Four Decades Serving Our Community
Soccer Association of Boca Raton was founded as Boca Raton Youth Soccer Association in 1977 by Tucker and Betty Grinnan. The Grinnans had recently moved to Boca Raton from California where soccer was gaining popularity with parents and kids for recreational-level youth play.
Tucker and Betty wanted to form a recreational program that would last a few months of the year, and they sought advice from Bob Doucette, who was a math teacher and the soccer coach at St. Andrews School where their daughter attended school.
Doucette had just started the competitive-level Saint Andrews Soccer Club in 1976. It was made up of boys primarily from Saint Andrews School and Boca Raton High School that played nearly year-round against teams from throughout South Florida. He was happy to help them get off the ground.
The Grinnans met with the City of Boca Raton about starting a soccer program, and were given the green light for fields after football season. They gathered a few more volunteers, put an ad in the Boca Raton News, and waited to see how many showed up at J.C. Mitchell Elementary School to register one Fall Saturday morning.
Kids of all ages came to the outdoor skills and registration that day, and the program launched its 1977 – 1978 inaugural season with a 4-team division of Under-7/Under-8 year old boys.
They played at Memorial Park by City Hall, and finished the season with a post-season tournament. Dads made a replica Stanley Cup of cardboard and aluminum foil, and the winning team made the celebratory run around the field with their trophy held high.
Without knowing it, the boys on those first 4 teams assured the new league’s 2nd season would have a large turnout even before the 1st season ended. Lots of them wore their BRYSA uniform t-shirt to school, and word of the program spread from classrooms to hallways to kitchen tables. The program had hundreds of players the next season in 2-year age groups from U-8 to U-12.
The cardboard trophy gave way to The Mayors Cup – named to have the Mayor make the presentation, witness the popularity for the sport, and gain attention for the need for more fields.
By the 3rd season, the competitive-level Team Boca program was added in BRYSA to also play against those from Coral Springs, Plantation, and other Florida cities. BRYSA players were selected by open tryouts. Coach Doucette’s friend, Coach Ned Wilson from Gulfstream School led the youngest team of Boca boys, which won the club’s first Florida State Cup a few years later.
With nearly 1,000 kids playing recreational and competitive soccer on fields all over Boca, the Grinnans and Doucette believed it would be best to have one program instead of two. Doucette merged his teams with the Team Boca program, and the club changed its name to Soccer Association of Boca Raton.
As more people moved to Boca Raton, more kids came to play – reaching 2,000 by the mid-90’s. In late-February, 1998 – just before the end of the 1997-98 recreational season – SABR President Tom Cherubin passed away from a heart attack. Tom guided every Board decision to always “Do what’s right for the kids.”
The Board decided to keep that advice front and center going forward. The Mayors Cup was retired immediately, and the post-season was dedicated as the Tom Cherubin Tournament. Since 1998, the Tom Cherubin Cup is awarded to the winning tournament teams in the recreational Boys and Girls U-9 through U-18 divisions. And like the original cardboard and foil cup, the players still take their celebratory run around the field.
The more things change, the more things stay the same – particularly the popularity of SABR soccer in Boca Raton.
As more SABR children grew up and returned to Boca Raton to raise their families, grandchildren of the first and second generation started to play in SABR. A coaches league started play in the late ‘90’s, and grew in 10 years to a 200+ member year-round Adult program for men and women in our community. And in 2001, SABR added its TOPSoccer program so challenged athletes could play without charge.
SABR now counts nearly 3,000 members of all ages and skills who play for the fun and camaraderie of soccer.
Our thanks to Betty and Tucker Grinnan, Bob Doucette, Al Travasos, Al Hogan, Ed Lewcyk, Jr., Ed Lewcyk III, Art Turpel, Bob Rollins, Andy Goddard, and Earl Starkoff for sharing their oral history of our club.