By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 13, 2013-Melville, Long Island resident Rocco Amoroso has been nominated by the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association to become a Life Member of U.S. Soccer, which is one of the most prestigious awards in American soccer. The ceremony for accepted Life Members takes place at U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting in Washington, DC from May 31 to June 2. The meeting will celebrate U.S. Soccer’s Centennial and Rocco has lived for 87 of those years, nearly all of which he has been active in soccer.
He stated, "This is something that I never expected. When I read the nomination letter, I was almost in tears at all the wonderful things written about me."
Rocco has touched so many lives in soccer that the letter nominating him took nearly a year to create. Youth President Richard Christiano and Senior President Sal Rapaglia wrote:
Rocco Amoroso has been inducted into the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) Hall of Fame and Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Hall of Fame. Rocco’s name is synonymous with sportsmanship and he puts his heart and soul into everything he does. Rocco played in New York’s Eastern District Soccer League in the post-World War II period. But his legacy in soccer came after he hung up his cleats for the last time.
The Sportsmanship Program of the LIJSL was the brainchild of Rocco in 1980 and is the first program of its kind––not just in the world of youth soccer, but in youth sports. Rocco had become concerned when he saw a lack of civility on the playing fields. As the LIJSL grew, there was a movement within the league to remain focused on its mission to develop mature teenagers and responsible citizens through the lessons of teamwork and Fair Play. The goal was to Build Character Through Soccer, a sentiment that comes from the Sportsmanship Program and continues to be the league’s slogan and mission statement to this day. With this in mind, Rocco wrote the guidelines, secured initial sponsorship of the program with the Sports Billy Organization and tirelessly promoted the program within the growing LIJSL membership. He stressed the important role that sportsmanship plays in the development of players. Referees submit sportsmanship ratings online after every game based on the cooperation of players, coaches and spectators, overall game conduct and player appearance. Winning teams in each division are recognized at special ceremonies and wear a sportsmanship award patch on their uniform––the only patch LIJSL players may wear on their uniform other than their club patch and American flag.
In 1983, Congressman Thomas Downey entered the name of the Long Island Junior Soccer League into the Congressional Record, mentioning the program’s slogan of Building Character Through Soccer. Rocco’s Sportsmanship Program guidelines have been adopted by ENYYSA and the American Youth Soccer Organization. In addition, the principles of the program have been incorporated by leagues in Ireland and China. And the Rocco Amoroso Sportsmanship Cup is given annually to men’s and women’s teams in Eastern New York.
Rocco’s emphasis on sportsmanship changed the fabric of youth soccer in New York, throughout the United States and indeed in other parts of the globe, for the good of the game and the development of the character of its players. An enthusiastic public speaker, Rocco gives speeches on sportsmanship throughout Eastern New York at the meetings of the diverse youth and senior leagues, including annually at the Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association AGM. Rocco paid for signs which line the touchlines of local soccer fields that say: Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association––Fair Play, Please.
Soccer would not be the same disciplined sport today without Rocco’s profound influence, all done as a volunteer. He has been attending U.S. Soccer’s AGM throughout the United States for the past few decades and he always speaks about Sportsmanship in the Good of the Game portion of the AGM.
Although Rocco is the Sportsmanship Chairperson for ENYYSA, his involvement in soccer goes beyond Fair Play. He is also Chairperson for Eastern New York’s Hall of Fame Committee as well as a member of ENYYSA’s National Hall of Fame Committee. And New York Mens-Over-40 teams compete annually for the Rocco Amoroso Cup.
There is no one more deserving of the U.S. Soccer Life Member Award than Rocco and we hope that the nominating committee will look favorably upon this nomination.
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 12 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.