Playing with heart: Zionsville Youth Soccer Association adds lifesaving defibrillators to sports complex


Zionsville Youth Soccer Association has grown exponentially since it was founded in 1979. Although based in Boone County, the organization attracts players and families from across the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Noblesville, Lebanon, Avon and Brownsburg and even as far as West Lafayette.

With that growth, the organization has also adjusted its risk management program to include everything from concussion protocols to anti-bullying efforts. One area ZYSA focused on this year was acquiring additional automated external defibrillators.

zionsville AED at fields
Two of the new AEDs were donated and are available 24/7 at the facility. (Photo by Marney Simon)

In May, ZYSA added readily accessible AEDs to their facility at 5616 S. CR 700 E. in Whitestown. Two of the new $1,500 units were donated, one by Susan and Pierre Twer from Heart Reach Medical and the other by Dr. Julie Clary, a cardiologist with IU Health and a ZYSA parent. The organization paid for a third defibrillator, in addition to the two already onsite, for a total of five AEDs.

“We have a lot of doctors and nurses within our organization, and we have had two AED machines in our complex. They’ve always been locked up in buildings,” Director of Operations Dan Kapsalis said. “We just wanted to come up with a new emergency plan, reevaluate that plan and then put the AED machines outdoors so they can be accessible at any time. We never know; we’ve got grandparents out there watching kids, it’s hot, all kinds of things can go wrong. We just wanted to put the measures in to keep our players and our families safe if anything was to happen.”

Kapsalis said the soccer program, which includes a competitive travel program and a recreation program, has about 2,000 participants across every level. That means on any given weekend, the facility can see thousands of visitors. In summer, the organization hosts soccer camps. The organization also hosts an adult league for people 19 and over, an urban development program and a team for amputees.

The outdoor AEDs are in ventilated and temperature-controlled cabinets known as SaveStations. According to the organization, placing AEDs in outdoor SaveStations significantly increases the chance of survival during a cardiac emergency by making the lifesaving devices accessible to anyone at any time.

“Incidents can happen all the time, so we just wanted to be more prepared. So, this is more just letting our membership know we’re taking the steps to keep you safe and keep your kids safe and keep your families safe,” Kapsalis said. “We want you to feel comfortable when you come to our park, and now we have two that are accessible outside, 24/7. It enhances our risk management program, and it enhances our emergency plan and creates more comfort.”

The AEDs were installed and ready for use last month.

“Simply stated, AEDs save lives,” Clary said. “I applaud ZYSA for making lifesaving AEDs rapidly accessible at the Zionsville Youth Soccer Association fields and training building. All youth sports facilities should be equipped to handle life-threatening heart emergencies through accessible AEDs, comprehensive training and a well-defined emergency response plan. These actions can be the difference between tragedy on the field and a young athlete returning home to their family. I hope ZYSA can be a model for other organizations in our communities.”

Kapsalis said the hope is for the AEDs to go unused but recognized that medical emergencies are a reality. Organizers said there have been medical incidents in the past: A woman attending an event in 2023 had a seizure, and they have had other minor medical emergencies such as visitors suffering from presumed heat stroke or other issues.

“We hope the money we just spent never has to come to fruition. That’s what you hope, but at least now we’re prepared,” he said. “There’s a lot more awareness, so we’ve taken the measures to provide a safe environment for our families.”

zionsville youth soccer boys
The Zionsville Youth Soccer Association is open to anyone interested in playing soccer, with leagues for children and adults. (Photo courtesy of Zionsville Youth Soccer Association)


Founded 45 years ago, the Zionsville Youth Soccer Club is more than what its name suggests.

“We are more than just a soccer organization,” Director of Operations Dan Kapsalis said. “We’re a youth development organization committed to allowing kids to grow as a player and as a person through the sport of soccer, at every level. We’re a lot about overall development as well. Not just teaching them how to play the game, but we’re teaching sportsmanship and teamwork and respect and perseverance. All those life lessons.”

Kapsalis said that while teams are competitive, those competitive results are viewed by the organization as a byproduct of overall development.

“We’re committed to being a valuable contributor to the development of and opportunities for children and adults,” Sporting Director Rob Klatte said. “When we talk about being full service, we’ve got programming that starts at 3-years-old with the little kickers program, and you can be a 60-year-old and come out and play in our adult leagues. Our goal is to be a valuable contributor to the community.”

Registration for the fall season for this year’s recreational soccer leagues is now open for children ages 5 to 18. Families do not have to live in Zionsville or Whitestown to participate.

“If you want to play, we have a program for you,” Kapsalis said.

Register for programs at Learn more about all the offerings of the Zionsville Youth Soccer Association at