Kailua’s Stewart Scores National Soccer Leadership Role
As a member of AYSO’s national board of directors, traveling off-island is just part of the job for Kailua resident Mark Stewart. And having recently been appointed as AYSO’s national president (the first from Hawaii), Stewart is gearing up for a few more trips.
“My frequent-flier miles will increase,” he predicted. “You know you’re flying too much when the flight attendants start recognizing you.”
Stewart’s musings are all in jest, of course. He is excited about his recent appointment, which came in a vote by executive members during the final day of its national business meetings. “It is a big honor and a big responsibility, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Stewart has lived in Kailua since 1963 and attended Enchanted Lake Elementary and Kailua Intermediate. His association with American Youth Soccer Organization dates back to 1984 when he began coaching his oldest son’s team (in Region 100 in Kailua). In addition to national board service, he’s also been vice president since 2006 and has held a variety of positions, including regional safety director, regional commissioner, area director and section director.
A frequent destination for Stewart will be Torrance, Calif., where AYSO holds meetings.
Stewart loves seeing the positive effects youth soccer can have in a community, and that feeling burns as bright now as when he entered AYSO three decades ago.
“The beauty of AYSO is that everyone plays,” said Stewart. “Participation is what matters most. We are the largest single club in the United States with a half-million players (and overseeing more than 1,000 regions). Of course, you want to win when you get between the lines, but they (players) learn teamwork, and soccer gets them on the field basically. AYSO is still a volunteer-based organization, so parental involvement is important.
“Soccer is a world sport — it is an easy game to get started in and a hard one to master,” he noted.
“All you need is a ball and a net.”
Stewart owns a local real estate and property management firm locally. His family includes wife Cristi, sons Cory and Kyle, and two granddaughters Yael and Daphene.