In the early 1990s, Big Walnut Soccer Association (BWSA) was born out of the passion and dedication of a group of parents who envisioned bringing recreational soccer to their community. Leading this endeavor was Debbie Reckner, who served as the President of the initial Board. The early leadership team included Vice President Vikki Hankus, Treasurer Frank Dantonio, and Secretary Debbie Clum.
After establishing their leadership roles, the BWSA took steps to form committees, delegating responsibilities and individual tasks. Regular meetings convened in the IGA conference room, providing a forum for discussing concerns and sharing progress updates.
Upon discovering that the land surrounding Hylen Souders Elementary, which was owned by the school system, remained undeveloped at the time, this dedicated group approached the school administration. They successfully negotiated a deal to transform the land into playing fields in exchange for its use, which the organization still uses today. Originally, this space had served as farmland, necessitating extensive work to clear rocks, shape the playing surfaces, and construct a shelter house to support their vision.
While countless volunteers have contributed to the growth of BWSA over the years, Vikki and Kevin Hankus were particularly passionate about the game and played pivotal roles as founding members. They played an instrumental part in creating the handbook and laying the foundation for what BWSA would become. Their involvement has continued in various capacities up to the present day. Their 31 years of dedication contributed to why the BWSA has grown so much over the years and help young kids learn the great sport of soccer.
In 1999, Todd Yarrington joined the Board when his youngest child started playing soccer while in kindergarten at Souders. He initially led the Fundraising Committee and later took charge of the Sponsorship Program. In 2007, he assumed the role of President following the departure of the late Jeff Wilson, the former Sunbury Fire Chief.
Under Todd's leadership, the organization developed a website in 2008 and formalized its incorporation in 2009. In 2014, he played a key role in establishing the Dan McKenzie scholarship in memory of a longstanding board member. This scholarship annually awards two (2) $250 scholarships to former BWSA players who are now attending Big Walnut High School that have gained positive attributes and leadership skills while playing for the BWSA .
Tara McClain became a board member in 2010, invited by Yarrington. Despite her self-proclaimed limited knowledge of soccer, she eagerly embraced the opportunity to contribute in any way possible. Over the years, she has become a steadfast board member, taking on various roles and responsibilities such as leading the scholarship program, end of season awards and much more.
Volunteers have been the lifeblood of BWSA, and it remains a heartwarming experience to witness children who once participated in the program returning with their own kids to partake in the organization's mission. As we say thank you to these board members for their years of dedication and contributions to the BWSA, the board is always looking for new members to join the board to continue growing and improving the organization. Board meetings are held the second Sunday of the month at the Sunbury United Methodist Church. If interested please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In the words of Vikki Hankus, as quoted in a newspaper from Fall 1992, "Clearly, the BWSA program is an important and positive aspect in the developing lives of our children." She continues, "The value of our volunteers and support from the community is reflected in the quality and success of the program." Hankus underscores the vital role of donated services in achieving their goals as a non-profit organization and encourages every parent to engage at a level they can. Hankus continues “BWSA extends an open invitation to anyone who is interested in volunteering.” As with any organization that grows as rapidly as ours has, there is always a need for helping hands, whether it’s a one hour job or a seasonal commitment. Our league will only be as strong and as successful as we choose to make it.” These sentiments continue to hold true to this day.
Please join us on Saturday October 28th from 10:00am to 2:00pm to celebrate these great board members and the numerous things they have accomplished over their many years of dedication.