Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Everyone knows that it takes radical thinking and dissatisfaction with the status quo to get things done in life. Look at the way this country was founded. The music of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Beatles invading the country — for more modern upheaval look at Apple and the iPhone.
Back in May 1980, it took five individuals — who were unhappy with the soccer that was being played — to come together and form what we have now in the Roswell Youth Soccer Association. The league began to play in September 1980, with Don Determan as President.
In the spring of 1983, a total of 539 players participated on 37 teams, with the fields at Del Norte having expanded to four. As a culmination to the 1983 fall program, a soccer ball and dedication plaque were erected as a tribute to the RYSA founders on the west side of the soccer fields by the Soccer Association. City officials, as well as NMMI President, General Generals Childress, participated in a ceremony they dedicating the field to Russ DeKay.
These four men and one woman, Don Determan, Harley Daniel, Joyce Ware, Russ De Kay and Raymond Naranjo came together and gave of themselves and their finances unselfishly to create a better life for their kids and the youth of the community that would forever change the way soccer was played in Roswell. By starting the league, these individuals would be given land to play on, hire referees, force soccer into the middle and high schools for boys and girls (1985) and provide opportunities for kids to go to college on scholarships and earn degrees to support themselves and families.
For years there was an unhappiness about the way the YMCA was handling the way soccer was played. When it came to signing up players, they would charge the kids $20 to sign up, which was a lot of money in the 1970s. The only thing the kids would get for their money was a YMCA T-shirt.
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There were times when kids would show up and have to wait for over an hour to play their games; other times the league would have referees and sometimes not. The YMCA only had one or two fields to play on at the time.
Parents and kids were frustrated with the way the league was run. What’s worse was there was no upkeep of the fields. The final straw was that at the end of the season there was no recognition of the kids who had participated in the league. No awards, trophies or banquets. The season was just over, and each player went their own way.
RDR sports tracked down the founding members of the Roswell Youth Soccer Association and talked to them. Some of the members are deceased so Record Sports talked to their spouse or children. The events are recalled to the best of their recollection how Roswell Youth Soccer Association and all that went with it began.
Joyce Ware was the secretary when they started the league. She also distributed the uniforms and worked the concession stands.
“She (Ware) was instrumental in the whole thing,” Daniel said.
Ware moved with her family back to Roswell from Texas. She never missed a game whether her children were playing or not. All her four children — Jason, Jared, Joel, and Traci —played in the league, as well.
Daughter, Traci (Ware) Fairfield recalls how the league had reversible uniforms and sometimes it wasn’t known what color the team would be until right before game time.
“There wasn’t much here for little kids when we got over here,” Fairfield said. “We were three, five, six and eight when we got over here from Texas. My mother was a big component in the community, and really went after the youth to get everyone involved, but she never wanted to be recognized.”
Ware so loved Roswell that she was involved in other community-related events. She was on the board of the Historical Society and the UFO Museum and also had her own business as a CPA. Ms. Ware passed away in 2017.
“I think my mom would like for the youth to continue the legacy,” son Joel Ware said. “To really get involved in whatever it is they desire, just get involved.”
Harley Daniel was the equipment manager when he became involved with the league with his best friend Raymond Naranjo. Both lived across the street together and went hunting and fishing together. Daniel worked for the league for two years before moving to Texas to open his own business. He worked with Determan and Naranjo on the raffle to get uniforms for the kids. Daniel remembers that at the time, there was a car dealer in town whose son wanted to play soccer with the league.
The dealer gave the soccer league a motor scooter to raffle off. Daniel recalls that they raised $15,000 because everyone was buying tickets for a chance to win the scooter. Tickets were so cheap that they were only $1.
“We made so much money,” Daniel said, “that it put us in the black and allowed us to charge the kids $10 to sign up instead of the $20 they were paying to the YMCA. We ended up with enough money to buy the goals, pay for the uniforms and to pay the referees with that raffle.”
Daniel also was in charge of the city baseball fields. At the time he had the city help him fix up the field. Daniel was the president of Little League baseball and felt like he had the worst Little League in the state when he took over. The second year after he took over, he had the state playoffs in Roswell — something Roswell never had before. New Mexico Military Institute gave the fields to the soccer organization, the soccer club had the goals made.
“What we did it for was the kids,” Daniel said. “What impressed me was that we started with 200 kids, and by the time I left, we had over 800 kids. Our games started at 8 a.m. and would be over with by 2 p.m.”
Daniel went into business for himself as an independent insurance adjuster and moved to Lubbock, Texas.
Raymond Naranjo coached all three of his sons in the league — Chris, Mark, and Shawn. Naranjo was the field manager at the beginning. Shawn said he remembers in the group that (Determan, DeKay, Ware, Naranjo, and Daniel), was fed up with the YMCA and the way they were running the soccer program.
The YMCA had one field and it took all day to play games and they were always short referees.
“I feel like it was a big part of why they started the league,” Shawn said. “They were upset that the kids didn’t get any recognition, and they felt like the kids should get something out of it. So they decided to start their own league.”
Shawn recalls that the first two seasons of the league, the games were played in the park behind Del Norte while they were getting stuff set up to play at DeKay Field across from the Wool Bowl. Naranjo, who owned a construction company, got some of his workers to build the forms for the ball and got the concrete company to donate the concrete for the soccer ball.
“It did have a big impact on Roswell,” Shawn stated. “It got a lot more kids involved than before. I think that has translated into having soccer in schools now.”
Russ DeKay and his wife, Lois, moved here from upstate New York after he retired from the federal government. He loved soccer and played it in high school. His first dream was to become a high school coach. DeKay also had a lot of other interests, such as woodworking.
Don Determan was the president of the Roswell Youth Soccer Association when it started. Determan recalls meeting DeKay at the YMCA as coaches. Both talked about forming and didn’t know how to go about forming a league.
Determan and DeKay got the idea to use the field at NMMI because it was barren. NMMI had plans to put in a track and field there. Both men talked with the commandant of the Institute in the summer.
“The soccer ball that is over there is an old propane tank,” Determan said. “We found that at a scrap yard. Russ noticed it and called me — we got them to donate it. The Institute painted it for us. Raymond (Naranjo) construction company built the frame. We talked to the Institute (to see) if they wanted to name the field, they told us no. It was up to Russ (DeKay) and I. I told them I didn’t want it and to go ahead and name it after him. That’s how it became DeKay Field. Russ worked tirelessly.”
Determan remembers in their first year that they signed up 300 kids and in the second year the number of kids doubled. He felt it was time for Roswell to get a youth league. Everywhere else in the state had youth soccer. In year four, they had 1,100 kids playing soccer. In the beginning, they used four fields and used Del Norte Middle School, until they could get DeKay Field going. It took them three years to get going. Once DeKay Field was going, they could play seven games at one time.
Determan started a training program for referees and got them certified through FIAA. He also started coaching clinics for the parents and that is how they got the coaches.
“Originally we just wanted the kids to have fun,” Determan said, “and get acknowledged for it at the end of the season. It just didn’t seem appropriate that at the end of the final game, everybody just went home. We felt like we could do it better. The one rule everyone agreed on was that everyone would play half of every game unless they were being disciplined for something.”
Determan stayed active in the league for 15 years.
“Initially, we were all involved to help the kids. I’m most proud that sometimes I’ll be sitting in a group and someone will say, ‘I saw the ball and Don Determan is listed on the ball as one of the founders. Is that you?’ I’m very proud of the fact that we all put in so much time and energy and when you look back on it, the number of kids that have come through the program and the lives we have touched.”
“The five people got together at the library one night,” Lois DeKay said. “They decided on their own to establish a soccer league. They (Naranjo, Detterman, Daniel, Ware, and DeKay) put up their own money to buy 200 uniforms hoping to attract that many kids. It got bigger and bigger. It grew from the beginning, in 1983 they named the field after him.”
DeKay was the vice president and took the pictures and also got a Coke truck for the concession stands. He helped mark the fields. DeKay received help from Fred McDonald as he helped get soccer established in high schools. The high school hosted soccer tournaments as well. DeKay was also a volunteer in the community, volunteering for the Lions, RSVP, Elks, and others until he passed away.
“He did not do it alone,” Lois DeKay said. “He (Russ) received a lot of help from other people. He had a great deal of satisfaction from doing the soccer — it was rewarding. It was its own reward for him to know that because of soccer getting into the high school that kids actually got scholarships to go to college and earn degrees.”
Lois DeKay remembers that one of the young players invited them to her wedding because he had made such an impact on their lives as the kind of man he was and for starting the league.
“He was loved by the children,” Lois DeKay said. “He was also loved by adults. He commanded respect. I was in the doctor’s office and before the doctor examined me, he asked, ‘Are you related to Russ DeKay? — He coached me in basketball. I love that man!’” The doctor remembered he was 9 years old when Russ DeKay was his coach.
Lois DeKay worked as a register after the second year. She felt a sense of satisfaction when she used to get there early in the morning and know that she was helping bring out hundreds of kids who loved to play soccer and also to help unite the families.
“He had a heart as big as you-know-what,” Daniel said. “He was the best guy. We had an issue with one of the board members — we made him resign because he was stacking his team with the best players. Russ had the best temperament of any man I ever saw. We all just kind of looked up to him. We said if you’re going to name the field after anyone, you’re going to name it after him. Russ was instrumental in keeping everything running, Determan was the president of the league, but Russ was the guiding light in keeping the league going. That’s why they named the league after him.”
Each of the Fab Five had successful careers and lives, and yet found time to subjugate their egos and worked for the betterment of the Roswell Soccer Youth Association. Their dissatisfaction with the status quo was a good thing in changing lives forever in Roswell.