Ken Bliss was an integral part of the soccer community in the Rochester area for nearly three decades as
a coach, administrator, and even a referee. He came upon the sport like so many of his era through the involvement of his son Brian. Like many fathers, his first coaching experience came without any experience when he became a parent coach in the Webster Soccer Association in 1975. Not wanting to fail his team, he began reading the "how to books" from the library and enlisted the help of those more knowledgeable of the game. As a result of his efforts, his youth teams won some league titles and state cups. However, winning for Ken was never the motive, rather only that he provide the right environment for the players to have fun. He was their coach, chauffer, first aid giver and snack provider along with his wife Harriett. They were truly the modern day soccer family.
Ken coached U-11 through U-16 Boys Travel Teams from 1975 through 1982. During that time frame, he also served on the Webster Soccer Association Board of Directors. After his son moved on from the youth ranks in the early 1980's, his passion stayed with the game and he moved into an administrative role as Registrar of the Rochester Area Youth Soccer League (RAYSL), the Boys’ Travel League. In 1987, Ken was elected President of the RAYSL and served in that capacity until 1992.
After leaving the RAYSL, Ken became involved with the struggling Monroe County Girls Soccer League (MCGSL), initially serving as its Vice President. The league needed a leader and once again Ken stepped up to the plate and was elected its President serving from 1996 – 2000. During that time, Ken saw the need to combine the RAYSL and MCGSL and led the effort to make that happen with the formation of the Rochester District Youth Soccer League (RDYSL). Ken was elected its first President and served the league in that capacity from 2001 – 2002.
It should be noted that during his long involvement with competitive soccer, Ken was a staunch supporter of the New York State West Youth Soccer Association (NYSWYSA) Olympic Development Program, a program in which his son Brian participated. It is also important to recognize Ken’s involvement with school soccer. He was the Girls’ Modified Soccer Coach at Ridgewood Junior High School from 1983 –1985, and the Boys’ Varsity Soccer Coach and Girls’ Varsity Soccer Coach at East Ridge High School from 1986-1989 and 1989-1992 respectively.
No one can deny that Ken’s commitment, dedication, organizational and leadership skills, and love of the game were critical factors in the tremendous growth, improvement and advancement of competitive soccer in the Rochester area. With his retirement from soccer in 2003, a true icon of the game was lost, but his legacy lives on in the RDYSL, the largest competitive league in the NYSWYSA.
Ken is a retired schoolteacher currently living in Webster, NY with his wife Harriett who served as a Registrar for the RAYSL, MCGSL and RDYSL during Ken’s tenure with those organizations.
Roger Best, the NYSWYSA Rochester District Commissioner, said this of Ken, “In the many years that I worked with Ken, he always had the best interests of the players in mind in everything that he did. No one ever worked harder or put more time into a volunteer position than Ken to ensure as many players as possible were afforded the opportunity to participate in the sport of soccer.”
2005 USYSA National Boys’ Coach of the Year Dick Beal said, “Ken and I always seemed to be on the same page as far as youth development was concerned. We talked many times about the need for an alternative to the Travel League for the elite player, but were never quite able to pull it off. However, he was a person who always had the best interests of the kids first and foremost in his mind and I have great respect for both him and his wife, Harriet."