Anita Stilley’s involvement in soccer began just like it has for hundreds of thousands of other Americans. In Charlotte in 1980 when oldest son Scot was six, he told Anita and her husband Dick that he wanted to play soccer. What started as a typical effort to offer the best opportunities to her own child turned into a seventeen-year commitment that touched the lives of thousands of youth soccer players all over the United States. Two of those players were Anita and Dick’s other two children, Eric and Krista.
Anita’s extraordinary contributions as an administrator at the local, state, and national levels have earned her the distinction of being selected as a member of the fourth class of inductees of the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on this, the twenty-seventh day of January, 2001.
Anita’s deep and immediate passion for soccer would come as no surprise to those who knew her. She had graduated from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, with a BA in speech and theatre and a secondary teaching certificate in 1967. She was inducted into several honor societies and earned numerous academic awards. Even now, she serves her alma mater as Chair of the Theatre Advisory Board. She has held numerous leadership positions in a variety of service clubs, including the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In 1984 the North Carolina Federation honored her as the Outstanding Young Woman of the Year. All that time, she spent a lot of time on stage, performing in community theatre and children’s theatre productions. So her involvement in soccer would become an extension of a life-long commitment to excellence and service to others.
Some might say her involvement in soccer took a natural progression. She hadn’t spent much time on the sidelines as a spectator before she was recruited to be an assistant coach in the Park Sharon Athletic Association recreation league. As she learned more, she coached teams with more experienced players. And her career as an administrator began with her local club, the Charlotte Park Sharon Soccer Club, where she held several positions, including President. She then went on to serve NCYSA as Vice President, Classic Division in 1998-99. In that post, she had the privilege of accompanying the U-19 Greensboro Bucs, the Southern Regional Champions, to the USYSA National Championships at Long Island, NY. And the rest is history. Following that competition, Anita was appointed to the National Championship Committee for four years. Following the 1992 Championships in Richmond, she was appointed as Chair of that same committee and served in that capacity for another five years. Over the nine-year period she served on the committee, substantial improvements were made in the level of play and in the overall organization of the Championships. At the same time, she also served on the Competitions Committee of the USSF and was a delegate to USSF AGMs and to USYSA Workshops, at which she conducted several workshops on Championship rules.
It was also during that time when daughter Krista began asking questions about traveling teams for girls. Since there were no girls’ teams playing classic soccer at that time in Charlotte, guess who took charge? Anita returned to coaching and organized the ’79 Lady Tornado. Knowing that girls now have the same opportunity as boys to play soccer in Charlotte is a source of enduring satisfaction and the root of some of Anita’s most rewarding memories of her contributions to the game.
Anita’s outstanding record of service to the boys and girls who played soccer under the banner of NCYSA and USYSA has endeared her to a countless number of special friends and has taken her to many places across the United States and Europe. But her contributions far outnumber any personal gains. “The beautiful game” has benefited tremendously because of her efforts.