WAGS REFLECTIONS BYADELE DOLANSKY
For this first article, my reflections will center around my early conversations with Rael Vodicka and Mavis Derflinger, as well as the birth of WAGS. Since I did not become involved with WAGS until 1976 – two years after its inception – I wanted to learn as much as I could about the origin of the organization. Who better to teach me than two of its founding members!
Mavis Derflinger first met Rael Vodicka in 1973, when Rael’s husband, Ron Vodicka and Mavis, were both coaching their respective daughters’ teams. Back in those days, there were only a handful of established clubs and the few that had girl’s teams would compete in inter-club games. It was during this
period that Rael first expressed her thoughts about forming a competitive league for the girls – just like the boys. Her unwavering enthusiasm was shared by a small group of individuals with similar interests: William “Doc” Blandford, Mavis Derflinger, Paul Creelman, Everett Germain, Larry Paul, Polly Phillips, Jackie Reed, Dee Reid, and Ron Vodicka. These individuals, whom I have always referred to as the “Founders,” set forth the groundwork for WAGS.
In the early months of 1974, the Founders approached the Fairfax County Soccer Association (FCSA) –eventually the National Capital Soccer League (NCSL) – to ask if they would implement a Girls Division in their Boys Competitive League. Polly Phillips attended the Spring League FCSA meeting, to make the request, but the motion was subsequently tabled by the Board of FCSA. Taking that response as a “no,” the Founders moved forward independently, to establish a Girls Competitive Soccer League, to begin competiton the Spring of 1975.
At the end of the Spring 1974 club season, Mavis Derflinger was informed that her U-19 girls’ team was about to be split-up and redistributed within the club for the next season. This did not sit well with Mavis, and she immediately call Rael who, in turn, called an emergency meeting of the Founders. It was at this meeting, on Rael and Ron’s backyard deck in Red Fox Forest, that the decision was made to start the All-Girls Competitive Soccer League in the Fall of 1974: The league was named the Washington Area Girls Soccer League - WAGS.
WAGS First Season Officers: Rael Vodicka (President), Marie Steckman (Secretary), and Lonnie Fisher (Treasurer and Registrar).
Once underway, the center of the fledgling league became Rael’s kitchen where she worked tirelessly – continually strengthening the league’s foundation. Through her efforts, the inaugural season of WAGS was a great success. WAGS was comprised of “Select” and “All-Star” girls’ teams, which were all from the greater Washington area and competed on an intra-club basis. Below is a listing of the clubs that participated in the inaugural season.
WAGS First Season Clubs: Annandale Boys Club, Arlington Soccer Association, Bladensburg Soccer Club, Bowie Soccer Association, Bowie Boys Club, Braddock Road Boys Club, Camp Springs Soccer Club, Hayfield, Reston Youth Athletic Association, and Virginia Hills.
There were three Divisions: (1) Senior Division, girls born in 1958 and older, (2) Intermediate Division, girls born 1959 and younger, and (3) a Junior Division, with girls born 1962 and younger. There was a total of 15 teams that participated in the Inaugural WAGS Fall 1974 Season.
The Senior Division Champion was the Virginia Hills Gremlins, coached by Mavis Derflinger. In case you were wondering, Mavis left Lee Mount Vernon (after being summarily told her team was to be dismantled) and started Virginia Hills. The Intermediate Champion was the Bowie Weebles, coached by Joe Lucie and the Junior Division Champion was the Braddock Road Capital Fire, coached by Polly Phillips.
After the completion of the Fall season, the Junior Division held a tournament and picnic on Sunday, November 17, 1974 at Robinson High School.
Each of the four teams, Annandale Boys Club, Braddock Road Boys Club, Arlington Soccer Association and Reston Youth Athletic Association played two games in the tournament. The first round of games ended with Reston defeating Arlington 6-1 and Braddock Road over Annandale 3-2 in PK’s. The second and final round ended with Braddock Road over Reston 8-0 and Annandale over Arlington 4-0. The picnic that followed, although on the chilly side, was a fitting finale for the WAGS Inaugural season.
The Founders vision to have a Competitive All-Girls Soccer League was well on its way to becoming a reality.
Stay tuned for the next chapter: (1) USYSA’s Historic Beginning and what it meant to the clubs in WAGS. (2) The first all-girls competitive soccer tournament is born: The WAGS Tournament. Putting WAGS’s best against the nation’s best.
Grant Requirements Grant Scholarship amounts of up to $1,200
Women and Girls in Soccer is awarding up to a $1,200 Childcare Grant per recipient, committing $80,000 to empower and support women in soccer for which affording childcare can be a barrier to their ability to stay in the game. Applicants must be a female licensed coach or semi-pro player competing in Fall 2023 and/or Spring 2024. The grant will be awarded to female coaches of all levels and female semi-pro players based on the WAGS Childcare Grant application process.
Moms spoke, WAGS listened. Lula Bauer, WAGS Chairwoman stated, “We’ve been hearing from highly skilled coaches that childcare costs are one barrier to moms staying in the game. We know women who feel supported are more likely to stay in the game. That’s why WAGS is so honored to be able to support and empower these brilliant, hard-working moms all over the country by offering the first-of-itskind WAGS Childcare Grant.” Lula, a seasoned soccer coach and mom of three, also noted “Having these funds when I was raising my boys would have been a game changer, it could have helped me bring my child-care provider and my boys to practices and games with me!”
Special Thank you to “#MomsWhoCoach“ Initiative for inspiring us to find a way to make an impact.
More about the Women Coaches Community
ADELE DOLANSKY COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS
Women and Girls in Soccer awards four $10,000 college scholarships to empower and support the exceptional female soccer athlete to play at the collegiate level. Applicants must be rostered and playing on a team accepted and playing in the WAGS Rael Vodicka Annual Soccer Tournament held annually in October.
WAGS will award four scholarships to players who meet the above criteria, who excel in a broad variety of extracurricular activities and who demonstrate active participation in community service. WAGS is looking for individuals who embrace the qualities and characteristics necessary to play on an elite soccer team and who apply these qualities to her daily life.
Submissions for 2024 will open in October 2023.
Congratulations to our 2023 recipients on this well-deserved award, we wish you good luck in your next chapter. WAGS is honored to help women and girls reach their goals through soccer.
Applicants must be 17-19 years of age
A minimum 3.7 GPA
A commitment to play soccer in college Applicants do not need to be a U.S. citizen
played for Space Coast United RL G05/04 in Florida and will attend and play for Washington and Lee University in the fall.
played for TSJ FC Virginia 04/05G GA and will attend and play for College of William and Mary in the fall.
played for Jordan Lake Futbol Club, JLFC Elite 05G in North Carolina and will attend and play for Gettysburg College in the fall.
played for 05 (18U) JASA Coastal Surge Blk G in North Carolina and will attend and play for Centre College in the fallAbigail Watson Ava Marvin Payton Waller Caitlyn Guarino
On February 9th-11th, 2018 WAGS hosted the “1st All Female D License Course Weekend” in the United States. History Made!
The coaches embarked on a first of its kind, groundbreaking International Coaching Education Trip to France June 14th – June 22nd, 2019 to include three World Cup Matches.
Fully Sponsored Coaching Education
March 2020 Grassroots coaching courses Sponsored by WAGS and hosted at Horizons Edge in Harrisonburg, VA
August 14th 2021 All Female Grassroots Coaching
WAGS' mission for Mavis Derflinger
April 2022 – WAGS sponsored All Female National C License with support from Virginia Youth Soccer. We sponsored 16 Female Coaches, who are all
September 2022 –WAGS sponsored National C License in conjunction with New Jersey Youth Soccer. We sponsored 22 female coaches who are now all C Licensed coaches.
Coach Education was born from the dream of our Chairwoman Lula Bauer to host fully sponsored All Female Courses. Lula wanted to made the barriers women face disappear and offer a pathway to success. In 2017, WAGS became a charitable organization and our coach education journey began.
Referee Education and Support
Helping Women Reach Their Goals in Soccer
WAGS is committed to increasing the quantity and quality of female soccer referees in the United States. Programs include partnerships with clubs, leagues, state and national associations to promote female referees.
WAGS has sponsored and is proud to have certified 135 New Female Referees since our 1st course in 2018!
Upon successful completion of the course, all registration fees the candidates paid were reimbursed by WAGS!
The VA Marauders have entered a partnership agreement with Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS). As part of the agreement, the Women and Girls in Soccer logo will be printed onto the front of every WL first-team kit. Said team ownership and staff: "we are delighted that Women's and Girls in Soccer is partnering with us on our shared objective of advancing female soccer. WAGS has an incredible history of building and supporting females in soccer for 5 decades.
More about the USLW
With this sponsorship WAGS continues to expand their legacy as a pioneer and steadfast ambassador of the women’s game at all levels and for all involved.
Read the full release
August 2, 2023). Today Tallahassee (TLH) Reckoning announced Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS) as the franchise’s first-ever Official Impact Sponsor for its inaugural 20232024 season.
WAGS making an IMPACT sponsoring two USL Teams for 2023 as they begin their journey in the USLW.
WAGS Resource Centers Africa
For many girls around the world, playing soccer is a luxury they can’t afford. But that doesn’t mean soccer can’t have a positive and impactful role in changing their lives.
WAGS in partnership with the University of Lynchburg Women's Soccer Program, their partner Sports Outreach and The Robert Katende Initiative, empowers women and girls in Africa. June of 2017 our outreach to Africa began, to help women and girls to not just thrive in their communities, but thrive in life. The contributions from WAGS provided critically needed computers, office software, supplies, and funding to hire a teacher and enabled the opening of the WAGS Gulu Educational Resource Center.
In 2018 WAGS provided funding and a second resource center was opened the Katwe WAGS Educational Resource Center, again coordinated and managed through the Robert Katende Initiative.
Read more about Robert Katende his impact and transformational work. We are fortunate to have him leading our programming in Africa.
WAGS continues to provide maintenance payments to ensure the programming continues to offer a teacher, education options, computer accessibility and a safe space for girls.
WAGS gives women and girls hope and a chance, by providing funding so they can have the guidance they so desperately need, whether it be to learn basic life skills, computer skills, or even foot skills.
In 2022, a new building was under construction in Katwe which has an entire floor dedicated to the WAGS Resource programming
Our Mission is to empower Women to reach their goals in soccer. We strive to elevate and make women feel valued. Our WAGS Tournament has been serving women since 1975 and is our funding source that makes it all possible.