ASHLAND - For Bob Kanuch, it has always been about the kids.
That's a mantra the retiring Ashland Soccer Association president has impressed upon the association's coaches for years and one he repeated several times Monday during his last meeting at the helm of the association board.
Whether he was setting up for night games, cheering on players from the sidelines or even celebrating wedding anniversaries on the pitch, Kanuch has poured 23 years of his life into Ashland Soccer Association. He has served as president for the past 12 of those years.
"It's all for the kids and the people out there," Kanuch said. "You can't make 3,800 people happy, but I tried the best that I could."
On behalf of Ashland United Soccer Club, Matt Timmons surprised Kanuch with a plaque in recognition of his many years of service.
The Ashland Soccer Association board also made a donation in honor of Kanuch and his wife, Tami, to DK's PlayZone, a playground being constructed at Ringler Field in memory of the late local soccer coach Danny Krispinsky.
Timmons said Kanuch has personally borne the weight of the program and sustained it through his leadership.
"It would be an understatement to say that he has been a pillar to our community," Timmons said of Kanuch. "Thousands of kids have had the opportunity to play soccer and build long lasting memories of great fun because of him."
Kanuch responded by saying leading the association has been a team effort.
"I want to thank everybody that has helped from the bottom of my heart," Kanuch said. "If it wasn't for you, it wouldn't happen."
Kanuch said while it is difficult to leave his position, he looks forward to remaining involved in Ashland Soccer Association in some capacity and to having more time to spend with his grandchildren.
Timmons, who was elected as the new ASA president Monday, charged ASA's future leaders with the duty to carry on Kanuch's "for the kids" mentality.
"This message is one he often repeated, and I hope it will live on as an indelible mark-- his footprint, as it were, on what we all should endeavor to attain not only in our recreation soccer league but also in other dimensions of our lives."