ENCINITAS — For almost 15 years Juli Veee has been a fixture in the local soccer community. Although the longtime director of coaching at the Encinitas Soccer League announced his retirement earlier this month, he will continue to play an integral role in the club’s future development.
Ingram Losner, vice president of the club’s competitive program, said Veee will be missed. “He’s going to transition into the role of an ambassador for the program,” he said.
Veee said he will continue to advise the leadership of the board of directors as the club grows. “I support them 100 percent,” he said. “Ingram and Rick have been very supportive of me over the years and this is more like a family, a real community, than just a job. They’ve done an incredible job with the club and it’s all volunteer.”
The nonprofit soccer league has served more than 1,500 youth in the city and surrounding areas by providing a place to play the sport in a structured and fun atmosphere. “We provide a soccer home for over 1,000 kids each weekend in addition to clinics and camps,” Rick Lochner, the league’s president, said.
While the board focuses on a replacement for Veee, it maintains a strong commitment to enriching the lives of families in the area. “We’re very much a community club.” Losner said. “We are looking for someone with that same vision and commitment to the community and upholding the highest standards.”
Losner said the board has already received some very impressive resumes. “We are looking to hire and have someone in place by early to mid-October (of this year),” he said.
Veee is assisting in the hiring process and likes what he sees in the prospects for his successor so far. “Running the day to day operations of the club is a year-round job,” he said. “It belongs to someone from a younger generation.”
Veee said he has enjoyed his tenure as the face of Encinitas soccer. “It was a delight to meet thousands of people over the years,” he said. “I’ll have a 26-year-old man come up to me and say ‘Don’t you remember me? You coached me when I was 10.’ Then you remember how old you really are,” Veee said with a laugh.
Veee emphasized the importance of developing soccer players slowly. “It (sports) has become too competitive, too early,” he said. “By the time the kid is a teenager and should be feeling the spark he’s already burned out.” Yet, Veee said the family atmosphere of the Encinitas club overcomes the societal propensity to “compete at all costs.”
The Hungarian-born Veee was the first soccer player to be inducted into the San Diego Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1997. His soccer career spans several decades and includes stints as a player in professional clubs in Hungary, France, Belgium and the United States. Veee won five championships and three Most Valuable Player titles with the then-leading professional club, the San Diego Sockers.
In addition to his duties as an advisor for the league, Veee will continue to actively coach a team and focus more energy on his artistic pursuits. He is a renowned painter whose work has been exhibited in galleries in San Diego, Beverly Hills and New Mexico.
“I have a very soft spot in my heart for Encinitas soccer,” Veee said. “We’ve grown up together.”