From left to right: Sal Amorello, Fritz Casimir, LIJSL President Addie Mattei-Iaia, LIJSL Hall of Fame Chairperson Peter Collins, Arlene Cirella and Gregg Knight
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 11, 2014-Soccermania was in full force as approximately 10,000 soccer players, coaches, referees and fans flocked to the Huntington Hilton this past weekend for the 32nd Annual Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Convention. One of the highlights of this big event was the induction of four selfless volunteers into the LIJSL Hall of Fame during the Annual Awards Dinner on Friday night, March 7. Sal Amorello of Brentwood, Fritz Casimir of Laurelton, Melville’s Arlene Cirella and Gregg Knight of Merrick were honored:
Sal Amorello began his soccer career in 1979 as both a volunteer coach and referee in the Brentwood Soccer Club. He ran the club’s concession stand for many years. Sal was one of the founders of the Father’s Day Citibank Intramural Tournament and volunteered as tournament director for 15 years. With the LIJSL, Sal helped establish Liberty Cup USA at Mitchel Athletic Complex in 1990 and served as tournament director for four years. He helped organize sister tournaments, Liberty Cup Ireland and Liberty Cup Moscow, and was an eyewitness to history in August 1991 when Liberty Cup Moscow truly earned its name during the unsuccessful coup attempt to unseat Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that occurred while the games were being played. Also during the 1990’s, he was part of the crew for the LIJSL’s “Soccer Zone” TV show and assisted in the development of a LIJSL skills tournament sponsored by Chiquita Bananas. He volunteered on the staff of the Chase Cup and then, after it received a new sponsor, the Waldbaum’s Challenge. Sal also volunteered on the LIJSL Convention Committee for 25 years, served as Co-Director for five years and volunteered as the LIJSL’s representative to the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA).
Fritz Casimir has served as Director of Kickers Youth Sports Association of Southeast Queens and the Cambria Heights/Laurelton Soccer Club. Since these organization’s inception in 1980 and under Fritz’s guidance, they have successfully provided recreational, educational and mentoring needs of thousands of kids living a short corner kick from Kennedy Airport. They have served as a conduit to college education and been the recipient of New York City Council Resolutions in 1986, 2000 and 2005. Outside of soccer, the Laurelton resident is co-organizer and charter member of American Legion Post 1946, an active member of the 369th Veterans Association, former President of the Laurelton Lions Club and Chairperson of the Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, one of the largest events in southeast Queens. Plus Fritz somehow finds the time to also volunteer for Community Planning Board 13, Haitian-American United for Progress, the Federation of Laurelton Blocks Association, 225th Street Blocks Association and Southeast Queens Junior Olympics.
Arlene Cirella began her soccer journey in the early 1970’s, at the start of the youth soccer boom, when she became an intramural coach for the Huntington Boys Club (HBC). She later moved on to become a HBC travel team coach. In 1979, Arlene served on the committee that established the LIJSL Special Children’s Program as the LIJSL became the first organized soccer league in the world to start a program during a time when Special Children playing sports is not as accepted as it is today. Arlene then became the Chairperson of the LIJSL Scholarship Committee and graciously donated the use of her Melville restaurant, Cirella’s, for the LIJSL Scholarship Lunch. Arlene also volunteered on the LIJSL Convention Committee, Liberty Cup USA Committee plus served as Chase Cup coordinator and LIJSL Select Program girls’ administrator. She travelled to the LIJSL Convention from Florida, where she now lives.
“I was one of the LIJSL’s first coaches,” she stated at her induction. “I cannot believe how the LIJSL has grown. Look at how many people are here! You should be tremendously proud of how soccer has grown.”
Gregg Knight was an intramural coach in the Merrick Police Athletic League (PAL) from 1987 to 1994 and was a travel team coach with the Merrick Magic from 1994 to 2002. The Magic were one of the top teams in New York during the 1990’s, winning Eastern New York’s State Open Cup twice plus the Region 1 Premier League and Tampa Bay Sun Bowl. Gregg served as President of Merrick PAL for a decade, starting their Sportsmanship Program and writing a code of conduct for parents and players that still appears on all PAL applications today. He was a Trustee on the LIJSL Board of Directors from 2000 to 2008 and volunteered on the committees for Player Arbitration, the Waldbaum’s Challenge and the LIJSL Convention. Gregg served as Vice President of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association from 2002 to 2009 and continues as a member of the State Cup Committee to this day. If all that was not enough, he was also a member of Eastern New York’s Premier League Committee from 2006 to 2011, serving as its Director in 2009.
Congratulations to these four worthy inductees!
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.