By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 12, 2019-Four longtime volunteers who have made a huge difference on Long Island soccer fields for decades––John Davis, Gary Kofsky, Diana Riccardi and Robert Walters––were inducted into the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Hall of Fame on Friday night, March 8 at the Huntington Hilton. The festivities were all part of the 37th Annual LIJSL Convention, one of the largest soccer conventions in the world.
LIJSL President Anthony Maresco commented, “The LIJSL is very grateful for the dedication John, Gary, Diana and Robert have given to their respective clubs and we are honored to induct them into the LIJSL Hall of Fame.”
John Davis kicked off his career with the East Islip Soccer Club in 1998 when he started coaching daughter Kelly’s Girls-Under-5 team. After Kelly and sister Jenna graduated from youth soccer, he continued coaching, becoming a member of the East Islip Board of Directors in the process and holding every position on the board including club President. John never gave up until the task was complete, including late at night mowing or lining the fields with his car headlights showing the way. For four years, he volunteered as Tournament Director of the East Islip Fall Classic, turning it back into one of the largest tourneys on Long Island with over 300 teams. He found similar success with East Islip’s indoor tourney in his six years in charge, increasing the number of teams to over 100, and organized the Soccer for Sandy Tournament to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims. Additionally, he hired Ronan Wiseman as Director of Coaching to rival (some would say surpass) the expensive offerings of pay-to-play academies.
Gary Kofsky is a lifelong resident of West Islip and he was a soccer player and chess champion at West Islip High School. While still a high school student, he received a taste of coaching when he volunteered as assistant coach of the first West Islip Soccer Club girls team. Three decades later, Gary has coached all five Kofsky kids in soccer, basketball, softball and baseball, taking a team to the Little League World Series. Since the early 1990’s, he has served on the West Islip Board of Directors, including as club President for over 20 years. Under his leadership, the West Islip Soccer Club grew to over 1,600 children, started a TOPSoccer Special Children’s Program and has hosted the largest indoor soccer tourney on Long Island, the Adam Novellano Memorial Tournament, with over 300 teams. Along with his kids, Gary founded SOFA (Score One For All), providing sports uniforms and equipment to orphanages in underserved countries.
Diana Riccardi has been involved with the New Hyde Park Wildcats Soccer Club since the 1990’s when she volunteered as a coach in the intramural program, assisting her husband John. In 1997, Diana was the newspaper editor for the club, then joined the Board of Directors in 2001. She was so efficient and computer savvy as Boys Intramural Commissioner that she also became the club’s Registrar and Game Scheduler, becoming one of the first clubs to process registration and payment online. Diana was the Secretary for several years and stepped up to become club President in 2006 when the Vice President retired and the President suddenly resigned, yet she continued to serve as Registrar and Game Scheduler. Under her leadership, the Wildcats added a Micro Program for ages four and five, a developmental program for intramurals and a college scholarship program. And if all that is not enough, she is the Secretary of the Town of North Hempstead Soccer Advisory Committee.
Robert Walters has volunteered on the Baldwin Eagles Soccer Club Board of Directors since the late 1970’s, even though he never had any kids of his own. He has served as a coach during this entire time, for both boys and girls, travel teams and intramurals. His focus is on fundamentals and his players and he always teaches sportsmanship, teamwork, discipline and respect. There were several years when Robert singlehandedly lined every field in Baldwin and he was at the fields from sunrise to sunset every Saturday and Sunday. In 2006, Robert began to experience the symptoms of what became a chronic disability for him, forcing him to retire as a Physical Education teacher. Although he is no longer able to run the fields with his players, he teaches them in his own style from the touchline without any loss of respect from the children.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and 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 nine 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 Children With Special Needs. 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 onto http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.