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He's into this game

There isn't much that John Duvall doesn't do for the Paris Youth Soccer Association. For the past nine years, he's been the league's registrar and its field assigner. For the last seven, he also has been its game scheduler. He coaches a girls under-15 select team and spends hours each week mowing and lining the fields, putting out flags before games and even emptying the trash.

”I basically don't see him from the beginning of March until the end of May. Then it starts again in August through the first of ­November,“ Duvall's wife, Lisa, said jokingly.

In recognition of his dedication to youth soccer, Duvall was named the 2007 national volunteer of the year by the U.S. Youth Soccer Association at an awards ­banquet in Pittsburgh last month.

The award was a surprise to Duvall, who had been named Kentucky's youth soccer volunteer of the year in August. Unbeknownst to him, that title allowed him to be considered for U.S. Youth Soccer's inaugural regional and national volunteer of the year awards. Both were given for the first time for 2007, said Bryan Brooks, director of marketing and communications for the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association.

”You don't do those things to get awards,“ said Duvall, who works as a team member in body-weld quality at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown. ”But at the same time, it was kind of nice to get recognized.“

Duvall was named the national volunteer of the year from among the four regional award winners; the others were from Connecticut, Mississippi and California. The national award recognizes Duvall's work ”as a positive role model who promotes the game and increases the opportunities to participate“ in soccer, according to a news release that announced the honor.

Jeff Jett, president of the Paris Youth Soccer Association, and Amy Snell, whose daughter, Caroline, 15, played on Duvall's team, nominated Duvall for the statewide volunteer award through the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association last summer.

”I know there are people all over the United States that are involved in soccer … but I would say Johnny has to be ranked the highest of anyone that I know, as far as their duties and what they give to their organization to make sure that youth soccer stays strong in their community,“ Jett said. ”He is just a great human being and a great role model for the kids,“ Snell said. ”They see him give and give and give without expecting anything in return.“

Duvall didn't care for soccer at first.

”I thought soccer was the most boring game in the world when I first started watching it,“ said Duvall, who'd grown up playing football and basketball.

His distaste for the game worsened in the early 1980s, when he blamed it for costing him his job coaching football at Millersburg Military Academy. (The school decided to disband the football program in favor of starting a soccer program, because soccer teams were much cheaper to outfit, he said.)

Learning to love It

Duvall had been talked into coaching a soccer team when his oldest daughter, Maria, now 27, started to play soccer as a 5-year-old, but he didn't click with the sport. And he took ”a long sabbatical“ from it.

It wasn't until his second daughter, Lauren, now 18, began to play soccer that Duvall found a reason to love the game.

As an 8-year-old, Lauren knocked heads with another player going for the ball. When Duvall, who was coaching the team, went to check on her, she refwused to come out of the game.

”She was all fired up. Her nose was bleeding, but she didn't want to come out,“ Duvall said. ”I saw how much she wanted to play. For some reason, that was just the turning point for me.“

Since then, he has been devoted to the game. His youngest daughter, Lindsay, 14, plays on his under-15 girls select team. And Lauren, a senior at Bourbon County High School, is an assistant coach with the team.

The girls are ”very proud“ that their dad contributes so much to the community and its soccer programs, Lisa Duvall said.

A way to give back

John Duvall views his work with Paris' youth soccer program, which is coordinated through the Paris-Bourbon County YMCA, as a way to give other kids the same opportunities to play sports that he had as a child.

”I grew up at the YMCA,“ Duvall said. ”All of the youth sports I played were Y affiliated. They were really good to me. And I don't mind giving back to a community and a program that's been so good to me.“

You can nominate a soccer volunteer

To nominate a volunteer for the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association's 2008 Volunteer of the Year Award, complete an online nomination form at www.kysoccer.net. Nominations are due June 15.

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