Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Who We Are 2013

March 8, 2012

WHO WE ARE: Soccer's popularity keeps growing

GOSHEN — When exploring reasons for the increased popularity of soccer in Goshen one fact that can’t be denied is the cultural diversity the city has and its contributions.

The increasing Hispanic community in Goshen is a big part of the growth of what has been called the world’s most popular sport. Soccer is played by more than 250 million people in 200 countries.

“My first team at Goshen High School had one Hispanic girl,” said Dan Graber, now in his ninth year as the school’s girls soccer coach. “Now it is more like 50-50 or 60-40.”

According to Graber the process has taken some time as the Hispanic community came to trust the coaches.

“Hispanic girls not playing sports is something we had to fight through,” Graber said. “That barrier is now broken and we now have some girls who could play (NCAA) D-1 soccer. To help gain the Hispanic trust we hired people that spoke their language. The Hispanics found out that soccer was a way to unite the community. We have come a long way in the last 10 years.”

Three brothers

Laos, a small landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west has also played a key role in soccer’s rising popularity in the Maple City.

A trio of Laotian brothers from what might be referred to as Goshen’s “first family” in the sport continues to be a guiding presence behind the remarkable growth.

Tavi Mounsithiraj is the head men’s soccer coach at Goshen College and also serves as the executive director of the Goshen Youth Soccer Organization (GYSO). Thavisith Mounsithiraj is a former GC women’s head coach and is currently the head girls coach at Bethany Christian High School. And Viratham Mounsithiraj is the Goshen High School boys coach.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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