NASA is a local not-for-profit organization run by a small staff and dedicated volunteers. Every year, around 2,000 children in Austin, play soccer with our club.
NASA is a local nonprofit organization run by a small staff and dedicated volunteers. Every year, around 2,000 children in Austin play soccer with our club.
In 1981, Martin Cantu incorporated Balcones Youth Soccer with the State of Texas as a tax exempt youth organization. The association fielded teams on a sporadic basis until January of 1990, seldom having more than one team per age bracket, and in many seasons fielding none.
A new board took over operations in 1990 and began looking for ways to make the organization more viable. That board faced the beginning of the season just a few weeks away with a large amount of debt, no cash assets, and no uniforms for the coming season. Dr. Gary Peifer loaned the organization enough money for the purchase of spring uniforms, and with some careful management, the organization made it through the first season with enough profit to pay back the loan and make an early deposit on fall uniforms, securing a discount of approximately 30%.
After the following season, the association was able to order all of its uniforms fully paid in advance, securing about 50% savings. Within a couple of more seasons, the association was able to contract with a Houston-based hockey uniform manufacturer for an even better price on uniforms, and a virtually unlimited number of team configurations.
During this time, the membership of the association grew due to membership campaigns, and the aggressive search for new fields to play on. Eleven new locations were eventually added, and the player rosters grew from about 40 to over 1,800. Balcones Soccer was never part of the Balcones Youth Sports and, in the fall of 1994, it became prudent to change names in order to avoid confusion, and so the Board reincorporated as North Austin Soccer Association. This incorporation held until the reorganized North Austin Soccer Alliance became the first youth sports organization in the United States to successfully file as a 501(c)3 tax deductible charity.
During this time, the association also brought forth a good number of other innovations. Dan Frye and Rick Jacobsen designed a girls Under-Eight (U8) 3-on-3 program to keep our girls playing in-house rather than having to travel 50-70 miles for a Saturday game, since we had few teams. The 3-on-3 format allowed us to field eight teams and play in-house. At the end of the first season, it became apparent that the small side format had greatly improved the player’s skills and understanding of the game, and so in the next few seasons, all the younger ages were converted to the small-side format.
The Balcones organization depended on a few volunteer referees and, more often, parents drafted moments before the start of the game to officiate. Early on, the NASA board made the decision to institute a referee training program to certify adults, and, more importantly, to bring up referees from the players’ ranks. Young players were paid for their services and reimbursed for their training and registration. In time, our referees often were able to officiate for other associations.
A similar program was instituted for the training of coaches. In the early days of Balcones, a parent admonished his child to “pick the ball up and run with it.” Asked if he’d ever seen a soccer game, he said he thought he had recently seen one on television. As he described it, he had seen a few minutes of rugby. Unfortunately, many of the parents weren’t much more knowledgeable than he was.
Because of our conversion to small-sided teams, each of the young players were much more involved in actual play, with more touches on the ball and much simpler strategies. Novice coaches were not under pressure to become instant authorities on the ‘off-side trap’ or the ‘Swiss Bolt’ in order to effectively guide their U6 through U10 teams. Coaches became more available as the intimidation factor was reduced and became more successful at cultivating player talent and enjoyment of the game.
As the association grew, the work load on a few of the key parent volunteers prompted the Board to provide compensation for the unreasonable number of hours and the inflexible schedules required of certain positions. These positions involve a General Manager, Referee Scheduler, and a Coaching Director. In December 2019, in order to more effectively serve our families, NASA hired a full-time Executive Director.
One more innovation instituted by NASA was a small-sided recreational adult program geared toward parents and coaches of our players. Unlike other adult programs featuring 11-a-side standard competition, our program featured rules designed to protect players from overly aggressive play and novice type accidental injuries. The more relaxed attitude provided a very enjoyable social outlet for a Sunday afternoon for many of our members, and the opportunity for some of our young players to coach their parents from the side.
Over the years, our Bylaws, Constitution, and Articles of Incorporation have been made freely available through CAYSA and STYSA for use by others wishing to establish similar associations. Our documents were never copied from other sources, but were instead developed over the years from the experience of seeing what worked. NASA owes its successes to parents who knew very little of the traditional organizational structures and methods of soccer, but who excelled at the American ethic of inventing something to fix a problem. It worked well and taught us to always be open to suggestions.