Photo courtesy of Jim Leary, sikids.net. SIYSL President Bill Smith second from left with the newest SIYSL Hall of Famers from left to right: Matt Meagher, Burt Wilkes and John Lauria. Nick Zlatar was camera shy.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 16, 2018-The Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL) honored 22 Club Service Award recipients and inducted four new Hall of Famers––John Lauria, Matt Meagher, Burt Wilkes and Nick Zlatar––at its 12th Annual Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Ceremony at The Staaten on January 11. The bios of each new Hall of Famer:
John Lauria began coaching in 1992 at the St. Joseph Hill Academy, coaching in the club for nearly two decades. John served as the Director of the St. Joseph Hill Academy from 1999 to 2011. During this time, he volunteered on the SIYSL Executive Board as Secretary and later as Vice President. In 2001, John along with Frank DeCandido and Frank Socci founded the SIYSL TOPSoccer Program for children with special needs and two players from that program––Victoria Alonso and Emily Atassi––were recently honored as the 2017 Eastern New York TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year as well as being honored on the night John was inducted. Currently in the role of SIYSL TOPSoccer Vice President, John coordinates the league’s coaching education program.
Matt Meagher started coaching his daughter Caitlin as an assistant coach with the St. Charles Angels in 1995. He then moved into the role of head coach with the St. Charles Vikings in 1997 as his son Matt played on that team. He caught the soccer bug and started taking coaching license courses taught by fellow inductee Nick Zlatar. With youngest son Patrick wanting to get in on all the fun, Matt started coaching that team too and in order to introduce more kids to soccer, Matt organized free clinics. The St. Charles soccer program started to really grow and Matt became the Director of the program in 2002, introducing year-round soccer to players who want to participate in the new Winter Clinic and Summer Training in addition to SIYSL games in the spring and fall. Additionally, Matt started the St. Charles Pee Wee Program.
Burt Wilkes gave an excellent induction speech, but then again, he’s had plenty of practice as he was previously inducted into the Halls of Fame of Eastern New York (2012), the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (2013) and Region 1 (2017) plus was honored as the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) Personality of the Month in August 2016. Why all the accolades? Burt became involved with the Silver Lake Soccer Club in 1991 and served the club as President, Vice President and Trustee. He was the assistant coach and team administrator of the Silver Lake Rams, who won two State Cup championships at Boys-Under-17 and Boys-Under-19 with losing in the final at Boys-Under-18 in-between their two State Cups. He volunteered for six years as CJSL President, three years for Region 1 and ENYYSA is delighted to have this hard worker back on our Board of Directors.
Nick Zlatar was an All-American at NYU in 1962. He started coaching at Pratt Institute in 1967, then served as the Kingsborough CC men’s coach in the 1970’s, making such a lasting impression on the players (at least three players received scholarships to 4-year colleges every year he coached them) that he was inducted into the Kingsborough Athletics Hall of Fame. Additionally, Nick served as Region 1 Olympic Development Program (ODP) coach, was on the coaching staff of the NASL’s New York Cosmos (original team), the MISL’s New York Express plus served as color commentator for New York Arrows broadcasts. Nick has been involved with coaching education on both the State and National levels, he has presented in Europe and South America too but many of his clinics have been locally at Staten Island’s Miller Field.
Additionally, the SIYSL honored four of its current players, Victoria Alonso and Emily Atassi for their work with SIYSL TOPSoccer, and Emi Fauci and Josephine Priolo for their service to their club and league.
The SIYSL and Staten Island Soccer Referee Association (SISRA) recognized four referees. Senior referees Mark Murasso Sr. and Alexandra Rodriguez were honored for their years of commitment and game management at various levels of competition. Alexandra Sqillaro and Erick Zajak are two up-and-coming refs were also recognized for their ability to manage multiple age groups and their quality of game management.
“It was a great night for Staten Island soccer, we had nearly 300 people here including a record number of 24 past Hall of Fame honorees,” commented SIYSL President Bill Smith. “Our four new inductees have made Staten Island Soccer proud in their own way, helping to grow the game of soccer here at home. We are proud to have John, Matt, Burt and Nick in a place of our highest honor.”
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 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 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 on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.