A Bit of History


Let the Games Begin! That’s the traditional phrase that has proclaimed the start of the AYSO National Games since its first venue in Irvine, Calif., in 1988. Those words will start off a week-long celebration that brings together AYSO players, volunteers and parents from across our country. The genesis of the National Games is typically AYSO. It started with a good idea and volunteer power pulled it off!

Watch a video interview of National Games Founder Mike Michalski here. For more AYSO history, visit AYSO’s Historical Timeline.

The Games were the brainchild of Mike Michalski, then Area 10B Director from West Hills, Calif. Michalski had been putting on successful tournaments for California players, coaches, and referees for years. He wanted to share the good times and fun with more players and volunteers. And so he made a proposal that paved the way for the National Games. He gathered together some diligent, dedicated and daring men and women from the volunteer corps and the National Office – a few of them are still involved in AYSO– who would, in the AYSO spirit and tradition, make it happen.

trophyThe Michael Michalski Sportsmanship Trophy made its debut at National Games 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. It is awarded to the National Games team that best exemplifies Good Sportsmanship during the Games, one of AYSO’s long-standing Six Philosophies. Read more about those philosophies here. During the National Games, there are observes at each field that rate the sportsmanship qualities of every team, making the Michalski award an honor representative of voters across all age groups and genders.

The opening ceremony, the soccerfest, the sportsmanship medals – they were all there in 1988. Over the years traditions have been added as each venue wove a bit of its own spirit into the fabric. The National Games is everything AYSO: they reflect the excellence, tradition and spirit of our players, volunteers, spectators and philosophies. Let the Games continue!


A Chronology of the AYSO National Games:

Year Venue Venue Chairperson
1988 Irvine, CA Mike Michalski Founder & Chairperson
1989 Irvine, CA Mike Michalski Founder & Chairperson
1990 Torrance, CA Mike Michalski Founder & Chairperson
1992 Torrance, CA Mike Michalski Founder & Chairperson
1994* World Games
Irvine, CA
Kalamazoo, MI
Oahu, HI
San Jose, CA
Frank Scotto
Gert Jensen
Sheppy Douma
Harry Lee
Gopala Krishnan
World Games Director
Venue Chairperson(s)
1996 Kalamazoo, MI Nancy Hinga Venue Chairperson
1998 Ontario, CA Jodi Gmeiner Venue Chairperson
2000 Albuquerque, NM Kaitlyn McCarthy Venue Chairperson
2001 West Point, NY Irwin Kavy Venue Chairperson
2002 Oahu, HI Max Sword Venue Chairperson
2004 Lancaster, CA Charlie Johnson Venue Chairperson
2006 Chicago, IL David Keller Venue Chairperson
2008 Oahu, HI Alan Heu
Maynard Pang
Venue Co-Chairs
2010 Wellington, FL Wendy Smith
Irwin Kavy
Venue Co-Chairs
2012 Knoxville, TN Dianne Stratton Venue Chairperson

*World Games