Ankeney honored for helping grow soccer


XENIA — There’s an old country song called “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” written during a growth in the popularity of that genre.

If ever such a song would be written about John Ankeney, it would be called “I Was Soccer When Soccer Wasn’t Cool.”

The Beavercreek native is widely considered a founding father of sport in the Beavercreek and adjoining areas and he was rewarded for his efforts by posthumously receiving the E.J. Nutter Award May 3 during the county’s annual report to the community.

The Nutter Award is given to honor and recognize people who have distinguished themselves and brought benefit to Greene County while keeping in line with the E.J. Nutter tradition. Nutter was a local businessman who always gave back to the area.

Ankeney, who died Sept. 3, 2023, has been giving back to the community since 1975, when he created the Beavercreek Soccer Association, an organization that now supports 2,500 players on 74 competitive teams and 100 recreational teams, representing more than 50 towns and cities in southwest Ohio.

His name is also on the highly regarded soccer complex on Orchard Lane in Beavercreek, which can be filled with 22 full-sized fields spread across 80 acres. The John Ankney Soccer Complex has been named one of the top sports facilities in America by Sports Management Magazine and annually hosts a plethora of state, regional, and national tournaments, in addition to the BSA’s Creek Classic.

Ankeney’s daughter, Marcy Wright, fought back tears as Ankeney’s résumé was being read by County Commissioner Dick Gould.

“(It means) a great deal since his passing that he was recognized for his sacrifice, his giving, his kindheartedness, his commitment to the Beavercreek community,” she said. “I was thrilled that he actually won another award. He has quite a few.”

And they are all likely based on the same theme.

“You do for your family, you do for your community, you volunteer, you give your time,” Wright said of her father’s credo. It was just the love of his family and his community and he wanted to do more.”

He actually did plenty.

In addition to starting the BSA, Ankeney dedicated countless other hours to soccer. He coached at every level of the sport, while providing soccer opportunities for disadvantaged youth as well. He worked on the fields, attended the events, and always put the players first.

“He wanted to make sure that the youth had somewhere to go other than sitting around doing nothing,” Wright said. “He wanted a place where people could come together and do something very functional, get exercise and practice, practice, practice. That’s all I can hear him saying … practice.”

US Youth Soccer named Ankeney the 2017 Administrator of the Year, an award that honors the extraordinary accomplishments in soccer administration during a career. One of those accomplishments stands out the most, according to Wright.

“He was definitely most proud of when Germany had a soccer team that came to the tournament (in Beavercreek),” she said. “That was one his greatest highlights, is that he went global.”

Beavercreek High School boys soccer coach Jason Guiliano said almost every individual who has played for the school, including himself in his youth, at one point likely played in a program Ankeney helped create.

“As I look back on where we’re at today, a lot of it could never have been where it was had it not been for John,” Guiliano previously told the Gazette.

And not once did Ankeney ever regret a second he spent advocating for the sport.

“He really enjoyed every moment,” Wright said. “So did my mother (Carol). Definitely without her, he wouldn’t have been the man he was.”

And without Ankeney, soccer might not be what it is.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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