By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 12, 2019-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is very pleased to announce that Gregg and Diana Knight are being honored as our Personalities of the Month for March.
The married couple were both born during this month as Gregg was born on March 25 and Diana celebrates her birthday a day earlier on March 24. Yet they did not meet at a birthday party as both have lived in Merrick their entire lives. Gregg played sports and Diana was a cheerleader so they met in the gym at Merrick Avenue Junior High School (now the Merrick Avenue Middle School) when Gregg was in 9th Grade and Diana was in 8th Grade.
With a background playing soccer, Gregg became the coach when their daughter Jennifer registered to play intramural soccer for the Merrick PAL when she was five years old in 1987. He eventually moved on to coaching son Bryan when he registered to play Merrick PAL intramural soccer, also when he was five. With Bryan playing on the team, Gregg was a travel team coach with the Merrick Magic of the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) 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, finalists two other years plus won the Region 1 Premier League and Tampa Bay Sun Bowl.
Gregg went with Bryan to tournaments while Diana did the same for Jennifer, who played travel team soccer for Northport/Cow Harbor Bandits as a teenager.
The couple led Merrick PAL soccer for a decade during the 1990’s with Gregg volunteering as President and Diana serving as Registrar.
“We were responsible for a bunch of things in addition to the registration of teams and players. We changed the uniforms for the intramural players as each team was a specific color such as red, pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, etc. We brought in one uniform with a reversible jersey, blue shorts and socks with the PAL logo. It was more cost-effective for both the club and the families as the uniform could be passed from one child to the next. They still use the same uniform today,“ Diana explained. “We also formed a committee to institute a Sportsmanship Program in which we designed a Code of Ethics for both players and parents that needed to be completed at registration. Nassau County PAL liked it so much, it’s on all of their applications countywide and we’re very proud of that.“
Gregg 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 LIJSL Convention. He also volunteered as ENYYSA Vice President from 2002 to 2009, as a member of the Premier League Committee from 2006 to 2011 (serving as its Director in 2009) and continues on the State Cup Committee to this day. For all this volunteering, Gregg was inducted into the Halls of Fame of the LIJSL in 2014 and Eastern New York a year later.
Meanwhile, Diana started working for the Long Island Soccer Referees Association (LISRA) just before the turn of the millennium.
She stated, “As a stay-at-home mom and the Merrick PAL registrar, I was at the LIJSL office in Plainview and would volunteer to help with any of their projects such as division coordinator, State Cup, Waldbaum’s Challenge, etc. As LISRA’s office is inside the LIJSL office, assignor Nanci Apostolides believed that as long as I was always there, I should come work for her. I stayed with LISRA until the LIJSL moved the office to Ronkonkoma as it was too far for me to travel, and started working with Eastern New York at our office in Rockville Centre in 2008.“
With Eastern New York, Diana is in charge of risk management, background checks, concussion awareness, insurance certificates and our relationship with the Eastern Development Program (EDP).
Without any fanfare, the Knights have been a big reason for the success of the State Cup. When players step onto the fields for the finals at Stringham Park in LaGrange on June 1 and 2, they will probably take it for granted that the fields are lined and ready to go, the equipment is in place and the registration tables are ready. All of this is done through the Knights’ leadership as they have been transporting the signage and equipment from Rockville Centre to the State Cup finals for more than a decade.
Congrats to Gregg and Diana Knight, Eastern New York Personalities of the Month for March.
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.