April 8, 2010 in Washington Voices

Spokane youth soccer ends lawsuit

Efforts by clubs to organize own group awaits vote
By The Spokesman-Review
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Spokane Youth Sports Association has reached an agreement with Washington Youth Soccer that ends a dispute over how recreational and elite soccer programs will be run in Spokane, and by whom.

SYSA sued the state association last year alleging it conspired to conduct a hostile takeover of SYSA’s soccer program with the help of some longtime SYSA volunteers. The disagreement between SYSA and the state association began when SYSA’s soccer group changed its bylaws to become more independent without notifying SYSA’s board.

Washington Youth Soccer attorney Laurel Siddoway said both sides agreed to this statement:

“Spokane Youth Sports Association and Washington Youth Soccer are happy to report that they have resolved their differences and that the earlier-filed litigation has been dismissed. With almost 70 years of serving youth, both Spokane Youth Sports Association and Washington Youth Soccer enjoy solid reputations in their respective communities and are looking forward to providing soccer programs for the Spokane area youth for years to come.”

The stipulation to dismiss the lawsuit was filed with Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen on Tuesday to be addressed in court as soon as possible.

“I can’t go into further detail right now,” said Philip Helean, executive director of SYSA, on Tuesday. “All I can say is that we have settled our differences with the state association.”

This lawsuit, combined with a grievance filed with the WYS by SYSA against Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association alleging boundary and player recruitment violations, set off a lot of turmoil among soccer clubs in Spokane.

One outcome of the turmoil is that the five Spokane city soccer clubs – the Shadow, Breakers, Sabers, Scotties and Storm FC – that used to belong to SYSA’s soccer group have announced the formation of a new soccer association, the Inland Empire Youth Soccer Association.

Jim Wilson, general manager of the Shadow and a SYSA board member, said Inland Empire Youth Soccer has made its required presentation to WYS’s District 6 members and board, and he expects approval.

“There is a mandatory 60-day waiting period after we make that presentation and then the board and the membership gets to vote,” Wilson explained. “We need a simple majority to be fully incorporated. We’re hoping that will not be a problem.”

If incorporated, IEYS will enter into an agreement with SYSA to operate SYSA’s soccer programs.

Some details still have to be worked out between SYSA and IEYS.

“We will keep the current soccer coordinator and for a period of time we’ll contract back for shared office space,” said Wilson, speaking on behalf of IEYS. “And we’ll pay whatever field costs SYSA accrues on the field it owns when we use it.”

SYSA owns Andrew Rypien Field in Hillyard. The north and south soccer complexes have been maintained and operated by SYSA, but will fall under Spokane Parks and Recreation Department management come July 1.

“We’re just happy to be moving forward,” said Wilson.

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