A Soccer Mom Who Runs a League of 4,000

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By John Friia Dana DiPrima wears many hats; she is a mother, a wife and the commissioner of the West Side Soccer League since 2005. As the commissioner, she oversees the league, which has over 4,000 neighborhood youths ranging from 5 to 18 years old. There are nearly 400 teams, with 800 coaches and 500 referees. In addition to learning how to play soccer, the league offers numerous programs to benefit the children's experience. "We get to practice and use the fields in Riverside Park, Central Park, Randall's Island and other fields," DiPrima said. Some programs include training from professional coaches and the opportunity to see the New York Red Bulls. With the belief that everyone deserves a chance to learn soccer, the league offers assistance to families that have financial difficulties. "Around 25 percent of the members have scholarships, paying $10," said DiPrima. She explained that "to learn soccer, you have to play soccer," so the league tries to make sure that everyone participates to the same extent. Any time there is an issue, such as unfair game time, she explained that people come to her to have the problem solved. It shows how the league and parents want everyone to have the same advantages, and that the WSSL is serious about educating the youths. The league also gives back to the community. "We leave the nets and goals in the park for the public to use, when we are not using them," she said. Soccer has always been one of DiPrima's favorite sports. She started playing as a child and continued through college. "It normally brings the best of people," she explained. DiPrima, 45, said she enjoys the great people she has met-from CEOs to the unemployed, they all share a common thing, their love for soccer. Not only is the WSSL a great opportunity for children, but it also gives adults who are passionate about soccer a chance to volunteer as referees and coach teams. DiPrima explained that many of the parents remain active in the league even after their children leave. Her daughter, 11, is still a part of the West Side Soccer League, and has just returned from the WSSL Red Bulls Travel Team. Children on the travel team compete with other travel teams in the area and are coached by New York Red Bulls trainers. It may seem a little intimidating juggling all the duties of a mom (she also has a son, 14), wife and the commissioner of the WSSL, but DiPrima explained that her family is very understanding, and if there is issue that needs her attention, her husband or children will let her know. "I love New York. I love the Upper West Side and I love West Side Soccer. I am very honored and this award recognizes everyone else that is involved, working together towards the same goal," stated a grateful DiPrima.

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