March 6, 2015

If it’s March, that must mean that the MLS season cannot be far away. The league kicks off its 20th season this weekend, and the curtain-raiser has the Chicago Fire traveling to California to take on defending MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy on Friday night.

The Fire’s charitable arm, the Chicago Fire Foundation, held its annual Kickoff Luncheon last Monday, and the Byki and their supporters were there, as usual. The Byki have attended this terrific event for 16 consecutive years.

On Monday, the Byki ate lunch with new/old Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch. After being unceremoniously dumped by the Fire thanks to the stupidity of then-coach Carlos de los Cobos, Busch returned to the Fire after his contract in San Jose expired at the end of the 2014 season. After going through the MLS Re-Entry Draft unselected, Busch became the equivalent of a free agent and fielded offers from several teams before responding to the recruiting pitch of Fire boss Frank Yallop. The move reunited the pair; Busch was the goalkeeper for the Quakes when Yallop was in charge there.

As expected, Busch was candid with answers to questions tossed out by the Byki during lunch. He also revealed that he started up a side business in preparation for life after MLS. Busch is a principal at High Performance Goalkeeping, who manufacture goalkeeping gloves. Busch says that his gloves are similar in quality to the ones sold by the big-name suppliers. All keeper gloves worldwide are manufactured in three factories in India. The key difference with HGP gloves is that they cost a lot less than those sold by the big boys.

Busch wants Byki goalkeepers to wear HGP gloves and provided the club with an incentive. Visit and enter “buschy” in the Coupon Code and receive 10% off!

October 4, 2014

Styling and profiling! Over 40 goalkeeper James Vlahakis is always a step ahead when it comes to soccer fashion. The Chicago Fire unveiled their new third kit recently and they will be debuting their new look in their match on Sunday versus Montreal. James undoubtedly will be the first Byki player to show off the new shirt at Toyota Park.

Scarves up! Speaking of apparel, the Byki scarf is the club’s longstanding fashion accessory. Byki Prez George Gorecki traveled to the Pacific Northwest recently and brought his scarf to a Seattle Sounders match. Where is your next trip? Be sure to pack your Byki scarf and share the photos. Byki scarves have been all over the world. Check out previous Byki scarf pictures on our Facebook page:

April 4, 2014

The Byki are awaiting their league schedules for the outdoor season, but the off-the-field schedule is starting to fill up. This is a good time to mark your calendars.

Rick Bolesta, who aspires to be the goalkeeper for the Byki Over 48 Team, is hosting a pre-season party at his place on April 5. Everyone should have received the e-vite in their mailbox. The festivities begin at 6:30 PM. A wide range of quality beers and snacks have been promised. Also available will be limited-edition Byki beer glasses and scarves. Don’t forget to bring your wife or girlfriend. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, why not bring both?

The Byki return to Toyota Park for a fundraiser outing, as the Fire take on the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, June 1. Kickoff is at 3.00 and tickets are $28. Our group will be 100 strong, so we need everyone to get the word out to the soccer fans among your friends and family. Tickets are available right now. See George Gorecki this weekend for your tickets.

As an added bonus, kids from the Byki family will be on the field that day as members of the Fire Tunnel to greet the Fire (and boo the Galaxy) as the players walk out of the locker room. This fan experience is available to only the first 30 kids who order tickets and have paid for them. Order your tickets early!

The Byki will be hosting their annual Golf Outing on Saturday, August 9. We’ll be at White Pines in Bensenville this year. Save the date! Details will be arriving soon.

March 7, 2014

The 2014 MLS season kicks off this weekend and the Chicago Fire held their annual Kickoff Luncheon last Tuesday. A group of Byki and friends were in attendance, continuing a run of 15 consecutive years of participation. The event benefits the Chicago Fire Foundation, which is the club’s charitable organization.

The Byki had the good fortune of eating lunch with new Fire skipper Frank Yallop. After the Fire failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs for the third time in the last four years, the man upstairs decided to clean house. Coach Frank Klopas was shown the door, and a significant shake-up in the front office ensued. The end result was a stream-lined structure, leaving Yallop with the final say in all player personnel decisions.

The Byki peppered the new gaffer with their usual barrage of questions, and most of these were related to the current roster, as well as questions about potential future acquisitions. For now, Yallop appears satisfied with his player pool, but he acknowledged that the messy salary cap situation left to him by his predecessors has placed him in a bind at present. Several guaranteed contracts will come off the books at the end of this season and Yallop expects to shape the team in optimal fashion from that point forward.

The Fire also used the event to debut their new primary uniforms and the reaction to the new kit was mixed. The combination of blue and red on the front of the shirt is a significant departure from the traditional red shirt with a white band across the chest. The purists in the audience expressed their dissatisfaction with catcalls and outright booing as the players displayed their new threads.

Over 40 goalieJames Vlahakis and former Byki Treasurer Matt Treter were eager to be the cool kids on the block and bought the new shirt on the spot. “Coach Yallop asked me what I thought of the new jersey,” said Byki PrezGeorge Gorecki. “I told him that I didn’t like it because it broke with tradition too much. But I added that if he brings us MLS Cup this year, I won’t care what the Fire are wearing.”

December 27, 2013

This is the busy time of year for Santa Claus and the Byki have had an annual influence on old St Nick. Byki Legacy Player Fleet Neighbors (1988-2011) has been dressing up as Santa Claus for years and he added Byki flair for 2013, showing off a Byki scarf, both on himself and his reindeer helper.

Fleet spent his working days toiling for the CTA and one of his fun activities at Christmastime was taking part in the Holiday Train, which runs in November and December. Six of seven train cars are traditional passenger cars adorned with seasonal decorations and bright lights. The interiors of these cars are decked out with multi-color lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. Santa rides on an open-air flatcar and waves from his sleigh to the passengers coming aboard.

Back in the day, transforming the athletic Fleet into a rotund Santa was a bit of a project. But, over time, Fleet has “grown into the role,” if you know what we mean.

September 7, 2013

Here are some scenes from the Byki Golf Outing and 30th Anniversary Party, held on August 17. Check the Byki Facebook page for more photos.

Byki who were there on Day 1, June 10, 1983: (L to R): Stef Wiecek, Kris Zadlo, Edi Pinkowski, George Gorecki, Mark Sokolowski.

Top golfers on the day were in Marrtin Herholdt's (L) foursome.

Check out Dave Safford's impeccable form, and those awesome Rush souvenier socks.

Thumbs up to Dave Safford for having the most creative balls.

Stylish Mitch Posada shows off his raffle prize.

Original Byki Mark Sokolowski and Stef Wiecek, belly up to the bar.

August 17, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Stef Wiecek

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Position: All but goalkeeper

Joined the Byki in: 1983, played through 2008

Current location: Roselle, IL

Occupation: Lead Developer – Manager Client/Server Applications

Games played for the Byki: 574

Byki accomplishments: Vice President, Board Member, Coach.

Previous clubs: Liths SC, Lake Zurich Aces

How I joined the Byki: Original member of the club.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Coaching the Byki to successive third-, second- and first-place finishes in 1987-88. Scoring a goal against Wisla.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, Bolton

Name: Stefan Buchhave Søgaard(Soegaard)

Hometown: Aalborg, Denmark

Position: Midfielder, defender

Joined the Byki in: 2011, last played in 2013

Current location: Beijing, China

Occupation: Business Development Manager in the transportation industry

Games played for the Byki: 32

Byki accomplishments: The player who has been booked most matches in a row

Previous clubs: Vejgaard Boldspilsklub, Aalborg Chang, AaB of 1885, Tjørring IF, Herning Fremad, Hadsten SK, Hornbæk SF

How I joined the Byki: Had the club recommended by Byki players Martin Herholdt (2011- present) and Kristian Buur (2011- present)

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Being part of the Byki squad in a time with failing results, you always learn from defeats and eventually you will grow as a team. This happened in our last game of the 2012 season, when we beat FC Uta 4:0 and we finally played a great game and displayed some excellent soccer.

Clubs I like: Manchester United, Brøndby IF, Dortmund

August 10, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Kris Zadlo

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Position: Midfielder

Joined the Byki in: 1983, currently playing for Over 40 Team

Current location: River Forest, IL

Occupation: Executive

Games played for the Byki: 477

Previous clubs: Only the Byki, but I played in high school and college

How I joined the Byki: Recruited by the Byki from their first opponent

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: I have a lot of favorite moments, but the best by far was the first-ever game when the Byki played the Szczeniaki (Polish for “punks”). We were all friends but the trash talking between the two groups (Byki vs Szczeniaki) was incessant and it kept increasing the closer we got to the game. Come game time, I remember the Byki taking the field with these nice, fancy, new jerseys. They were all organized, doing their pre-game drills. On the other side, we had with these simple red t-shirts with an ironed-on number (that barely stuck to the shirt) and we were trying to figure who was going to play what position. Despite our appearance and disorganization, we still managed to frustrate the Byki into a 1:1 tie. Afterwards, we all went out and celebrated. The best part of being a Byk is not only the soccer but the camaraderie after the games and it started with that first game.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, US National Team

June 28, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Matt Treter

Hometown: Erie, PA

Position: Midfield when young and playing on the young teams, defender when old and playing on the young teams, midfield again when old and playing on the old teams.

Joined the Byki in: 1994, played through 2010

Current location: Sugar Grove, IL

Occupation: Investment Advisor

Games played for the Byki: 471

Byki accomplishments: Served as Treasurer for 12 years, currently maintain the Byki website, and successfully retrieved our shipment of 20th anniversary scarves from the bowels of the customs warehouse at O’Hare Airport.

Previous clubs: None.

How I joined the Byki: Blame Manou Chahmirzadi (Byki 1993-2005).

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: 1998, after winning the NSL 2nd Division Championship and earning our first promotion in the NSL. It marked such an accomplishment for the club after moving from the Odeum rec leagues. My other favorite moment was while drinking beer at the Essen Haus in Madison, WI, where the Byki were playing in an indoor tournament. We got to watch intoxicated, volleyball-playing youths line up to rub Brent Steffen’s (Byki 1998-2002) impressive beer belly for good luck and healing powers. Brent gladly obliged all who wanted to caress his midsection.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, Chelsea, Ajax

July 20, 2013

It was Byki Day at Toyota Park recently when a group of Byki and friends had a chance to see the Chicago Fire take on Sporting Kansas City. The group of about 60 people included Byki players, families and friends. Many folks started the day with a pre-game tailgate in the Toyota Park parking lot, followed by field-level access to watch the teams warm up. It was a terrific opportunity to watch the pros go through their gameday preparations.

Maciek Kekus brought his wife and young son to the game. “We had a lot of fun, especially my three-year-old son. That was his first visit to Toyota Park. He liked it at all. Now he wants to go with me to any soccer game, even for practice,” Maciek said afterwards.

He also provided some pointed commentary about the action on the field. “I haven't been to a Fire game for a while and I have to say that I'm a little disappointed by the level of Fire skills, especially the guy with #4 on his jersey [Bakary Soumare]. He sucks; the Byki have better defenders, seriously.”

Eric Tower was there also, with two kids in tow. Eric has never been the biggest fan of the MLS brand of soccer, but it seems that the Fire are winning him over, albeit slowly. He’s attended more games in 2013 than any other season so far.

Afterwards, he was interviewed by a reporter from some Arabic TV station. “The reporter wanted to know why Chicago loves the Fire for their international audience," said Eric. “They were looking for the most handsome, intelligent, rabid and supportive fans, so they obviously made the right choice by picking me. Sadly, they did not ask my name, so the tidal wave of communication from burka-clad admirers that you might otherwise expect will probably not materialize.”

When the reporter asked him how long he has been a Fire fan, Eric replied. “I lived in Washington DC previously and used to support United, back in the day when they killed everyone. I started supporting Fire at some point after I moved to Chicago, although I sort of forgot to mention that I really only started supporting the Fire a few weeks ago, when my son started getting into them, and I only bought some tickets a few weeks ago as well.”

Eric overwhelmed the interviewer when he was asked what is it about the Fire that makes people come to the game. “I mentioned that Chicago was a multiethnic city with people from Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and we all love to share our common identity by cheering for the Fire. The guy loved that. I practically broke down in tears, but managed to restrain myself using my iron willpower.”

June 28, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Joe Gambino

Hometown: Oswego, IL

Position: Forward, played every position on the field

Joined the Byki in: 1999

Current location: Oswego, IL

Occupation: Manager at Zeppe’s Italian Market & Transportation Expert at Innovative Transport Solutions

Games played for the Byki: 410

Byki accomplishments: Captain; Club Vice President; Head Coach for several Byki teams in NSL; two-time NSL Coach of the Year,

Previous clubs: Stars N Stripes, Arsenal, Fox Valley Kickers, Maroons, Green-White

How I joined the Byki: I tried out for the 1998 indoor team and didn't make the team. Manou Chahmirzadi (Byki 1993-2005) kept urging me to come out the following spring and the rest is history.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Seeing the Byki earn promotion in the NSL in 2006 and in 2009 was great. One of the more recent favorite playing moments was two seasons ago. The Blue Team was playing in the 1st Division and we came to the game very shorthanded. We played 9 vs 11, I had to play in the goal. The guys played their hearts out. Ari Pirillis (Byki 2006- ) was playing with a dislocated shoulder. We held it together, played great defense and won the game with two late goals. A very close second was the 2009 playoff game against the West Indies Jets. We were down, came back and brought the game to overtime and just destroyed them in overtime.

Clubs I like: Juventus

Name: Sergio Bertoncello

Hometown: Quilmes, Argentina

Position: Striker

Joined the Byki in: 1986, played through 2004

Current location: Bartlett, IL

Occupation: General Manager

Games played for the Byki: 457

Byki accomplishments: 345 career goals, 214 career assists (outdoor and indoor combined)

Previous clubs: Duo-Fast Blast

How I joined the Byki: Signed a contract as a free agent on a bar napkin at the Odeum

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: I have many wonderful memories, but playing a game at the Odeum naked while people at the bar watched was probably tops. And by the way, I wasn’t the only player naked.

Clubs I like: Racing (Argentina), Inter (Italy)

June 8, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Howard Hartenstein

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Position: Defender
Joined the Byki in: 1990, last played in 2010

Current location: Evanston, IL

Occupation: Architect/Construction Manager

Games played for the Byki: 432

Byki accomplishments: Coach of the 1998 NSL 2nd Division Champions, NSL 2nd Division Coach of the Year in 1998

Previous clubs: Lake Zurich Aces

How I joined the Byki: Met George Gorecki playing pick-up soccer games on the Northwestern University campus and managed to finagle an invitation to join the Byki.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: One of my favorite moments came during practice on the field in Elmhurst. A ball inadvertently got kicked into an adjacent back yard where a rather large dog had been let out by its owner. Artur Methoxha (Byki 1997-2000) was convinced that, being a dog person, he could retrieve the ball no problem. He calmly walked into the yard to collect the ball. As soon as he picked up the ball, the dog decided he was an unwanted intruder, and took off after him at top speed. Artur came sprinting back to the practice field, ball in hand, with the dog hot on his heels. He barely escaped with his backside intact.

One of my proudest moments came as coach of the Byki. During a 1999 State Cup Tournament Game against Legovia FC, a much more seasoned opponent, the Byki managed to push the match to overtime despite playing a significant portion of the game shorthanded.

Then of course, there is always Matt Treter (Byki 1993-2010) and Nutmeg Betty.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, FC Barcelona, Castel di Sangro, and the old Chicago Sting.

May 18, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Steven Pedlow

Hometown: Plymouth, MI

Position: Forward/Wing Midfielder/ Wingback

Joined the Byki in: 2002, currently playing for Over 40 Team

Current location: Orland Park, IL

Occupation: Statistician

Games played for the Byki: 289

Byki accomplishments: Election Committee (2003-04), Secretary (2005-09), Treasurer (2010-present), 2009 Over 40 PSLC champions

Previous clubs: Pilsen SC, Orland Park Pegasus

How I joined the Byki: While playing for Pegasus O-30 against a Byki team starting a game with 10 players, I was defending George Siepiora. (Byki 1991-2009) Because my playing time was dwindling at Pegasus, I asked George if the Byki were always short players, and if so, I would play for them. I spoke to Howard Hartenstein (Byki 1990-2010). It was too late in the season to switch clubs, but Howard set up a meeting with the Stare Byki FC president at the O-30 Championship game. I was really nervous to meet the PRESIDENT, but George told me to come to training!

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: In 2009, I was still playing for the O-30 Team, but I was helping the O-40 Team solidify things in the first year of their existence. It was such a fun team that I wanted to play exclusively for the O-40s in 2010. In that first magical season, we finished the regular season with eight straight wins and carried the win streak to eleven in the Cup before the Final. After a 3:3 tie with favorites St. Charles Celtics Blue, we lifted the trophy on penalty kicks.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, Plymouth Argyle, Saint Etienne, Roma, Valencia

May 18, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Vitaly Tsipris

Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine

Current Location: Round Lake, IL

Occupation: Systems Engineer at VMware, Inc.

Position: Forward/Left Wing/GK

Joined the Byki in: 1997, last played in 2009.

Games played for the Byki: 101

Byki accomplishments: Winning the NSL 2nd Division Championship in 1998

Previous clubs: The majority of my adult soccer life was spent playing for the Byki.

How I joined the Byki: I saw an ad or an online posting. I showed up for practice and the rest is history.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: By far, it was winning the NSL 2nd Division championship on a rainy, cold day against an Albanian team, KF Ulqin. I only got to play about five minutes in the match itself, but emotionally I felt like I played a season by watching and cheering on the sidelines! We were all cold, dirty and tired, but we were Champions!!!!!

As a distant second, it was our trips to indoor and outdoor tournaments in Madison. Who can forget the Essen House and Brent Steffen (Byki 1998 - 2000) drinking a college young-un into oblivion?!!

The third best memory is our 25th Anniversary! Everyone seemed to have a blast and it was a glorious moment in Byki history.

Clubs I like: Dynamo Kiev, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, and Barcelona.

Name: Eric Tower

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Position: Wherever anyone lets me play

Joined the Byki in: 1990, currently player-coach for Over 40 Team

Current location: LaGrange, IL

Occupation: Attorney

Games played for the Byki: 275

Byki accomplishments: Player-coach for the first Byki over 40 Team, who won the Cup in the PSLC Over 40 Division in 2009.

Previous clubs: many

How I joined the Byki: George Gorecki (Byki 1983-present) asked me to play one time after we got done playing pickup on Lakefill at Northwestern University. His mistake!

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Schooling Russ Haynes (Byki 1999-2011) time and again during practices, then having his father come up to me after a game and apologize for how fat and out of shape his son was. Watching Sven Dahlquist (Byki 1992-presenrt) and Russ in a battle to the death because Russ was bringing down the Byki. Listening to Mark Kramer (Byki 1990-98) and the waitress at the Odeum go at it. Busting Eddie Pinkowski’s (Byki 1983-91) chops. Busting Nick Elmkinssi’s (Byki 2004-present) chops. Creating advertising slogans for Fess Parker.

Clubs I like: The Byki

April 6, 2013

The Chicago Fire held their annual Kickoff Luncheon on March 5 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago and the Byki, as usual, were right in the middle of it. The Chicago area was socked by the worst snowstorm of the season, but it hardly dampened enthusiasm at the event, in which the Byki have taken part for the last 14 consecutive years.

The Byki were joined at their table for lunch by defender Arne Friedrich, who is in his second year with the club. Arne has enjoyed a stellar professional career, spending most of that time with his hometown club Hertha Berlin. He also has represented Germany 82 times, most recently at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Byki Over 40 goalkeeper James Vlahakis put a few god words into the right people to ensure that the Byki would be able to enjoy the pleasure of Arne’s company.

“I found Arne to be one of the most engaging and intelligent professional players I have ever encountered,” said Byki President George Gorecki. “An event like this provides a tremendous opportunity to learn about soccer and how it’s played at its highest levels. Arne took the time to answer all of our questions thoughtfully and in a detailed fashion.”

Over 40 players Eric Muehlbauer and Steven Pedlow joined in the fun at the luncheon. Original Byk Mark Sokolowski was also part of the club’s contingent, as well as several Byki supporters. All of the photos from the event can be found on the Byki Facebook page HERE.

It’s a new way to pay! The Byki are introducing a new process for the club’s members to pay their fees. In order to streamline the collection of club fees, the Byki will now accept electronic payment. Players who forget their checkbook will no longer have to worry. And there’s no need to bring large amounts of cash around either. A quick swipe of a credit card or debit card is all it takes. Once the transaction goes through, the system sends a receipt by text or by e-mail. It’s that easy!

It’s called The Square, a card reader that attaches to any smartphone. This new method of payment is available immediately. See George Gorecki and he’ll take you through the procedure.

March 1, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Marek Ciszewski

Hometown: Gdansk, Poland

Position: Midfield/Forward

Joined the Byki in: 1995, currently playing for First Team

Current location: West Chicago, IL

Occupation: Attorney/Investment Analyst

Games played for the Byki: 487

Byki accomplishments: 322 career goals, 150 assists (outdoor and indoor combined), named to the Top 25 Byki players of all time in 2008.

Previous clubs: Lechia Gdansk, East Leyden HS, DePaul University

How I joined the Byki: Thank you Dan Jedrzejowski!

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Byki championship in 1998; promotion in 2009 (and scoring a few goals in these).

Clubs I like: Manchester United, Lechia Gdansk

Name: Mark Kramer

Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

Position: Midfield

Joined the Byki in: 1989, last played in 1998

Current location: Mundelein, IL

Occupation: Accountant

Games played for the Byki: 155

Byki accomplishments: Antagonist

Previous clubs: Schwaben AC

How I joined the Byki: Doug Roth (Byki 1986-90 )brought me in.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Andy Chudzinski (Byki 1983-92 ) gave me his baseball card collection when he moved. That was in 1991. I still have them today.

Worst moment – Walking in Barb Olejniczak (Doug Roth’s old girlfriend) practicing her Polish dancing. It still sends shivers down my spine.

Clubs I like: “The Club” – Vail, CO; “Blarney Island” – Antioch, IL

February 14, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Doug Towsey

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Position: Defender

Joined the Byki: 1995, playing for the Over 40 Team

Current location: Palatine, IL

Profession: Wealth Management Advisor

Games played: 400

Byki Accomplishments: Part of two championship teams; coach of the Over 40 Team

Previous clubs: None

How I joined the Byki: Recruited by Mark Piotrowski (Byki1990-2005)

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Beating St. Charles Celtics in the 2009 Over 39 PSLC Championship Game

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire

Name: Manou Chahmirzadi

Hometown: Newport, RI

Position: Goalkeeper

Joined the Byki in: 1993, played through 2005

Current location: Batavia, IL

Occupation: Wine Importer, Also Ref High School & Travel Games, & Coach Travel Soccer

Games played for the Byki: 312

Byki accomplishments: Secretary, NSL 2nd Division Goalkeeper of the Year in 1998

Previous clubs: O’Brien’s Pub Newport, Starboard Tack

How I joined the Byki: Met Tommy Smerz (Byki 1987-93 ) on my honeymoon and the rest was history.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Stopping the fifth penalty kick in the NSL 2nd Division Championship game in 1998 and then watching Ted Snodgrass (Byki 1996-2002) put our fifth shot away for the win! Also, going with a bunch of the Byki to Detroit for World Cup matches in 1994.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Chicago Red Stars

February 7, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Dave Safford

Hometown: Woodridge, IL

Position: Defender

Joined the Byki in: April 2009, currently playing for Over 40 Team

Current location: Glen Ellyn, IL

Occupation: Custom Home Electronics

Games played for the Byki: 105

Byki accomplishments: Stopping goals, scoring goals (a couple), assisting goals (a few)

Previous clubs: Great Plains, United, Glen Ellyn Falcons, Outlanders, OP Tricycles (still current)

How I joined the Byki: Invited by a former teammate from Trikes- where have you been Jimmy?

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Dean Fukar’s final save in PK’s in our Over 39 Championship WIN!! After having played my ass off for 120 minutes, that was truly the icing on the sprain!

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Mainz, and Bayer Leverkusen

Name: Brian Wager

Hometown: Basildon, Essex, UK

Position: Midfield /Defender

Joined the Byki in: 1999, played through 2006

Current location: Northwich, Cheshire, UK

Occupation: Self Employed Delivery Driver

Games played for the Byki: 96

Byki accomplishments: Played on and coached, A Team, B Team and Over 30 Team

Previous clubs: CZ81, Ramsden FC, Rettendon Athletic

How I joined the Byki: I had recently moved to the Chicago area and was looking for a “proper” team to play for. I had been playing co-ed and couldn’t get used to the poor standard or playing with females! I was driving past Nike Park in Naperville, saw a decent game being played so went and asked about joining and turned up at the next practice – the rest is history!

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: So many to choose from (not all whilst playing): numerous social events, watching the Fire with the Byki, and attending the Fire pre-season luncheons. But my favorite would probably be nights at the Odeum – playing an early game, then hanging out in the bar with teammates, watching the remaining games whilst drinking and stealing Manou Chahmirzadi’s (Byki 1993- )pizza!

Clubs I like: Chelsea, Chicago Fire

January 24, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Jeff Samp

Hometown: Schiller Park, IL

Position: Defender-Midfield

Joined the Byki in: 1999, currently playing Over 30 Team

Current location: Mount Prospect, IL

Occupation: Account Manager-Transportation Logistics

Games played for the Byki: 170

Byki accomplishments: Named to the Top 25 Byki of all time; coached B Team

Previous clubs: Maroons USA

How I joined the Byki: Word of mouth that started with Marek Ciszewski (Byki 1995-present) via Chris Rose (Byki 1998-present).

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Numerous playoff appearances with the A Team. Social events for the club such as the 25th Anniversary party, hanging out with teammates upstairs at the Odeum after games for a beer.

Clubs I like: Arsenal

Name: Edi Pinkowski

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Position: Striker/Forward

Joined the Byki in: 1983 , played through 1991

Current location: Hinsdale, IL

Occupation: Currently pursuing master’s degree in Creative Writing

Games played for the Byki: 94

Byki accomplishments: Byki championship teams in 1987 and 1988. Honored with “Top 25 Byki Players of All-Time” selection.

Previous clubs: Lewis University, Liths SC

How I joined the Byki: Recruited by original Byki George Gorecki (Byki 1983-present) and Stef Wiecek (Byki 1983-2008).

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: There are far too many to single out, but there are clearly two most memorable moments: Playing soccer naked with nine other Byki at the Odeum after consuming yet another sea of beer. The second was that foreboding day at the Billy Goat Tavern when my smug gang of young bucks inspired George Gorecki, Stef Wiecek, and Mark Sokolowski to form Stare Byki.

Clubs I like: Chicago Sting, Chicago Fire

January 17, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Stare Byki FC. We’re kicking things off by introducing a new feature in BB called Meet The Byki. Profiles of current and former Byki will be presented. Everyone can get a chance to be familiar with current and former Byki.

Name: Sven Dahlquist

Hometown: Northbrook, IL

Position: Midfielder/Defender

Joined the Byki in: 1992, currently playing for Over 40 Team

Current location: Glenview, IL

Occupation: Architect

Games played for the Byki: 420

Byki accomplishments: Coach of B Team for three years.

Previous clubs: None

How I joined the Byki: Met George Gorecki playing pickup games on Sunday mornings at the lakefront by Northwestern University and he extended an invitation.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: While I have certainly enjoyed the accomplishments of the club, my favorite moments are centered around the friendships within the club over my 20+ years of playing. The Byki have become a valuable part of my life and most certainly one of the reasons I’m still playing at 45.

Clubs I like: Ajax, West Brom, Chicago Fire

Name: Mark Sokolowski

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Position: Midfielder (on the first Byki team), Forward (on the subsequent indoor teams)

Joined the Byki in: 1983, played through 1990.

Current location: Arlington Heights, IL

Occupation: Project Manager in External Affairs for AT&T

Games played for the Byki: 50

Byki accomplishments: A founding member, designer of first uniform and team logo, creator of Byki Bouncings, helped sign first non-Polish player to a contract, suggested reunion rematch game.

Previous clubs: Real FC, AAC Eagles, Loyola University.

How I joined the Byki: Stef Wiecek, George Gorecki and I were in The Billy Goat Tavern one afternoon when we decided to form a football club to shut up some wise-ass punks.

My favorite moment while playing for the Byki: Scoring a goal, when the opposing team’s goalkeeper came out of the box, and slid into my planted foot, breaking my ankle, and then going out drinking to celebrate the win.

Bringing a bag full of 45s (small vinyl records played in the first jukeboxes) as a gift to the owner of The Apple Pub (who sponsored the Byki in the mid 1980s) and then drinking Wuerzburger Dark on the house the rest of the night.

Clubs I like: Chicago Fire, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City.

December 21, 2012

The Premier Soccer League of Chicagoland held their winter meeting on December 12 and the Byki came home with hardware and a little bit of spending money. The Over 40 Team finished the season in third place in the Over 40 Green Division, narrowly missing out on the top two spots in the table, a position that would have earned them promotion back into the Blue Division. The League awarded the Byki $50 for ending up #3.

The trophy signifies a successful season of rebuilding and regrouping for the Over 40s, who struggled to compete against the top sides in the PSLC Over 40 Division in 2011. The slide in form bottomed out last year and the Byki had to deal with the frustration of relegation. Although the PSLC offered the Byki an opportunity to stay in the Blue Division when one of the teams promoted from Green in 2011 rejected their promotion, Byki coaches Eric Tower and Doug Towsey concluded that spending a season in the Green Division would be more beneficial than trying to regroup while playing in the top flight every week. Their reasoning was validated by the team’s consistent performances in 2012. A better sense of teamwork was evident in the 2012 squad, an element that was acutely absent in 2011. The Byki were in the hunt for promotion and were thwarted by a couple of untimely results against teams who were beneath them in the table.

The High-Low Game fundraiser is entering the home stretch as football season winds down. We’ve sold 196 tickets and we’re making a push to increase our profitability. The final phase of the High-Low Game is a raffle drawing for four cash prizes: $500, $250 and two of $125 each. Everyone who currently holds a ticket in the High-Low Game is automatically entered into the raffle and now there is an opportunity to buy tickets to get into just the raffle portion of the game. Tickets are just $5. If you know people who like games of chance, please encourage them to join in! Contact George Gorecki if you need tickets to sell. We are capping the number of tickets sold at 496, so the odds of winning one of the cash prizes are relatively good. Tickets can also be purchased on our website at: The money from every ticket that we sell goes directly to improve our bottom line.

September 8, 2012

The Byki had their first-ever golf outing on August 10, and from the looks of things, this could be an annual event. A total of 32 golfers hit the links at Maple Meadows in Addison on a breezy, sun-kissed day. The club had formed a Golf Committee last winter to organize this fundraiser, led by 13-year Byki veteran Jeff Samp. Jeff was joined by Ohad Garnon, Amit Khankari, Chris Koenig and Paul Mansur, who contributed in various ways to make the event a success.

Four sponsors were on board for the day. The North American Spine Society sponsored the beverage cart and their support was secured by Over 40 player Eric Muehlbauer. NASS has already been a Byki sponsor for the last two years and Eric’s effort to get them involved in the outing benefitted the club significantly. Eric also put together two foursomes to participate in the outing.

Byki Vice President Joe Gambino also stepped up and brought in a hole sponsorship from Zeppe’s Italian Market, which is the highly successful business that he owns.

Amit laid the groundwork for Golfsmith’s sponsorship, an in-kind donation of gift cards that every golfer received in their tee bag.

Don Robertson of Score Soccer, an ardent supporter of the Byki, donated two soccer gear bags for the post-golf raffle.

Prizes were awarded in three competitions: Best Score (foursome), Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin.

Many positive comments and constructive suggestions will help the Byki organize a better event in 2013. “The 32 golfers that came out today is our starting point,” said Jeff. “Next year, we have to double that.” The club netted over $900 from this event and the money will be used to help defray some of the expenses from the outdoor season.

More photos from the golf outing can be found on the Byki Facebook page HERE.

April 28, 2012

If it’s springtime, it must mean the start of the soccer season. All four Byki teams have been diligently preparing for their respective competitions. Additionally, spring marks the kickoff of the MLS season and this is always a big event for Byki players, alumni and fans who attend the Chicago Fire Foundation’s annual kickoff luncheon in downtown Chicago. The Byki have been attending this function since 2000.

A record crowd exceeding 800 people attended the luncheon, held in March just before the Fire’s opening match. The Byki made sure to get their application in early to be certain that a Fire player would sit at their table and join them for lunch. This year’s lucky player/victim was veteran fullback Gonzalo Segares.

Segares is described partially as a victim because of the loosely held belief that a player who sits with the Byki winds up leaving the Fire shortly thereafter. In 12 previous seasons, eight Fire players or coaches have departed the club within a year of sitting with the Byki. How long Segares will stick around is a question for the gods of fate.

The group had a nice chat with Gonzalo about the upcoming season and the club’s new signings. Byki Prez George Gorecki, never shy to express an opinion about the Fire, got into a pointed back-and-forth with Gonzalo about departed coach Carlos de los Cobos, who was canned in the middle of last season. Gonzalo, ever the gentleman, refused to throw his former boss under the bus. That didn’t sit well with George, who rattled off a list of the coach’s shortcomings.

After giving the Fire defender a piece of his mind, George set out on vacation to Colorado, where he was able to add to the Byki Scarf Picture collection. George brought his scarf to the Coors Brewery, the Wynkoop Brewery, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where he and his wife Laurie watched the Fire snooze their way through a 2:0 loss to the Colorado Rapids.

The Byki need more photos of you and your Byki scarf in exotic and fascinating places. Every time you prepare for a trip, make sure to pack your Byki scarf. Don’t have a scarf? No problem! We have lots of scarves, so get yours today.

December 30, 2011

It was an active Christmas season for the Byki in 2011. Red Team captain Mike Stamatinos got things rolling a couple of weeks before Christmas when he asked his teammates to help him with a holiday toy drive. “Over the last three years I've participated in an annual toy drive for the Dreams for Kids Foundation,” said Mike. “Did you know that one out of every four kids in Chicago lives in poverty? I heard that statistic and it made me physically ill.”

Mike decided to take action and encouraged the Byki to get involved. Even though the notice was short, once the word began filtering through e-mail boxes, the Byki stepped up to the plate admirably. Within a week, quite a few Byki brought in toys and Mike did the rest by taking the gifts to the foundation for distribution.

Just before Christmas, Mike reported the results of the toy collection. “We were able to collect over 150 toys,” Mike noted. “This means that many children will have something to smile about this holiday season! This could not have been accomplished without the help of the Byki.

The accompanying photo shows that Mike was not exaggerating about the volume of toys collected. “I am delighted that so many Byki responded to Mike’s call for help,” said George Gorecki. “I hope that we can get the word out earlier next year and bring in even more toys for such a worthy cause.”

Christmastime means it’s time for gifts. Many people undoubtedly received all kinds of mundane, forgettable things, like gift cards, or socks. Some Byki, however, got some very interesting stuff.

Over 40 player-coach Eric Muehlbauer visited China recently. “I visited the Beijing Confucius Temple and Imperial College,” said Eric. “I was curious to read his philosophy, but oddly, they did not have a bookstore. So my daughter got me a book for Christmas called the Teachings of Confucius.

“His real name was Kong fu tze; the name Confucius comes from Jesuit monks who westernized his name. I will look for lessons to apply on the field.”

Byki alumni were in the holiday news also. Wei Zhang and Russ Haynes were in town and made it a point to knock back a few pints with their teammates. Russ, who was no stranger to controversy both on and off the field in his Byki days, generated some interesting discussions when it was discovered that his head and face were covered with glitter. It wasn’t much of a controversy to Russ, who must think that it’s OK for an old man to maintain the fashion standards normally reserved for 12-year-old girls. Russ said that he and Wei had spent part of the afternoon shopping for hats for New Year’s Eve, and that his hat had quite a bit of glitter on it. Russ went on to point out that Wei’s hat, which looked like a lampshade that had been stolen from a redneck whorehouse, was meant to emphasize his Chinese heritage. If Wei actually believes this line of thinking, then he may have downed one too many pints that afternoon.

In any case, the evidence is there for all to see in the photo below. In the event that Russ and Wei (hopefully) lose their funky headgear by New Year’s Eve, they at least will have their Byki scarves to flaunt with pride all over town.

November 3, 2011

Some Byki have been traveling lately. Naturally, Byki scarves tend to follow Byki players on their travels.

Matt Treter attained what many might consider unreachable when he completed an Ironman Triathlon in September in Madison, Wis. The Ironman is a grueling test that pushes people to their physical and mental limits. The competition consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, followed up by a marathon. Matt completed the circuit in 12 hours, 52 minutes. His accomplishment is all the more remarkable considering that he ruptured his patellar tendon in an Over 30 match in 2005.

At the end of a very long day, a very happy and satisfied Matt showed off his Byki scarf.

Dan Jedrzejowski traveled to Poland with his wife and daughter recently. What better place for a scarf picture than in the capitol city of Warsaw? Little Sofia seems to be captivated by Daddy’s Byki scarf. In the background, we can see the new stadium being built in Warsaw for Euro 2012 next summer.

Dave Safford didn’t bring his Byki scarf to the last outdoor match for the Over 40 Team a couple of weeks ago, but he did bring a Byki Gift Card that he won by being a member of the team that won the 4 v 4 mini tournament at training not too long ago. George Gorecki, who organized the competition, decided to give the players a little something extra for winning. The Gift Card entitles the holder to the drink of his choice following a Byki practice or match. Dave cashed in, but his teammates didn’t make it easy for him.

Dean Fukar, who may hold the unofficial title of Loudest Byki Player, gave Dave a hard time because Dave chose not to drink beer with the rest of the boys. Instead, Dave prefers the extra zing of liquor after a hard 90 minutes on the field. Dean set up this photo, demanding that the waitress serve Dave his drink with a less-than-manly umbrella as an accessory.

August 13, 2011

The Byki have been backing the Chicago Fire ever since the club entered MLS in 1998. Several Byki have been season-ticket holders, have traveled to away matches, and have been ardent supporters of the Fire’s charity efforts, attending the annual season kickoff luncheon for the past 11 years.

Every once in a while, the Fire throw out a perk to their most loyal followers and the Byki were beneficiaries when the Fire recently hosted the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park. Matt Treter, a Byki veteran who served on the club’s Board from 1999 to 2010, was selected as the Season Ticket Holder of the Game and got the honor of executing the coin toss prior to kickoff. Because the Fire staff are aware of the Byki who sit together for every match, they encouraged Matt to invite Stef Wiecek and George Gorecki to participate in the festivities.

The Byki trio were granted an all-access field pass for the pre-game warm-up, which allowed them a field’s edge view of the Fire and Union going through their preparations prior to kickoff. “I have done the Sideline Watchers thing twice before,” said George. “It is truly an awesome close-up look at professional players doing their thing before the game. Seeing their athletic ability on display up close is a genuine thrill.”

Of course, no Byki player worth his salt goes very far without a Byki scarf, and our three heroes did not disappoint on this night. Not only did they get a nice photo op during warm-ups, the Byki scarf also made its way onto the field at the center spot for the coin toss.

“At first, it was not clear whether all three of us would be allowed to be on the field for the actual coin toss,” said George. “But the Fire staffers ushered us on with the national anthem singer, so Stef and I did not hesitate.” Matt was the one to do the honors, but there was a slight delay until a coin could be found. “One of the assistant referees asked whether any of us had a coin in our pockets,’ joked George. The coin was actually a disk, coated black on one side and white on the other, dubbed an Othello chip by Stef.

The second photo was a brilliant catch by the Fire’s photographer, as all eyes were intensely focused on the coin after Matt sent it airborne. At the end, everyone involved got caught in one last picture, with the Byki scarf flying in full prominence.

Several Byki and fans who were watching the match on TV saw the Byki three doing their thing. The photo showing Matt, George and Stef holding the Byki scarf appears on the Fire website on the season ticket holder page.

July 30, 2011

When the Byki hit the road, their scarves go along for the trip. Original Byk Mark Sokolowski visited the UK recently and snapped this photo at Stonehenge. A brilliant example of ancient construction, Stonehenge is the most recent occasion of a Byki scarf finding its way to one of the world’s great artifacts. The Kremlin and the Great Wall of China are two examples of interesting Byki scarf placement.

Byki President George Gorecki took a trip to the Pacific Northwest in July and he packed his scarf for the ride. He poses here outside of Jeld-Wen Field in Portland and Empire Field in Vancouver prior to MLS matches in those cities. George also took advantage of a fortunate coincidence at the Hyatt hotel in downtown Vancouver. “As my wife and I were having coffee in the Starbucks adjoining the hotel lobby, I spotted Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha sitting in a comfy chair,” said George, “I put two and two together once I remembered that the Crew were Vancouver’s opponent that night. Coach Warzycha was gracious enough to have this picture taken with me. We chatted for about five minutes and he is truly a nice fellow.”

Premier League juggernauts Manchester United rolled into Chicago last week to take on the Fire on their latest stop of their 2011 preseason tour of the US. The Fire made a game of it for about an hour when they held onto a 1:0 lead, but Man U’s obvious superiority eventually ruled the day and they came away 3:1 winners. Many Byki attended the match and here are the stories from a couple of them.

Red Team player and all-time club scoring leader Marek Ciszewski brought Little Marek with him to Soldier Field on Saturday. They enjoyed the match from a luxury box, but they had a rough time getting into the stadium, thanks to a sellout crowd in excess of 61,000. Marek and George exchanged text messages before the match. As Marek flouted his luxury box status, he also lamented being stuck in pre-game traffic. George, on the other hand, walked into Soldier Field easily because he chose taking the train over driving. As Marek stewed in traffic, George was drinking beer in the stadium. Ah, good times!

Over 40 player Eric Muehlbauer had fun at the game also. “I brought my son to the game and when [Wayne] Rooney went in I said, ‘He is awesome, it won’t be long now before he scores.’ A few minutes later, he did. My son just looked at me like, ‘How the heck did you know?!?!?’ “

“I had 12 tickets to the game – there were 3 Erics in our group. What are the odds of that??”

June 11, 2011

Did you know?

This is the first edition of “Did You Know,” an occasional feature in Byki Bouncings whose purpose is to provide fun facts about the club. Many players are new to the Byki and may not be aware of these details. And even Byki veterans may learn a thing or two.

Did You Know that the club is run by a Board of Directors?
These five people have the responsibility of making the organization operate to the best of its ability. They are:

President – George Gorecki (joined in 1983)
Vice President – Joe Gambino (joined in 1999)
Treasurer – Steven Pedlow (joined in 2003)
Secretary – Dan Jedrzejowski (joined in 1992)
Board Member – Gabi Dziekiewicz (joined in 2002)

Did You Know that the Board meet every six weeks to discuss the club’s business?
They go over the club’s finances, ideas for sponsorship and fundraising, and the status of the club’s four teams.

Did You Know that the Byki operate an online store? Just go to: We offer many items with the Byki logo, which are made and distributed by Café Press. A portion of every purchase through Café Press results in money coming back to the club. The Byki also offer soccer scarves and logo beer glasses, which we sell directly to our club’s members and supporters. Go to:

Did You Know that the Byki have an affiliate relationship with Eurosport?
If you order your soccer gear through Eurosport you can help the Byki receive a portion of what you spend there. All you have to do is go to the Byki website, click on the Eurosport logo and place your order as normal. If you are a Goal Club member, you can log in to your account after clicking through the Byki website and you will receive your normal Goal Club discount. But you must enter the Eurosport website using the Eurosport link on the Byki website in order for the Byki to get the commission.

Did You Know that the Byki have a Facebook page? The page provides timely information on games, practices and other Byki activities. The Byki Facebook page is also the best place to see Byki photos.

March 28, 2011

Chicago Fire Luncheon

The Chicago Fire kicked off the 2011 MLS season on March 19, hoping to rebound from last year’s disappointing campaign, one that ended with the Fire missing the playoffs for only the second time in the club’s history. A major housecleaning of the roster took place, with ten new players added to the club. With four points from their first two matches, the team have given their fans some hope that the results on the field will be better this season.

Although the Fire missed out on the post-season in 2010, the Byki kept intact their streak of attending the Fire’s annual Kickoff Luncheon. The Byki and their fans have now taken part in the event, which benefits the Chicago Fire Foundation, for 12 consecutive years.

The Fire Luncheon has always been great fun for the Byki, who buy out a table early in order to guarantee that a Fire player or coach will join them for lunch. The Byki have had some notable lunch partners in the past: Peter Nowak (three times), Jesse Marsch, and Chris Rolfe. Some players have even extended their graciousness by joining the Byki for a beer after the event. The Byki who had the good fortune to sit in and listen to Peter Nowak talk soccer in the Hilton hotel bar in 2000 had a treat that they will likely remember for quite a long time.

Before the event began, fans got a chance to mingle with the players in the lobby outside the ballroom. Original Byk Mark Sokolowski, who normally uses the pre-luncheon period to go into autograph-hound mode, changed course this time and instead pursued the bubbly and curvaceous Amy Freeze for a photo op. Amy, a sometime sideline reporter for Fire games that are broadcast locally, was the emcee for the luncheon.

Midfielder Baggio Husidic joined the Byki at this year’s luncheon and the youngster was an affable, if soft spoken, third-year pro. Baggio expressed confidence in the new players in the Fire roster, especially praising Uruguayan striker Diego Chaves, who has scored two goals in as many matches in the young season. Byki fan Laurie Gorecki was so impressed with Baggio’s scouting report that she added Chaves to her MLS fantasy team.

Laurie’s hubby, George, however, got into a spirited back-and-forth with Baggio regarding the type of player who could make an impact in MLS. When George suggested that German international striker Miroslav Klose could score 25 to 30 goals if he played in MLS, Baggio shot down that idea, claiming that big-name players usually don’t make an impact in MLS, citing recent examples like David Beckham and Thierry Henry. Baggio, a mere babe who has not yet reached 24 years of age, can be forgiven if he does not recall the MLS success of top international players like Carlos Valderrama and Hristo Stoichkov. Baggio, however, played alongside one such star player, Mexican legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco, so perhaps he should have known better about the impact of top-shelf foreign talent,.

In addition to the photos shown, here the complete set can be found at the Byki page on Facebook:

Baggio Husidic (center) shows off his new Byki scarf. The Byki (l to r) pose with their new pal: Steven Pedlow, Mark Sokolowski, George Gorecki, James Vlahakis, Stef Wiecek and Matt Treter.

Matt Treter, Mark Sokolowski, and George Gorecki introduce MLS Commissioner Don Garber to the joys of the Byki scarf.

The King snags a scarf picture with the vivacious Amy Freeze, who emceed the Fire Luncheon. 

February 28, 2011

Welcome to the Byki!

The Byki welcomed two new fans into the ranks recently and both wasted no time sporting Byki colors. Can’t start them too early, right?

Brynn Samp is Jeff and Kirstin’s second child, the little sister to crumb crusher Landon. Jeff reports that Brynn’s arrival brought as much relief as it did joy. Brynn was born less than 90 minutes after Jeff and Kirstin arrived at the hospital. “It was a far cry from the 18 hours at the hospital for Landon’s birth,” said Jeff.

Jonah is the first child for Josh and Jamie Taylor. Jonah sports a Byki scarf for the first time and couldn’t look happier. And who can blame him? He’s less than two weeks old, but Jonah is already at the pinnacle of fashion excellence. The rug rat’s vitals are 7 pounds, 11 ounces and 20 inches.

January 28, 2011

Tales of the Strange

The Facebook phenomenon is one of those things that are hard to fathom. How anyone could make money by providing a forum where people can reveal the most mundane of details about themselves is both brilliant and crazy. Yes, telling all of your friends that you just finished the last load of laundry is information that they absolutely have to have.

On the other hand, reading someone’s Facebook posts can oftentimes provide more information than any sane person would want. Take the case of Byki alumnus Brian Wager, who remains an ardent supporter of the club following a successful stint as a player and coach during the period 1999-2003. Most of Brian’s teammates remember him fondly. But after his latest post on Facebook, things may be changing.

Recently, Brian told us all about his fish pedicure. “Strange sensation but now have very smooth feet!” he wrote. He later went on to describe the process in a bit more detail. “You immerse your feet in a tank full of Garra ruffa fish for 15 minutes and they nibble off all the dead and damaged skin,” Brian said. “I'd highly recommend it.”

Garra ruffa, also known as the reddish log sucker, is widely used in spas in Europe and Asia. The practice is banned by many states in this country and some eager lawmakers are on the warpath. New York senator Jeffrey Klein told the The Times: “Fish pedicures are dirty and dangerous and a serious risk to one’s health. I want to put an end to this hazardous practice before it becomes the next big trend.” And like many trendy things, fish pedicures aren’t cheap. A spa in Virginia charges $50 for 30 minutes of foot nibbling.

Many Byki were aghast at the turn Brian had taken. Matt Treter became especially unglued. “I'm not sure what this is all about, or how such an upstanding Byk came to such a questionable end,” said Matt. “I'm sure David Beckham is to blame to some degree. Can former players lose their Byki status over stuff like this? Worse still, my wife Tifanie has become intrigued with this.” Oh boy, sounds like Brian’s revelation might cost Matt some dough. He then reached a rather succinct conclusion. “I questioned Brian's ‘orientation’ when he neglected to join the rest of the boys in Amsterdam for my bachelor party. I think this closes the case.”

Original Byki Mark Sokolowski and Stef Wiecek chimed in. “I remember reading about this procedure but I didn’t think Brian was that kind of trendy fashionista,” said Mark. “And how much does something like that cost? Perhaps he can afford an increase in Byki dues.”

According to Stef, danger is just around the corner: “You just know. At night. When the Garra ruffa fish are going to sleep. They have dreams. Big dreams. Dreams of growing up to be--Piranhas!” He added, “Brian needs to count his toes. I'll bet there's one missing.”
Liverpool supporter Russ Haynes, who butted heads with Brian on numerous occasions over Brian’s allegiance to Chelsea, had a totally different take. “ Sounds more like a KGB torture device by Abramovich to keep the Chelski faithful from revolting,” Russ noted. “Blues fans will always be revolting to me though, no matter how supple their feet are.”

December 17, 2010

'Tis the Season for Awards

The Byki have received a couple of nice awards in the last month. The trophy haul began in November at the NSL’s Annual Banquet. Klemens Kuqi won the 1st Division’s Golden Boot, with 16 goals for the season. It was the second consecutive season that a Byki player was top sniper in the NSL. In 2008, Maciek Kekus was the top scorer in the Over 30 Division.

In just two seasons with the Byki, Klemens has racked up some impressive stats. Since joining the Byki in spring of 2009 as a result of the merger between the Byki and Lemont FC, Klemens has scored 23 goals in 25 outdoor matches. He has been even more prolific indoors, with 21 goals in 16 matches. Those gaudy stats underline the significance of having a consistent goalscorer on a soccer team.

Byki President George Gorecki got into the act last weekend when he received a phone call from the Illinois State Soccer Association and got the news that he had been named their Manager of the Year for 2010. The ISSA is the ruling body for the sport in the state and the best competitive leagues are affiliated with them. Both leagues in which Byki teams currently compete, the NSL and the PSLC, are ISSA affiliates.

“I had no idea that this was coming or that I was even a candidate,” George said. “In any case, it’s an honor that I accept with great pride because it means that the important people who are in charge of the sport for the entire state recognize that the Byki are a top-shelf organization.

“I’ve been in charge of the Byki since the beginning and the fundamental principles of how we do things in our club have not changed much since the early days. The biggest difference is that we’re much bigger in 2010 than we were in 1983. But we still strive for excellence in everything we do.

“This award is also a tribute to our club’s coaches and Board members, without whose effort we could not possibly organize all of these players and teams.”

April 1, 2010

Chicago Fire Kickoff Luncheon

A big group of Byki attended the Chicago Fire Kickoff Luncheon last week, continuing an 11-year tradition. Steven Pedlow, Mark Sokolowski, Matt Treter, Vitaly Tsipris, Stef Wiecek, Kris Zadlo and George Gorecki came out in force and had an enjoyable afternoon rubbing elbows with members of the Fire and the Chicago soccer community. Pete Klem was there as well, hanging out with his cronies from Section 8.

Fire midfielder Logan Pause joined the Byki for lunch and was a great companion at the event. He talked about various aspects of the club, including adjusting to a new coach and his system and the situation surrounding the abrupt waiver of goalkeeper Jon Busch. Logan was a very good sport about answering questions from the inquisitive Byki, who lamented that the hour flew by far too quickly. As per tradition, the Byki invited their luncheon player to join them for a beer afterwards. “Logan’s eyes perked up when I told him about a having post-event beer,” said George. “I could tell that he wanted to go, but he preferred to lay low because he’s in training.”

The other Byki tradition is to give their luncheon player a Byki scarf. In the accompanying photos, Logan is proudly displaying his scarf. The group photo shows the Byki in attendance, as well as Fire player Wilman Conde (just to Logan’s left), who could not resist the easy photo op.

School is in session!

Byki coaches John Flood and George Gorecki attended the Adult Soccer Coaching Clinic run by the Illinois State Soccer Association in March. Joe Gambino, who coaches the Red Team, missed the course because of a conflict and will be attending the next course, scheduled for April. The ISSA is making a big push for coaches to get their certifications in order to become compliant with US Soccer regulations. The Federation has long required that coaches of adult amateur teams have a coaching license, but have only recently stepped up their efforts to get more coaches on board. Many NSL coaches and managers attended the three-day course, which was given by Aleks Mihailovic.

The Byki have been seeking an opportunity to send their coaches to training courses and the timing could not have been better, as the club faces the biggest competitive challenge in its history, with the Red Team entering Major Division competition. John and George passed with flying colors. After Joe receives his certificate, the club’s coaches will be better positioned to provide better quality at Byki training sessions.

January 21, 2010

An Evening Out for the Byki

The Byki Over 40 Team organized a party last Saturday to celebrate their 2009 PSLC championship. The Byki won the title in November and astute readers of BB will recall that the players were cavorting on the field with the trophy they won just moments after the triumphant penalty shootout. So why wait two months to have a party?

The delay was unavoidable, due to the way that the PSLC handles their trophies. By winning the post-season tournament, the Byki earned the right to hang on to the traveling trophy for the next year. The PSLC brought the trophies to the fields of the tournament finals purely for the purpose of photo ops. The League took back the trophy at the end of the day so that the Byki name could be added to the nameplate. The Byki were formally presented with the modified trophy, as well as a trophy for finishing in third place during the regular season, at the PSLC’s annual meeting in December. Eric Tower, Doug Towsey and George Gorecki represented the club at that meeting.

Unfortunately, the rest of the oldboys missed out on the fun. Eric came up with the idea of a party for the Over 40s so that everyone who contributed to the team’s success could bask in the glow of the hardware and drink a little beer at the same time. The party was held at Stonewood Ale House in Schaumburg and attracted 34 people to the celebration. A few photos appear on this page, but many more can be found on the Byki Facebook page at If you’re not a member of the Byki group on Facebook, just click on the request to join and you will be added.

It may seem like the dead of winter, but pre-season training for the 2010 outdoor campaign begins in just six weeks. It will be a busy season for the Over 40s. There’s a PSLC championship to defend and a first-ever appearance in the Illinois State Cup.

December 18, 2009

More Silverware for the Byki

The Byki Over 40 Team went undefeated from the middle of July to the PSLC final in November and they haven’t been heard from since. What gives, win a championship and go into hibernation?

Not exactly, it’s just that the indoor season will have a late start for the Over 40s. The PSLC tried to get an indoor competition off the ground for the first time this winter, but the idea failed miserably, as only a handful of teams across all Divisions chose the PSLC’s indoor plan. In the meantime, Over 40 player Brian Huck got the ball rolling at the St Charles Sportsplex. Sensing the need for Over 40 soccer at the Sportsplex, Brian got the interested parties together and it appears that a league is right around the corner after the holidays. All of the St Charles teams from the PSLC have shown interest and the sides have been playing a series of friendly matches at the Sportsplex in December.

On Wednesday, Eric Tower, Doug Towsey and George Gorecki attended the PSLC annual meeting and it was a big night for the Byki, who received their championship trophy. The Over 40s actually brought home two trophies; one for finishing in third place in the regular season and one for winning the playoffs. The championship trophy is a traveling trophy and the Byki will retain it only if they repeat their first-year success in 2010. “We plan on making a replica of this trophy,” said George. “We will have a lasting memory of our spectacular season.” With new players added to the Over 40 player pool, the Byki should have lots of reasons to feel confident about defending their title.

The PSLC showed lots of ambition when they made a strong push for their teams to participate in the Illinois State Cup. In order to get more teams involved, the PSLC decided to require the top three sides from each Division to compete in the Cup. The League will pay the entry fee for all of its teams that will play in the Cup. In addition to fighting for League honors, the Byki will also be seeking extra hardware on a whole new level of soccer.

Byki for Christmas

With Christmas less than a week away, many people may still have people on their holiday lists with no gift yet. Guess what, the Byki can help! Go to the Byki Store at and click on Shop. The Byki Online Shop takes you to the club’s Café Press store, which carries a wide range of Byki apparel and other items. You can also click on Other Byki Stuff, where you will find Byki scarves, beer glasses and patches. Get your Byki-branded materials today!

April 25, 2009

Chicago Fireworks for Kids Lunch

The Chicago Fire held their annual pre-season luncheon in downtown Chicago at the end of March and the Byki, naturally, were in the middle of the affair. The charitable arm of the Fire, now known as the Chicago Fire Foundation, has held this event as its primary fundraising function. This year’s luncheon marked the tenth year of participation by the Byki.

The highlight of the event is being able to eat lunch with a Fire player or coach. In past years, the Byki have the good fortune of having some terrific lunch partners, such as: Peter Nowak, Dema Kovalenko, Jesse Marsch, Kelly Gray, Floyd Franks, Chris Rolfe and Denis Hamlett. Some of these Fire luminaries have even gone out for a post-lunch beer with the Byki and have brought their buddies along. As a result, the Byki have gotten some additional MLS insights from Tom Soehn, Jim Curtin, and Henry Ring.

This year, the Byki had lunch with goalkeeper Jon Busch, who was candid, affable and very accommodating in answering a bevy of Byki questions. Busch joined the Fire in 2007 as the backup to Matt Pickens. When Pickens foolishly rejected the league’s offer to remain with the Fire and vainly sought to find his fortune in Europe, Busch was immediately elevated to the Fire’s Number 1 and led one of the stingiest defenses in MLS in 2008. Busch was named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008.

Byki Spring Fundraiser

Speaking of fundraising, the Byki are holding a fundraising event of their own on Friday, May 8 at Kincade’s, 950 W Armitage in Chicago. Led by the irrepressible John Flood, the club have booked a private room at the popular Lincoln Park watering hole. The cover charge for the night is $30 and allows for three hours of open bar, consisting of draft beer, wine well drinks and soda. For $1 per drink extra, beer snobs can upgrade to premium beer or upgrade to the good liquor.

How do the Byki benefit from this event? There are two ways. Firstly, Kincade’s will give the Byki $10 for every person who attends. Players’ dues for this season were calculated based on an anticipated minimum attendance of 100 people at this event. The second way we benefit is for individual players to be able to reduce their dues for the upcoming season. Byki players will earn an $8 credit towards their 2009 dues for every guest from outside the club whom they bring to the party. John will be keeping track that night.

Come out and support the club and have some fun at the same time. Bring your family and friends and they can help lower your dues. It’s a win-win! Everyone received the e-vite from John a few weeks ago. If you have not replied, take care of it right away!