Soccer fields dedicated in Grassl’s honor

Grassl helped to develop the Greater Shawano Area Youth Soccer Association since 1989
Luke Reimer

A long-time supporter of the Greater Shawano Area Youth Soccer Association saw the soccer fields rededicated in his honor on May 11.

Shawano resident Paul Grassl moved to the area in 1989 and wanted to get involved with the community. That led him to organizing and coaching in the Greater Shawano Area Youth Soccer Association. Due to Grassl’s continued efforts within the league, the soccer fields located at 107 Eberlein Park Drive in Shawano will now bear his name.

“It was a total shock,” said Grassl. “One of my friends asked me if I could help out with concessions and I said I absolutely could help out.”

Grassl said that he went to the soccer fields on the night of May 11 with the thought that he was going to run concessions for the families there. Little did he know though that everyone was there to support and celebrate him.

“They shut the doors on the concessions and my first thought was that something bad had happened at the soccer field,” said Grassl. “I walked out there and everyone was standing there, including Mayor Bruce Milavitz. Bruce turned around and said that I need to go up there. He started reading the history of the league and all of the things that I had done and accomplished. That is when it clicked that they were honoring me. I was totally shocked.”

Grassl has been with the league since its beginning, not only coaching, but also organizing games, organizing coaches and writing grants to keep everything within the league running smoothly. He said that to see everyone there supporting him was very overwhelming, but all together very heartwarming.

“It was just something that I did because I want to get involved in the community when I moved up here,” said Grassl. “We got the soccer group up and running again. I worked on it for so many years. I wrote $326,000 in grants, so you can imagine how some of my nights were spent after the kids went to bed. It was just so cool to see all of 400-500 kids running around. It is really a heart-warming thing.”

What Grassl enjoyed about being a part of the league for so many years was that the soccer league became a hub for children all around the county who wanted to partake in the sport.

“When I wrote the grants, I used the fact that we had 13 different communities, from all the way up to Mountain, to Wittenberg, to Birnamwood, to Clintonville,” said Grassl. “That was really the highlight for me.”

Grassl saw three of his kids go through the league, which got him into the coaching position. From there, things spiralled forward and he took a large leadership role in the league.

“In 2008, building these soccer fields came to fruition,” said Grassl. “It was so nice just to have everybody consolidated onto one site, rather than 10 different sites all over the whole city. It was one of those things that I stayed in it to see those things through.”

Working with the league for over 20 years, Grassl called his time helping the community very fun.

“It was fun with all of the people that you got to meet,” said Grassl. “I would coach and get other coaches to take under my wing before letting them go and coach their own teams. You were basically recruiting coaches at that point. To this day, I see some of my coaches and say we should grab one of those little groups and coach again. It is just fun.”