Former WAGS president urges members to question NCSL merger
WASHINGTON — A prominent figure has stood up in strong opposition to the recently-announced plan to merge the Washington Area Girls Soccer League and the National Capital Soccer League.
Longtime WAGS president Kathie Diapoulis, who led the league for the better part of two decades up until her resignation last year, contacted a long list of member clubs over the weekend to express doubts and concerns about the merger with NCSL, a development first reported by SoccerWire.com.
While emphasizing that she has no desire to return to the league in any formal capacity, Diapoulis voiced her strong opposition to what she calls “throwing in the towel” on the part of the current leadership, and posed some probing questions about the current scenario.
Sources tell SoccerWire that Diapoulis plans to attend Monday night’s WAGS membership meeting in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia to voice her concerns in person if given the opportunity.
Below is the full text of her e-mail to WAGS club representatives, a copy of which was obtained by SoccerWire staff.
Dear WAGS Members,
For those of you who do not recognize my name, I was the president of WAGS from December 1997- July 2014. During the spring of 2014, I was asked by Sally D’Italia if I would consider taking the job of Executive Director. After much thought, I agreed. I tendered my resignation on May 7, 2015, after ten months. It was the right decision for me.
My reason for this email is the Special Meeting called for to discuss and “ratify” the decision by the Board of Directors to “merge” with NCSL. I believe that this would be a personal affront to the founders of WAGS in so many ways. The membership of WAGS has a separate identity, which is immediately evident when you review the bylaws and rules. The decision [of] lumping both leagues into one organization does not seem to benefit the players of WAGS in any way. Being the biggest is not so impressive when it doesn’t permit you to concentrate on the specific needs/desires of your membership.
A little history…. some 40 years ago, young women wished to play at a higher competitive level. A few determined women petitioned the local boys travel league, NCSL, asking permission to play in the league. The answer was a resounding NO. That was the birth of the Washington Area Girls Soccer League. This organization serves female soccer players from across the metropolitan area and beyond, that want to improve the level of their game. WAGS runs a hugely successful tournament that allows it to remain financially solvent and provide funding for enrichment programs for its members. Even with other leagues springing up, WAGS currently serves almost 500 teams. It is a viable, financially solvent organization. What is it that would cause the current Board of Directors to decide to throw in the towel and hand the league over to NCSL? Because let’s face it, this is not a merger. It is an acquisition. All players will be registered as NCSL players. They will abide by NCSL rules and NCSL bylaws. They will pay into NCSL coffers. WAGS, as a league, will have 40 years of history flushed away…by the same league that refused to allow girls to play all those many years ago. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem ethical.
According to a letter sent to NCSL members, this project has been in the works for the past year. If that is the case, why did the WAGS Club Reps not hear about it until 14 days before the “Special Meeting”? Why does the membership not get an active voice in this decision and the process leading up to it?
Some other questions that you should ask before allowing a vote to be tallied:
* Why didn’t you allow us to participate in such a major decision?
* What will happen to the $1.6 million set aside for WAGS membership?
* If we choose not to ratify your action to turn WAGS into a “foundation,” what will you do moving forward?
* Please share with us the reasons that you feel this radical decision is necessary?
* Did all Board members vote to approve? If not, what was the count?
* Are there minutes from previous meetings regarding these actions? If they were discussed in an executive session, please provide us with the summary of actions taken.
* We already share fields, scheduling systems and referees. If this is an attempt to club schedule as a whole, why can’t we accomplish it through the same systems?
* Why the rush? Why can’t we be part of the process and decide over the course of the next year if this is the right decision for the league?
* What voice, if any, will WAGS have in policies and bylaw changes at the state level?
* Will coaches and managers be able to contact the league office when they have a question or concern, or will only the club rep be permitted to contact an administrator?
Please know that I am sending this to you only because I care very deeply for the league and do not believe that this current plan will be beneficial to the WAGS membership. I have no intention of re-entering WAGS as either a volunteer or employee. I just can’t imagine not at least trying to make sure that this important monument is not washed away with no good reason….and no input from the members.
I am hoping that this letter gave each of you some food for thought and that you will think long and hard before the ratification of this “merger.”
With that said, I have, and will continue to have, only best wishes for WAGS success.
Yours in soccer,