Longtime NCSL prez Ray Greenberg steps down to focus on MSYSA duties
By Charles Boehm
After more than two decades of service to the organization, including an eight-year stint as president, Ray Greenberg has stepped away from the National Capital Soccer League in order to focus his energies on his new position as the head of the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association.
He will be succeeded by Richard Smith, an attorney with ties to the Alexandria Soccer Association who has spent the past year as NCSL vice president.
“I’ve been with the NCSL 21 years, the last eight as president, and last June I was elected president of [MSYSA],” explained Greenberg in a phone conversation with The Soccer Wire this week. “I served out my tenure at NCSL and decided not to seek re-election because it’s too much of a load. Being MSYSA president keeps me very busy and I’ve decided to retire from NCSL and pass the baton.”
Having just returned from the U.S. Youth Soccer Region I championships in Lancaster, Pa., Greenberg generously shared a few thoughts with TSW about his time with NCSL, a boys’ youth league with member clubs throughout the greater Washington, D.C. region.
“I was a bit sad to go and retire, but the organization has made great strides,” he said. “When I first joined the league, we used to send out game [schedule] changes in the snail mail, if you can imagine! If a game change didn’t get in by Wednesday, we couldn’t get it in the mail on time.
“So I think a lot has changed in the soccer community, with the [U.S. Soccer Development] Academy and the [Region I] Premier [League] and the Colonial League growing. It’s had an impact on the league, but the league has stayed, and grown quite a bit.”
Greenberg admits that the influx of those elite national and regional competitions may have drawn away some of the NCSL’s top-tier talent, though he points to continued demand for NCSL slots, as well as the ongoing growth of the game itself, as reasons for optimism about the future.
“I think the league has stayed very steadfast in its principle of competition,” he said. “The competition may have decreased a little bit with teams and players going on to the Academy, and a couple of other [leagues]…But we’re still over 600 teams strong and I think there’s still room to grow. Soccer continues to grow in the D.C. metropolitan area and we seem to always have new clubs wanting to apply and get in.”
He faces no shortage of pressing tasks as he turns his full attention to MSYSA. The association is in need of a new State Cup director – and a new site for the final stages of the tournament, with frustration from the last edition’s location, Carsins Run Park in Churchville, Md., still fresh in the minds of Greenberg and many others.
“It’s been a lot bigger job than I maybe would’ve guessed,” he said. “If you compare it, the NCSL may have 10,000 players – the MSYSA has 67,000 players. As you get more players and more activities, the number of issues that need resolution increases.
“We’re struggling with State Cup – it’s very successful, but the venue where we held it that first weekend [Carsins Run] was not good. We had to move games off of the fields up in Harford County, so that’s a challenge…I want to put on a quality State Cup event, and I have to find a State Cup director. [Arlene Rodway] did it for a very long time, she was very good at it, but she stepped down. It’s hard to replace a very good volunteer.”
Greenberg also notes promising achievements in other areas of MSYSA, including improvements to the player registration process, popular new Olympic Development Program initiatives and the success of Maryland teams in Region I play this week.
“We had nine teams in the semifinals, six made it to the finals, and three won, which is a compliment to the level of soccer and dedication within Maryland,” he noted. “So I was very proud of our teams at regionals.”