUSD to ask how the Revere permits were distributed and received a lengthy press statement from Board President Steve Zimmer: “I am a longtime supporter of AYSO . . . No matter how much we value a particular program, neither myself nor any local Principal is involved in the allocation of field use or schedules during non-school hours. This is the case for ob- vious reasons of fairness and objectivity in the space allocation process. . . .

“The district will continue to provide access to soccer fields using our established process to maximize objectivity.”

George Wolfberg, a longtime referee with AYSO and vice president of the Palisades Community Council, wrote the News: “Zimmer’s statement is disingenuous at best. Previous board members have been supportive of AYSO. He doesn’t seem to care.”

LAUSD also released a statement: “While AYSO is one of the largest users of field space for the District, we try our best to accommodate civic permit requests and provide equitable usage to all requestors.

“Civic center permits are short-term facilities agreement use permits designed to be economical so everyone has access to our school facilities.”

The News asked LAUSD media representative Elvia Perez Cano if a reporter could speak to the person who made the Revere decision.

“The answers provided have been formulated with the input from the Civic Cen- ter Permit Office,” Perez Cano said. “We have nothing further to add at this point.”

In June, AYSO volunteers started a petition in support of two Revere fields for AYSO, stating “It’s time the community raised its voice.” Visit ipetitions.com/petition/ayso69 for more information.

In response, a parent on the Chelsea team sentalettertoclubparentssaying,“Weare very grateful for the support of the school administrators at Paul Revere . . . I have already been in contact with LAUSD, who called me this morning about this, as well as the principal at Paul Revere.”

The email further explained, “Our coaches run the PEP program for soccer at Paul Revere, moving it from a seasonal to a year-round program. . . . The PE department at Paul Revere is thrilled.”

Revere is closed through July 20 and Principal Tom Iannucci could not be reached for comment about his relationship with Chelsea coaches and parents.

“Less than 100 kids are getting 50 percent of the space,” AYSO’s Steve Morris said. “We don’t want Chelsea kicked off. AYSO just wants to share the field in an equitable fashion.”

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