Inducted January 22, 2010
Armando Mendoza and Lawton and soccer are synonymous in Oklahoma. Whether it was coaching, refereeing, or volunteering, the California native adopted the game of soccer while serving in the United States Army and became the man to contact for soccer in Lawton.
Growing up in East Los Angeles, Armando played the usual sports of baseball, basketball, and football, but not soccer.
“My first exposure to soccer came when I was stationed in Germany and my father-in-law asked me to go with him to a football game,” says Armando. Little did Armando realize that football in Germany is soccer. “I had never seen anything like that. The crowd, the flags, the singing, and the excitement got to me and I was wrapped up in it right away.”
Armando met and married his wife Christa while stationed in Germany and the three Mendoza children have three separate birthplaces: Tony, the oldest, was born in Vicenza, Italy; Michael was born in Wiesbaden, Germany; and Christina was born in San Francisco. All three became soccer players and played for their dad. And now Armando works with his granddaughters, Alexandria Mendoza and Jada Deen.
While serving his country, Armando achieved his Associate Degree through the Army and worked in logistics during his 24 years of service. In addition to making certain supplies available to the troops, he became a member of the Army’s airborne unit and a paratrooper. Asked if he ever sky dives, Armando replied: “No, because in Germany our pilot gave us the jump signal too early and we landed in German grapevines. I try not to jump out of perfectly good airplanes anymore.”
Returning to Lawton in 1990 on a compassionate re-assignment due to his father’s death, Armando and the family settled in Lawton and Armando began pursuing his dream of bringing the two soccer programs under the auspices of Oklahoma Soccer and US Youth Soccer. As of 2008, that dream became a reality. “The joining of the two groups was important to soccer development in Lawton, but the building of the Big Green complex with 35 fields by a Lawton businessman was significant.
Armando is proud of the Southwest Oklahoma Soccer Referee Association he helped found to train and guide referees in Lawton and the surrounding cities. He also points out that his family supported him in all his soccer endeavors and that Mike Mahoney was an early supporter of Armando and his dream.
Armando’s vision continues as he works with the young people who will follow in his footsteps. “I tell them to keep working hard to make what you have better than how you found it and the club and program will continue to grow.” As Lawton Soccer Club begins its fourth year, it will have Armando Mendoza to continue its growth and development.
Inducted January 22, 2009
Atef Iskander’s introduction to Oklahoma Soccer came in 1979 while a student at the University of Tulsa studying for his PHD in Geophysics. Rick Priest, Atef’s boss at TU, had started an adult team and asked Atef to join the squad. At the first team meeting, Priest told Atef he was one of the two players who must attend a referee meeting because each team was required to send two players. “I didn’t want to referee,” said Iskander. “I just wanted to play soccer, but I went and that’s how it all started.”
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Atef attended Cairo University and then came to the United States to get a degree. “I played soccer in Egypt but my main sport was water polo,” says Atef. He attended the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota gaining a BS in Mathematics and a Masters’ Degree in Geological Engineering.
“After two years of classes at TU, I quit and started my own business with my brother,” said Iskander. While starting up his own business, Atef became immersed in local soccer activities. In 1980 he officiated high school matches in Tulsa and worked in the Bixby Soccer Club as a referee, an assignor, Area Referee, and eventually club president.
It was while officiating local matches that Broken Arrow’s Mario Palma spotted Iskander and began telling his referee friends of an “up and coming” official from Bixby. Atef began working to gain the assessments and games required to attain the coveted State Referee badge. “I remember the first regionals held in Oklahoma in 1982. I worked those games with referees such as Richard Brook, Russ Staurovsky, Tom Iadevaia, and others.”
At a U19 state championship in East Tulsa, Atef had a Peter Aradi moment. “Peter handed me a note after the match and told me to read it later. When I opened it he had written that I did well but I needed to lose 25 pounds. I lost the weight.”
By 1985 he had attained the state’s highest ranking – a State Referee grade 5. The Oklahoma Soccer Association appointed Atef the State Referee Administrator that year and he held the office for three years. Atef was determined to gain the highest badge available in the United States Soccer Federation – a National badge. He trained and prepared himself for that task and in 1992 achieved his goal. The previous year he gained his USSF State Instructor badge after spending ten days in training at Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center.
After holding the National badge for three years, Atef retired from refereeing and focused on another aspect of soccer officiating – assessments. In 1995 Atef became a National Assessor and in the same year was appointed State Youth Referee Administrator.
In all aspects of his referee career, Atef has been determined to promote excellence in officiating. Whether spending hours observing young refs or instructing them or assessing them, he wants Oklahoma to be known for its quality referees.
The Iskander family of wife Becky, daughter Sherene (who also referees and plays on a U19 team and at Holland Hall), and son Matthew (who chose not to play soccer) have supported Atef as he moved from referee to coach when Sherene began playing.
Atef’s advice to new referees and coaches is simple and wise: Watch games and if you are a referee, watch the referee on as many games as you can.
Inducted January 22, 2010
“I’m a soccer parent/coach,” Brian Harvey proudly states, “just like many of the parents in Oklahoma soccer.” Brian began his soccer at the age of five in Liverpool, England.
Harvey played for Sheffield Wednesday as a junior in school and eventually signed with Chester Soccer Club staying with them until his move to the NASL in 1968. He signed with the Dallas Tornadoes owned by Lamar Hunt and stayed with them until 1970. “I moved back to Dallas in 1978 after a stint with the Minnesota Kicks and began teaching at private schools in the Dallas area.”
Harvey worked with Club America and took a U16 boys’ team to the national championship in 1979. He stayed in the Dallas area until 1981 when he moved to the Oklahoma City area to coach the Oklahoma City Slickers professional team.
Brian has established roots in the Oklahoma City area. His wife, Judy, is a teacher at the Learning Tree Center and his daughter, Nicole, was a member of the Shockers ‘82 squad and the Putnam City North High School team.
Brian’s professional coaching career led him to Tulsa in 1985 to work with the Tulsa Tornadoes. “It was a strange situation,” he says, “because you had two professional soccer teams in Tulsa for a year. We were in Skelly Stadium and so were the Roughnecks. After the NASL folded I moved to Oklahoma City and formed the Spirit Soccer Club as a competitive boys’ program. We added the girls in about 1988. In 1986 I took the job at Oklahoma City University as boys’ coach and been there since.”In 1994 Brian began coaching the girls’ squad at OCU.
“I think that with youth soccer,” says Brian, “the main focus must be on development.”
Brian doesn’t consider winning to be the goal that so many of his parent/coach colleagues get caught up in. “If you are a youth player, you’ll play a thousand games in your career. You can’t win all those games. You’re not going to lose them all, either. Bottom line - you’ve got to enjoy the game. It’s more about how to win or lose with class. If the game is fun, they will stay with it.”
As with most coaches, Harvey has a few quotes that he lives by. One of his favorites: “Your last game is your next practice.” Another one is: “The best coach in the world is the game. The more kids play the game, the more likely they are to figure it out. That little player on the field, he is the decision maker; there is very little a parent or coach can do – the player has got to figure it out.”
OCU teams under Brian’s coaching have never had a losing season, and Brian’s graduation rate is 90 percent. His college players have gone on to be lawyers, doctors and college coaches and model themselves after the dedication and perseverance of their coach.
Inducted January 22, 2010
If a volunteer is needed in Oklahoma Soccer, the first name on most everyone’s lips is Frankie Mozingo. And it’s been that way for thirty-two years because Frankie Mozingo believes that adults should volunteer to help youngsters.
When young Frankie left Ola, Arkansas after graduating high school, she entered nursing school in Ft. Smith where she met her future husband, Ivy, when she and her nursing school roommate went on a double date with the Mozingo brothers.
In Tulsa, Frankie began a nursing career at St. Francis Hospital and began her family. Her passion at that time was coaching a game she played in high school – basketball. Her sons Gene and David never played soccer but Marsha, the youngest, drew Frankie into soccer when her newly formed U8 team needed a coach.
Searching for knowledge, Frankie took all the state courses available and then the USSF C class.
Thus began a long-term connection to the game of soccer that Frankie has never stepped away from even while facing cancer treatment. When her Broken Arrow Express ‘68 team won the state championship (the first of 5), Frankie was undergoing chemotherapy. “I believe those girls saved my life,” says Mozingo. “I would go to the games, and try to run practice, but they would often tell me to just stay home because we’ll run practice. I couldn’t stay home so I forced myself to go. I couldn’t stay home and feel sorry for myself.” Her ’80 team players and parents have also been supportive of her during these past years.
At Ivy’s suggestion she agreed to cut back on her coaching and playing although she still finds time to hold training sessions for U8 and U10 recreational teams.
In 1995 Frankie was named National Coach of the Year and Olympic Development Coach of the Year in 1996. In 1999 she retired from St. Francis to enjoy her free time – volunteering. “And fishing,” she laughs. Frankie loves to fish almost as much as she loves to volunteer. This past year she accepted a coaching position for a team that had no coach. She has kept her referee license current and officiates matches when called upon.
“When I was growing up parents did things for their kids and I think we need to continue that concept,” says Frankie. She also thinks that volunteering means not getting paid to do those tasks that make a non-profit organization work. “I was never paid to coach, and I didn’t expect to be.”
If you visit Indian Springs Soccer Complex in Broken Arrow during the soccer seasons, you’ll find Frankie Mozingo. She will be coaching a team, or officiating, or watching her grandchildren play. Dustin Mozingo is a referee and player and Cassie Bruce plays soccer just as her mother Marsha did on the fields at Broken Arrow.
Frankie has certificates from her coaching classes and state championship titles for her walls, but mostly she has fond memories of her teams, the parents, and the members of Broken Arrow Soccer Club. “I stick around because I enjoy the kids and soccer people are good people,” says Frankie.
Inducted January 22, 2010
Steve Earle’s journey to Oklahoma for the Feltham, Middlesex native began with his playing days for various school teams and eventually signing with Fulham. Finishing his English Premier days with Leicester City after playing more than 425 matches, Steve came to the United States to play in the North American Soccer League for Detroit. After a year with Detroit, Steve joined the Tulsa Roughnecks and eventually became an assistant coach with Terry Hennessey.
“The progression to coaching was a natural one for me,” says Earle. He earned his English Football Association badge early and often coached school age teams in the afternoons while he was a professional player. Steve was with the Roughnecks when they won the 1983 NASL Soccer Bowl and stayed in Tulsa to coach the indoor team. With his professional experience, Steve’s insight to the game allowed him to share that knowledge with young players. He began putting on camps and coaching teams at the club level. He continues to coach today with Tulsa Soccer Club and works with the Olympic Development Program in OSA as a scout identifying up and coming talent.
Referees respected Steve’s knowledge of the game and many came to appreciate his humor from the touchlines. With his infamous pith helmet, Steve patrols the area using motivational strategies to boost his team’s play. One example of this technique came with an ODP team trailing South Texas 3-0 at the half. Steve told the team: “I don’t mind losing a match, but I do mind losing because you didn’t show up - so far no one has shown up.” The team went out and tied the match in the second half.
The Earle family of wife Jackie and sons’ Steve, Jr. and Jamie remain close to the Tulsa area and the Oklahoma soccer scene. Jackie commented that “Steve is proudest of placing over 300 young men on scholarships over the past 25 years.” Steve now considers Oklahoma his home. “This is a great place to live and raise a family.”
Steve’s history of coaching includes coaching his Tulsa Pride club for 14 years as well as winning 30 state championships. During his career he has also taken Oklahoma teams to numerous regional competitions and the national championship with his Tulsa Pride team in 1999.
Steve’s philosophy for coaching soccer combines hard work, dedication, and education. “Education, whether high school, technical school, or college, is the most important means to obtaining one’s goals. Soccer is a powerful tool in reaching those goals,” he says.