Joan Czach coached the West Babylon Panthers to the Boys U-17 national championship in 2000. (Photo courtesy of the LIJSL)

Joan Czach will retire as Long Island Junior Soccer League at the end of the year after a 41-year career as a coach and administrator.

She was recently honored at the LIJSL President’s Meeting.

Czach’s accomplishments have included directing the West Babylon Panthers to a U.S. Youth Soccer national championship, being named 2013 East Region administrator of the year and induction into the LIJSL and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Halls of Fame.

”Words can’t express what Joan Czach has meant to the LIJSL,” LIJSL president Anthony Maresco. ”Being involved in youth soccer for over 40 years, her accomplishments are insurmountable. … Her dedication and passion for the game helped change the landscape of youth soccer on Long Island. The league is forever grateful for her contributions and we wish her all the best as she starts a new chapter in her life.”

Czach began her career when she volunteered to be an assistant coach for her son’s intramural team, the West Babylon Panthers, in 1978. They became the first West Babylon intramural team to win a tournament, then started playing travel in the LIJSL in 1982. She took over as the head coach in 1986 when coach Maureen Nohilly was killed by a drunk driver.

When the Panthers aged out of youth soccer and were in college, the players made Czach promise that she would take over a new Boys Under-9 team and also name them the West Babylon Panthers. But the original Panthers, born in 1973, could never had imagined what the new Panthers, born in 1982 and 1983, would accomplish as they became one of the most successful LIJSL teams. The Panthers won five State Cup championships and 12 major tournament titles, including one in San Juan, Argentina. They also won the Boys U-17 national championship in 2000, received the Fair Play Award at the nationals and the Golden Boot (forward Anthony Barberio) and Golden Glove (goalkeeper James Cjasko).

She also served as the treasurer for the West Babylon Soccer Club, volunteered for weekend duty working their hot dog truck and co-chaired club dinner-dances. Czach volunteered as a LIJSL division supervisor, Chase Cup chairperson and games chairperson plus volunteered for ENYYSA as the State Cup coordinator. In 1991, she was elected to the LIJSL board of directors and became the LIJSL executive director in 1997.

Two decades ago, the LIJSL did not use databases as everything was handwritten on paper and the league registration process went on for weeks. Czach streamlined the program, starting a database and greatly reducing the number of volunteer hours needed for registration. She also developed a program to record referee’s game reports in one step that once took two weeks-plus, has written a coaching manual for new coaches and gave nightly coaching orientation courses.

As executive director, she successfully petitioned the LIJSL board of directors to allow girls teams from the Big Apple Youth Soccer League and Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League, without a place to play, to compete as guest teams in the LIJSL.

Czach said that her career highlights include winning that national championship and the Argentinian tournament, traveling, making numerous friends through soccer and twice having dinner with the U.S. Women’s National Team players that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

”I’m very happy that I remain in contact with the players who I coached decades ago and get invited to their weddings,” she said.

Added ENYYSA president Richard Christiano: ”It’s seemingly impossible to think of the LIJSL without Joan Czach as she has been such a positive presence of the league for the past four decades as both a coach and administrator. We wish her nothing but the best in her retirement.”