TFA's 2020 Hall of Fame and Awards

TFA'S HALL OF FAME - ELAINE STEAD

For me, a great organization, like TFA runs efficiently and effectively no matter come rain or shine, sickness or vacation, highs and lows. The ship, or for me a bicycle remains not only upright, but moving in the right direction; forward. This can take years to achieve. You can have the best vision, mission and values, but if they are not reiterated on a daily basis to create the culture needed, it makes the cycle somewhat wobbly. TFA has had some wobbles, just like many other clubs and businesses experience. We have had tough times and failed; without this you will never find out what's needed to make you succeed. Through all of these wobbles you not only need clear leadership, but for me and just as importantly you need people who support and believe in the cause. They need to execute and take responsibility when the stewardship is sick, or, going through open heart surgery! Well, throughout all my TFA wobbles and I've had a few, believe me, I have relied upon one person in particular. One person who has been with me every day, through up and downs, through sickness, through vulnerability, through my years of clutter in which I felt I wasn't leading, through honesty in their opinion and ethics, through knowing many things I don't have a clue about, i.e. registering a player, or team for a league or a tournament, through working into the early hours during tryout week, through sending me information while I'm out the office and out of office hours, through making me look good when I have forgotten details, through making TFA run smoothly, effectively and efficiently. I could go on. For me, Elaine is like a Hallmark card; when one event is wrapped up, she's moving onto the next deadline, similar to moving from Easter to 4th of July. And, all of this seamlessly and with absolutely no fuss.

Elaine, please come up.

Not many people see Elaine in action, that's a testament to her abilities. She's like a swan, gliding on the surface in front of everyone, while all the frantic leg work has been done prior. Whether its organizing her first purse bingo to running our phenomenal TOPSoccer program. All of these additional projects on top of maintaining 200 plus soccer players being able to officially kick that little thing around. Please think about this. Over her time at TFA, I'd guestimate 2000 plus players have been registered by Elaine, thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms booked, hundreds of tournament registrations, again, thousands of league entries. Deadlines that are not met, mean our soccer players do not have the joy of playing the sport and for the TFA badge, all of these have deadlines that need to be met 100% of the time. If Elaine misses, we all miss! I do not recall ever asking Elaine about deadlines for any of these, why? I don't need too, she's that good!

Let's go back to TOPSoccer, as I know this program is her baby. The joy on her face when Toledo's TOPSoccer program is mentioned is priceless. The love and passion she has for this makes our program one of the best, if not the best in North Ohio. I had seen a presentation on TOPSoccer at a coaching convention several years ago, as with anyone involved in our program I connected emotionally. One of my aunts in England had down syndrome and at the time was one of the eldest females to live with downs. I remember sitting there and thinking what my aunt could have experienced if a program like this existed. The opportunity to enjoy what so many others can. I came back to Toledo and sat down with Elaine and explained this is what I would like to do. 5 years later, look around and see what Elaine has successfully built and achieved. Well over 100 TOPSoccer athletes have come through our doors and this is all down to her overseeing this, all of this outside of her TFA time. Why? Ask her. See that smile and see the expression on her face when she discusses TOPSoccer, it's well worth it, believe me. I surround myself with passionate people, I'm surrounded by them nearly every day. This is one of the many reasons, I have Elaine beside me.

Elaine, I cannot fully explain what you mean to me and to TFA. You are loved for what you do and how you represent it… by everyone.

E, it's with huge gratitude and enormous pleasure to introduce you as TFA's fifth Hall of Fame inductee, congratulations and a huge, huge round of applause please.

OUTSTANDING DEDICATION TO TFA - DAVID WILLIAMS

Over the past 14 years of TFA, I have had various individuals approach me regarding TFA's future. Within these discussions I have listened to many ideas and thoughts on pushing TFA forward. When this one individual approached me, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did he come to the table with an idea, he presented this to me in a PowerPoint, along with supplying me with a notepad and pen!

David Williams is the reason Schneider Fields looks as good as it does today. For me, this one line says it all about this individual. His dedication in leaving a place better than finding it is simply honorable. David, you remind me of my fast-forward setting on my phone, but for you this is just another normal day. Seriously, I sincerely appreciate the time and the effort you put into the fields. I, along with many others are finally proud to call Schneider home. And, this is simply down to you.

It gives me great pleasure to present David with the Outstanding Dedication to TFA Award. Thank you for everything and long continue your cutting skills! A round of applause please.

TFA'S TOPSOCCER TEAMMATE OF THE YEAR - OWEN TRAVER

About 6 years ago I was charged with the task of starting a TOPSoccer program for TFA. The fact that I had no idea what TOPSoccer even was should be an indication of how out of my depth I was. That began a crazy period of conversations, meetings and research to figure out what was needed and reflection on how to turn those needs into a reality. What began with just three participants and about twice as many volunteers has grown into a program that I am wildly proud of.

But . . . this program would not be possible, no matter how much organization, planning and pride I put into it, without our volunteers. Yes, what I do puts the program on the ground, but it is the volunteers that make it fly. It is the volunteers who forge relationships with our participants, who work alongside them at every Soccer Sunday, whose smiles and high fives give constant encouragement and whose willingness to give of themselves make an incredible impact to our amazing participants.

Tonight, we would like to recognize one such volunteer. Owen Traver. While there are many wonderful things I can say about Owen, I would like to instead share something from the Mom of one of our TOPSoccer participants.

Our daughter Zoe became a participant with our area's TOPSoccer program in its inaugural year in 2015 at the age of 11 in the 5th grade. She was paired up with an 8th grade TFA soccer player named Owen for no other reason than he was next in line to be a buddy! Volunteering is important to Owen and his family, he made attending each TOPSoccer session a priority and we are so grateful. Zoe has cognitive impairments with a memory deficit, so seeing the same buddy each week was very valuable. Owen was that buddy who didn't just attend - he Showed-Up each time for Zoe! Excitement, Enthusiasm, Energy, Involvement this is an amazing kid! Into our second year with TOPSoccer and Owen, we experienced a breakthrough with Zoe, and it was awesome… I sent the following text to Owens mom:

"Cutest thing this Sunday morning & I wanted to share! Zoe asked if she had school today. I said no but you have soccer. She said: Owen? I'm just going to tell you how absolutely AMAZING that is!!! She has such a deficit in her short-term memory & for her to recall Owen's name AND associate him with Soccer is shy of miraculous! We pray all the time for her development to continue to progress & not plateau & that her improvements be shown to us! This was one of those amazing moments and it's your SON!!

This year's TOPSoccer Teammate of the year, Owen Traver.