Susan Wagner girls varsity coach Carleen Rago in center flanked by assistant coaches Rolando Chirinos (left) and Alex Verardi
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 10, 2023-Carleen Rago has lived on Staten Island her whole life, having grown up in Bay Terrace and she now lives in Rossville. The 48-year-old recently found out that she will become the first Staten Islander to be inducted into the New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place on September 9, 2023 at Niskayuna Soccer Park in the Capital District.
“Abby Wambach was a part of the first induction class in 2017,’' Carleen said of the U.S. Women’s National Team legend. “I have her jersey.”
Carleen grew up playing for the St. Joseph and St. Thomas, St. Patrick’s and Staten Island United clubs in the Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL), the southernmost league in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA).
She made her name at New Dorp High School, scoring 122 career goals as a four-year starter while leading the Centrals to two New York City Public School Athletic League (PSAL) titles. By the time she graduated in 1992, she owned the PSAL record in goals.
From 1992 to 1995, Carleen Rago led the Endicott College soccer and basketball teams. She became the women’s soccer program’s all-time leading scorer with 75 goals after scoring 25 goals as a senior and was a two-time All-NEWAC First Team selection. In basketball, her quickness led her to becoming the Gulls’ all-time leader in steals with 412 and assists with 217.
She then played semipro soccer with the New York Magic before there was a women’s professional soccer league.
Nowadays, Carleen is best-known as a coach, leading the Susan Wagner High School girls varsity team to the last nine Staten Island championships in her 24 years at the helm, with seven of those Falcons teams going undefeated. She also coaches two SIYSL Under-9 teams both named the Staten Island Stallions. The boys squad plays travel team soccer while the coed squad plays rec soccer.
Eastern New York Hall of Famer Bill Smith, who volunteered as SIYSL President for 16 years, stated, “Carleen was a great player and is a coach that her players look up and respect as she always puts them first. When I needed help with her nephew’s team, she said, ‘Don’t worry, I got this.’ Carleen helped me with our pee wee program too. When I needed some high school girls to train the little ones, my first call was to Carleen who has never let me down. She sent a few of her players to help.”
With approximately 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 10 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. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/