In the early 70s, I had set up a scouting program for our area in Scarsdale called Greenacres. It was so successful that before long I was asked to set up scouting in two other areas. It was fun doing but I realized that most young boys had no real sport to play other than football and baseball, and yes, basketball. The boys had to have certain talents to play those three sports and most boys didn’t fit the bill, as only the very best were chosen out of all who tried out, leaving over 70% of the boys in the town with no real sport to play. That is why scouting became so important but it was not enough for boys needing a sport.
One day I was approached by a parent of a new scout who like myself wanted to be more involved helping the boys, and wondered if we could set up a soccer team. I had no idea of what the game of soccer was, and so asked about it. He told me it was sort of like football, but not so aggressive or dangerous. after he explained how the game was played and how it wasn’t important how big or Athletic the boys were, but rather it could be played by all with only the will to be on a team, and just have fun kicking a ball. I said, wow that sounds great as both my sons had absolutely no interests in the sports available. So, we made plans to start with him doing the teaching and me the organizing. It worked and as we moved forward with our plan, it grew. However,most everyone here in America had no idea of what the game of soccer was, and it was only because this parent who was from England where it is was very big, as well as it was all over the world. The reason the English neighbor thought it was a good game for all the young kids who weren’t good at baseball or football, as there was another and different sport to play just for fun.
I agreed and we two began in our local school district at Greenacres. We started by visiting with the gym teacher who thought it was a great idea and knew the sport slightly, so he promised to allow us to show up at his classes. at the first meeting we asked the boys if they would like a game of fun where they would not have to learn anything, but just kick a ball. Now we had another problem to overcome and that was I had no idea about how to play the game. Baseball, yes, football, yes, but soccer, no way. so, we asked all the boys to ask their fathers if they knew how to play soccer, or if they would like to help us to teach and play soccer. Low and behold a father showed up at the next meeting in the gym class and he said he played semi-pro soccer in Brazil when he was young and would love to coach a team, and even to the parents who could learn to become coaches. so now we had a start and proceeded to go to the local parent association which controlled all area activities and ran all that went on in the district, and it was called The Greenacres Association. It was run by the males of the families owning homes in the district who were voted into office every three years, with meeting every month. So we went to the next meeting for their approval to allow the soccer games to be played in the school yard when Football or baseball weren’t being played, which was just before twilight when we were able to start to play. And so it Began, and began it did with over 60 players wanting to learn. Wow! Wow! when we started it was just a big learning curve, but found the boys were having fun, more fun, than they imagined, and they didn’t have to train, or do anything but run and play at kicking a ball. after a year of soccer, we had 3 teams of ascending ages from Greenacres, and after we advised the other districts of our success, they asked for help in setting up a team of their own, so we began bringing each of the other teams to play against each other, and before long Scarsdale had 24 teams and nearly 400 players, 24 coaches, and 48 assistants with me running the program as chairman and head coach. I found that it wasn’t always fun doing the job, as every so often I had to fire a coach due to his either favoring is son, or making it more important to win using only the best players, leaving others not so good to sit out the whole game. So, all I did was travel from game to game each weekend asking the right question of the boys sitting on the bench and how much they got to play. It seemed to work as I was continually voted back into office each season, and before long Soccer was the major sport in Scarsdale, with soccer fields built in each district. However, my sons were always most important in my mind, and as they were growing up, we found things we did together from soccer, to skying, to motorcycling, to playing serious racquetball, and finally to watch them move out into their world, and begin conquering it in their own special way. So far, all three has surpassed my wildest dreams!
All my young life I was very involved with religion, because my mother started all her children into being devout catholic’s. So, as I grew up religion was an important part of my life, and it controlled how I thought and acted. When I married I was 26, and a virgin, and most of my friends called me “The Saint”,and for a good reason. If I heard any friend curse, I would go over to him and punch him out. If he fought back, I would continue to beat him up, no matter how big he was, cause I had something always going for me… I was left handed and did things in the opposite way everyone else did, and so giving me a big advantage. So, I was the Saint, and actually respected for it. out of 12 boys living on my block, I was the only one who went to Catholic school, all the others went to public school. As we grew up they would one at a time, find a girl and be gone from the pack, till I was alone. Being married changed things fast, as I had a son 10 months later. and then another a year after that. As they grew up, I became very involved with what they did, always pushing them in the correct direction. So, sports were important, but not as much as camaraderie with their friends, and the Boy Scouts was the way. It was also very important that they became good Catholics, and I made certain that it happened by my example, making sure they saw in me a faith that was strong and true.When they were in their teens, I kept the pace and became involved in the CCD program at our local church. They didn’t go to Catholic school because their mother was against it, thinking that Scarsdale schools offered more, as then the boys would be mingling with a higher class people, so I agreed only to keep the peace. Actually mybboys didn’t like going there and said so! When they were old enough, I enrolled them into after school classes at (CCD)Confraternity of Christian Doctrine at our local church. In order to be involved and actually wanting to help, I joined, and started teaching the boys of my sons age, in the CCD program. Because I was very involved in many sports and Scouting, most boys knew me as “Mr Bianco” or, in many cases other than my sons, “Dad”. My classes in CCD were different than all the others, as I believed that to get the boys to keep being interested at that age to continue to follow our religion, I had to make them want to, not because they had to. My technique was different than what was followed by the priests and other CCD teachers. I started each class by sitting my boys in front of a basketball basket, and me standing in front of them. First I would have to quiet them down, cause they knew soon they be playing, and then begin the class, by saying out very very, loud… Who am I ? They all would yell as one.., You are Mr, Bianco!!! I would then yell again… And what do I believe? Their answer again loud and in unison was… You believe in God. We’d all clap and laugh and then I’d begin. No. not with the catechisms books that were supposed to be used by all, including me. I’d start with saying I believe in the Catholic Church and what it stands for. Then continue to tell how they should follow the 10 commandments and what each stood for. Not all at one time, but one for that day that I would expand on, telling them how I would and how I did act. This would go on for about a half hour and then I would say out loud”LET’S PLAY BASKETBALL” and that’s what we’d do! They learned two things…One about God, and the other how to have fun doing it. One day as I began my class at CCD, and without knowing, a priest was watching without us noticing him. We began in the same way and did so till we reached my beginning to talk about our religion. He came out of hiding and said out loud “STOP”. I turned and smilingly said hello Father Murphy. He came up to me and asked “What are you doing+? I replied, ” Teaching them about God and how our religion worked”. He said where are the catechism books and why aren’t they reading them and reciting them out loud? I said because I taught in a different and better way, as I knew what would work on boys their age whose thoughts at this time in their lives was not about religion. By making it fun, they learned at the same time. Being furious he said, “not in his school” and said that I would no longer be teaching CCD in his church. I couldn’t believe it, but he had control, so I turned to the boys and “It was fun wasn’t it”! They all yelled “YES MR BIANCO”. I never went back to that church or any other for that matter after that. My religion is just as strong, but it’s directed to a one on one with God Directly, a much better and surer way to true faith. I naturally told my sons they could either go or not go to CCD classes after that. I began to put more of my efforts into scouting in our town of Scarsdale, which by the way, held it’s meetings at the local protestant church!
As a foot note: As we now can all see, the Catholic church has fallen to a secondary level among Catholics’. It no longer can be strict, parishioners are moving away because of it. Even the Pope has lost his control and stature! Why? It’s my case millions times over!