Sandy and Larry Caplinger were honored by State Assemblyman Donnelly at last Saturday night’s Running Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Installation of Officers and Award ceremony.
On hand to celebrate the couple’s dedication to the soccer program in the Rim of the World Communities, Assemblyman Donnelly happily awarded them with a framed certificate from the State Assembly and while the couple knew “something was up” they didn’t know they would be receiving this award from the Assemblyman that night (or at all!).
I had the privilege of introducing the assemblyman after working “undercover” for months to help get the award to this deserving couple. Without Sandy and Larry in all probability there would be no soccer program and if there was it would not have been a “jewel in the mountain communities” that it is today.
The couple was lauded for their continued, loving support for the soccer program that today involves hundreds of local mountain children, from the youngest and tiniest players to the high-school aged players.
Sandy and Larry moved to Running Springs in 1971 and they’ve been here ever since. At the time, their son John was two-years-old and their baby Michael was only three months old. They moved because they had friends who lived in the mountains they visited and so they made a huge changed and moved to Running Springs.
In 1971 soccer was “brand new” in the mountains and a parent and child meeting was held. Their son Michael wanted to go to the meeting and the rest, as they say, is history. In addition to Sandy and Larry another early “soccer program” supporter was Leah Gerry who was living in Hollywood but who transferred to the mountains when the soccer program began. By 1977 Larry was assistant commissioner and in 1985 she took over the role as commissioner, a position Sandy still holds to this day. Larry moved on to become area director and as such he became more involved in the entire “section” that encompasses many different areas.
While the couple were so involved in soccer it wasn’t the only organization they supported. Sandy spent a few years on the Running Springs Elementary School PTA and she was also involved with the ski club and she remembers the fun times when a lot of the mothers and teachers at the local elementary school taught the children to ski at Snow Valley. In addition to her involvement with the ski club and the PTA Sandy was also a den mother for the local Running Springs troop of the Boy Scouts in the 1970s.
Not to be left out Larry volunteered for years with the Rim Youth Sports League and he was happy when the first soccer games were able to be played at MPH Intermediate School. Back in those days there were only 10 soccer teams, and this won’t surprise you…. Sandy was her son’s team mother.
For several years Sandy worked as a teacher’s aide at Running Springs Elementary School (now Hoffman Elementary). She spent 18 years helping various teachers in their classrooms. Additionally, somehow she survived being a noon duty aide which is always a somewhat thankless (but often challenging) job.
While “Team Caplinger” (as I call them) works together both Sandy and Larry have different responsibilities in the soccer program. With the expanded program that now includes teams from Running Springs, Blue Jay and all the way across the mountain, the responsibilities and complexities of the program have expanded. Somehow this couple manages to enter all the information and keep up with the information via their computer. Just think, they have to keep track of all the teams, assigning players by their ages and skills, getting and helping coaches, ordering uniforms, purchasing equipment including (what I imagine) are a lot of soccer balls, securing the use of all the fields, working with school district and recreation and park district officials for the use of the school and or district-owned playing fields, making and keeping up with information to all the parents and coaches, attending required “section” expositions, attending a national meeting and working with, and training, coaches. I’m tired just from writing all that let alone doing it so they have tremendous enthusiasm and energy or they wouldn’t still be involved. It’s no wonder they are so beloved by parents, coaches, players and are so respected nationally for their commitment to maintaining the soccer program. The next time you go to the upper field by Hoffman Elementary School you’ll have to pass by the sign that says, “Larry Caplinger Field.” One day, years and years ago, I took a photo of the sign after it was named for Larry and he totally deserved that honor. Throughout the years Larry has donated countless hours to working with AYSO on a local as well as national level.
With the slogan that “Everyone Plays” AYSO puts kids first, said Larry Caplinger. This slogan means that AYSO really does put children first because all children, whether they are the star or a child who just wants to help and enjoy the experience, is an important component of that organization. In the past several years AYSO has programs for children who are mentally or physically challenged and these incredible programs really do show the AYSO commitment to the “All Kids Play” slogan. It isn’t just a trite saying with AYSO, it’s a commitment to all children and the smiles on the faces of those children tell the wonderful tale of their enjoying playing soccer.
If you want to enjoy an hour or so on a Saturday and if you want to feel your heart beat a little bit stronger or your attitude be a little bit happier, go to Brulte Field on Hwy. 18 (between Charles Hoffman Elementary School and the Deer Lick Forest Service Ranger Station) and watch children play soccer. Your heart will appreciate you and if you can leave the play area without being re-invigorated and uplifted perhaps you need to talk to Larry or Sandy Caplinger. You’ll go home with a different attitude, just like local children have been doing for decades. If you hear singing coming from somewhere it ‘s apt to be your own heart!
While you’re there be sure to give Sandy and Larry a big “atta’ boy” for their state recognition. They deserve it and so much more!