No more oranges at halftime, parents lined up on the sidelines to make a tunnel after the game and banners with amusing names like the "Kotton Kandy Kickers" and "The Mean Green Kicking Machine".
Tehachapi’s largest youth sports organization is in trouble.
That is according to America Youth Soccer Organization Region 79 commissioner John Buckley, who says if the league cannot bolster its current number of volunteers; it may be forced to downsize or even shut down prior to the start of the 2013 season, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 27.
"Thinking that the region is suffering really hurts me," Buckley said."We have all put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears over the years."
But the league needs new blood, as this March will mark the end of Buckley's nine-year run as the region's commissioner, and with his three boys having swapped soccer balls for footballs three years ago, he has decided to not pursue a fourth term.
And even though he has found his successor Desiree Whatmough. Buckley says many of the region's remaining board members and its handful of helpers, still need help.
"People sometimes just don't realize how many volunteers it takes to run an organization that caters to hundreds of young athletes," says the dedicated commissioner who even pulls restroom duty during game days.
"Ordering uniforms and equipment, scheduling pictures and maintaining fields; it's a year-round job and it takes a lot of time.""
Plunger in hand, Buckley has been responsible for providing the thousands of children, many who have come back to AYSO now as adults with children of their own, with a place where Tehachapi's youth learn skills from sports that eventually translate to skills later in life.
It was just 13 years after the region's days of playing on the converted baseball fields at West Park that the number of players swelled with each passing year, eventually topping 1,000 by the time the league began playing at the Benz Youth Sports and Cultural Park off Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road in 2000.
However, the current number of players has dwindled to 550 this past season, which Buckley says is in direct relation to the declining number of adult volunteers.
"When you have 70 teams, you need 70 coaches, 70 assistant coaches, and 70 team moms," he said. "That’s just the start, and we just aren't getting the people to fill those positions."
Like most organized youth athletic programs that rely on its volunteers, when that happens, sometimes players are sidelined without a team.
A tragedy when allowed to happen, denies Tehachapi's future soccer stars an opportunity to sculpt their skills at becoming America's next Landon Donovan, or Julie Foudy, who are just two examples of AYSO's famous alumni.
How to get involved
The current board is accepting applications, and is need of volunteers to help in all positions.
"The more people that help, the smaller the jobs," Buckley said. "If people are interested in being part of this great organization they can just stop any board member and ask 'how can I help?'"
But time is ticking, and Buckley says the region needs to find volunteers.
"I fell in love with this," he said. "I never looked at it as ever having just three of my own kids out on the field.”
"I had 550."
If you are interested in volunteering please visit www.ayso479.org or call (949)-AYSO-479.