Reisterstown, Md. (July 19, 2014) – The Washington Area Girls Soccer League (WAGS) has hired longtime volunteer President Kathie Diapoulis as its full-time Executive Director.
Sally D’Italia, the league’s Vice President of WAGS’ Maryland side, will take over as President, via a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors.
The decision by the Board of Directors to promote Diapoulis to Executive Director caps a two-year search to fill the role, a recommendation by an outside consultant which became a necessity amid WAGS’ continued growth. In fact, the Board began its search with a job description which described many of the duties Diapoulis was already fulfilling as an unpaid volunteer.
“Kathie has the entire package of what we need to help keep this league moving and growing,” said D’Italia. “With the changing landscape in youth soccer, we need somebody who can focus 100 percent on pushing forward with the league’s mission.
“Many people over the years, myself being one of them, have been saying that Kathie really should be getting paid for what she’s doing, because she’s going above and beyond what she’s been called to do as a volunteer, putting in tremendous amounts of hours,” D’Italia continued. “She was basically doing the work of the Executive Director without getting paid.”
In her role as President, Diapoulis has been a leading spokesperson and advocate for WAGS over the years, contributing significantly to the league’s exponential growth. Today, WAGS has about 650 teams and 10,000 total players with age groups ranging from Under-9 to Under-19. The WAGS Rael Vodicka Memorial Tournament has grown into one of the nation’s top girls soccer events, highlighted by a partnership with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and over 400 participating teams from all over North America attending each year.
During her time as President of WAGS, Diapoulis has helped institute some of the core philosophies that the league operates on today. These include the start of the POD Program, which provides a club-centric system for the league’s younger age groups, where development is emphasized over winning and losing.
With Diapoulis as one of the catalysts, WAGS recently announced an upcoming partnership with US Club Soccer set to debut this fall. WAGS will add boys divisions in its younger age groups in a competition limited to about 10 of its member clubs, creating a program known as Elite Player Development Limited. It will begin only with the U-9 and U-10 age groups, with a long-term vision for growth.
In addition to promoting the league’s mission and vision, Diapoulis will continue her duties in planning the fall and spring seasons, organizing logistics and making sure all strategies and ideas are implemented. Stepping into the paid Executive Director role, she will have more time and resources to dedicate to the various administrative and leaderships tasks required in the running of a 600-team youth soccer league.
“Here, we have a ready-made executive director where there really is no learning curve,” D’Italia said. “Ironically, the job description we wrote just ended up describing Kathie.”
Diapoulis and D’Italia step into their new roles during one of the few “quiet” times of the year for the league. WAGS is currently in the midst of its summer offseason, between the 2014 spring season which concluded in June and the fall season which begins in September. The 2014 WAGS Rael Vodicka Memorial Tournament is scheduled for Oct. 11-13.
Founded in 1974 by Mavis Derflinger and Rael Vodicka, the Washington Area Girls Soccer League is one of the premier girls’ soccer associations in the United States. Today’s membership includes some 600 teams from across D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, competing in a variety of divisions ranging from Under-9 to Under-19 age levels.