A Page -- March 22, 2011

Alpha Phi Alpha, inner-city futsal/soccer team at Akron Sports Center

Otto Orf's HandsOnSoccer develops 

inner-city programs for Akron and 

Cleveland, and high school summer team 

training opportunities 

 March 22, 2011

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor


While soccer (internationally known in most other English-speaking countries as “football” or “futbol”) in its growth stages on a world scale well over 100 years ago spread all over the socio-economic spectrum from the castles of England to the dirt floors Pele` slept on outside his FC Santos Brazilian youth organization building while waiting for his chance, the sport’s eventual U.S. growth in rapid form in the 1970s and ‘80s took place chiefly in the American suburbs.

Still mainly a suburban sport here Stateside, soccer has begun making its inroads into the inner city. Thanks to Otto Orf, his 501c3 HandsOnSports Foundation, and his non-profit HandsOnSoccer youth school, this growth of soccer in the inner cities of Cleveland, Akron and other industrial areas here is now moving along at a relatively fast rate.

Otto Orf getting interviewed at a press briefing in Akron Sports Center

Orf, the goalie for the multiple-year world champion Cleveland Crunch in the 1990s, has been running summer camps for northeastern Ohio youth over the past 21 years and has extended that to inner city clubs such as the Cleveland Police Athletic League, Cleveland Municipal School District, Sam’s Kids Inner Circle (run by coach and psychologist Sam Rutigliano) and Alpha Phi Alpha, an Akron inner city youth organization.

Akron's Alpha Phi Alpha Futsal team

In addition to the 27 general soccer camps HOS and Orf is running this summer, high school team camps will also be a secondary focus, in which Orf plans to take two high school teams each week over the summer and train them as a unit.

The timing of the high school team program and the expansion into the inner city for the younger Student/Athletes couldn’t have been any better for HandsOnSoccer.

Why soccer took off in the suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s and did not really at the same time in the cities is still a mystery. It is a relatively inexpensive sport (just a ball and shoes, really no different than basketball, the dominant inner city sport for decades) and it involves S/As of all sexes, sizes and skill levels.

When soccer transformed from an “ethnic” sport (the Greek Club vs. The German Club, the Irish American Club vs. Little Italy, etc) in the pre-‘70s days of soccer in the U.S. to a high school sport, it was the suburban schools like North Olmsted, North Royalton, Bay, Jackson, Medina, Rocky River, Mentor, Cleveland Heights, etc. that dominated the sport and made it to state tournaments and won state championships. No movement emanated from the inner cities

Most within the city limits did not have teams and even to this day, schools in the Cleveland Senate Athletic Conference and Akron City Series still struggle and in several cases still have co-ed teams and no JV, freshman or middle school units.

Such was soccer in the early days of the high school game in the late 1960s and 1970s when a given school board would approve the formation of a team and all an athletic director had to do to fill the coaching position was simply go out and find someone with a foreign accent, whether he knew anything about soccer or not. Even in the suburbs then, soccer was just something athletic departments put up with, letting it “just pass” and the guy with the broken English would get them through the season just fine while they attended to more “important” things like American football.

Yes, there were the exceptions among the high school coaching ranks back then like the Tom Hatfields, the Pat Gilespies, the Tobey Cooks, the Les Szabos, and the Jim Tymas of the world, but they were few and far between; the norm was the guy with a foreign accent who might have played a pick-up game or two in his lifetime.

Doubters charged that soccer would never grow in the U.S, but what those that rely on off-the-cuff commentary and bar-stool talk as their primary knowledge base instead of rigorous analysis did not consider was that eventually more American youth would be playing soccer than football, baseball and basketball put together and that all these youth would one day become adults and certainly catch the coaching bug along the way.

Watch a few short videos of the Green-Alpha Phi Alpha futsal match, filmed by Norm, by clicking and downloading:

All it were to take was the persistence in developing a unique American style while still borrowing the better concepts from other lands and get in the high school coaching ranks what US college soccer already had in legendary coaches Jerry Yeagley, Sigi Schmid and Anson Dorrance -- Americans who molded champion teams by relating to American Student/Athletes in their own English language  -- a soccer lesson they could better understand.

This was why in the 1980s club soccer groups such as Solon’s/Aurora’s East-West Ambassadors, St. Louis’ Scott Gallagher and San Diego’s LoJolla Nomads were 1,000 cuts above their contemporaries at the time. They traveled the world to gain valuable competition and mental notes on the gamut of world-encompassing styles, OK, but at the same time placed young Americans into more responsible team leadership roles so that one day there would be an entire army of American soccer adults “giving back” to the generations that followed them.

Local coaching examples of the fruition of this impasse include St. Ignatius' Mike McLaughlin, Strongsville's Jon Felton, Avon's Chris Dore`, St. Edward's Tony Dore`, and Western Reserve Academy's Herbie Haller, Jr., to name only a few.

A native of Upstate New York, Orf is also one of those. Although he never played the sport until he was 16, Orf has taken the concept that worked for him -- learning the game fast, fast enough to quickly become a world-class player, a professional and world champion, -- and applied/transferred that concept to today’s American youth in general, and more specifically now to the inner-city youth and most recently in group form to high school teams all over Greater Cleveland.

Also, Orf has maintained the international flavor of the sport, as next week he will make his third annual trip to Costa Rica and will be delivering 500 pairs of shoes donated by area youth along with other supplies.

Saturday at his Akron facility, Orf was given a big send off as 100 youth soccer players gathered to celebrate his departure. Along with that, they played the game of Futsal, a 5-on-5 (and sometimes 3 on 3) version of soccer than enables each player on the field to get more touches on the ball and keeps him active mentally and physically on the field.

“We wanted to take soccer to the inner city and futsal is a perfect fit for that,” Orf said. “Once the Student/Athletes can see the trickery and the showmanship that can be had in the futsal version, it will stick to them like a magnet.”

Green's Futsal team warms up before the match

A club from Green (in the Hartville and Uniontown areas of Akron) wound up playing Michael and LeRoy Vincent’s Alpha Phi Alpha in the Akron Sports Center to get the futsal season going for the spring.

LeRoy Vincent (gray top) and Don Fergusson (black top)

“We want to see more soccer in the inner city,” said Don Fergusson, who grew up down the street in the inner city and played high school ball at Akron Garfield and helps Alpha Phi Alpha on the financing end. “A lot of times we don’t think much of the cost involved in soccer; someone’s parents just write the checks and off they go. It is not as easy in the inner city, so we try to package it so that they can get the funding and alleviate some of that burden. It is good that Alpha Phi Alpha has such a community service component.”

Alpha Phi Alpha is a regular college fraternity, an All-Black club, similar to the Lambda Lambda Lambda frat Bernie Casey presided over in the Revenge of the Nerds movies, and one that thinks enough of soccer to back it to the point of helping it gain a strong presence in the inner city.






by Nick Minerd

PITTSFORD, NY – Case Western Reserve University sophomore pitcher Jamie Hora (Twinsburg, OH/Twinsburg) was named University Athletic Association Pitcher of the Week on Monday, March 21. The award comes just two days after Hora tossed a complete-game two-hitter to lead the Spartans to a 6-0 victory versus Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday.

In seven shutout innings against the Battling Bishops, Hora allowed just a pair of hits and two walks while striking out three.

Hora improved his record to 2-2 for the season and has now thrown two of the Spartans’ four complete games this spring. The Twinsburg-native also leads the Spartans with 27.1 innings pitched and ranks second on the team in appearances (5) and strikeouts (17).

The Spartans, now 13-6 overall, have won seven of their past eight and will play another doubleheader on the road tomorrow (Tuesday, March 22) against Grove City College (PA) at 2:00 p.m.

Twelve days still remain to sign up for HOS summer 

soccer camps with $25 discount

Still 12 days remain to get in on the early bird special and $25 discount to register for one of the 29 HandsOnSoccer summer camps all over Northeastern Ohio that begin in June.

 One must register online to get the $25 discount. The place to do that is www.handsonsoccer.com.

 There are also special earning opportunities for those who have participated in HOS camps in past summer seasons, cash value credit that could be counted toward the registration, merchandise, apparel or gear.

St. Ed goalie and HOS Student/Coach Toby Frohlich

 HOS camps tie together all three realms of the Student/Athlete domain: youth (as participants), high school (participants and helpers), and college (as Student/Coaches and camp counselors).

Former CVCA S/A and HOS Student/Coach Ryan Cook

Otto Orf, HOS director, along with his Assistant Director Rick Holland (who is from England, not Holland), are also offering team camps for full high school teams this summer.

Lewis Tabbed NCAC Player of the Week
Story Reported by Mike Mancini
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3/21/2011 7:19:42 PM
Westlake – Oberlin College junior Ariel Lewis was named as the North Coast Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week, the league office announced on Monday evening.

Lewis, a native of Vacaville, California, was a perfect 4-0 on Saturday, which included a singles win against the region’s sixth-best player – Erika Lim of Case Western Reserve. Lewis disposed of Lim in straight sets. After blanking her in the first set 6-0, she battled for a 7-6 (7-2) victory. 

Against John Carroll she made short work of Cassie Simmerlink at No. 2 singles, winning both sets by a 6-1 score line. 

She partnered with Brenna Sheldon in doubles play to defeat the No. 1 pairing of JCU 8-1 and the No. 2 tandem of Case Western 8-2. With the four wins she is now just two victories away from 100 combined victories. She has 59 singles wins and 39 doubles wins in her impressive career. 

The POW honor is the first of Lewis’ career and first ever for the Yeowomen as the conference office just started bestowing the honor last season. 

Lewis and the rest of the Yeowomen will be heading west for spring break for matches in her home state