By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
April 5, 2021-The New York soccer community is mourning the loss of the legendary Emil Cohill on March 30 at the age of 82. The Woodside resident dedicated his life to soccer, particularly to the players of the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL).
Emil emigrated to the United States from Croatia in 1952. He attended St. Mary’s Grammar School in Tacoma, Washington, where he was a CYO All-Star before moving to New York in 1955 and studying at Power Memorial Academy. He attended Fordham University where he was the team’s MVP in 1962, before playing for Dalmatinac Soccer Club in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League (CSL) from 1963 to 1980.
He served as a referee for four decades, riding his bicycle to the Metropolitan Oval on weekends to ref games.
"Emil was a beloved member of our association and administered our annual election process," New York Soccer Referee Association (NYSRA) President Kambiz Riazi stated. "He almost never missed a meeting and was always one of our favorite members. Emil was always calm and supportive and we will miss his great personality and ever-present smile. New York soccer has lost one of its pioneering souls and we have lost a great friend."
As Emil favored the traditional black referee shirt, refs in New York City the weekend after his passing wore the black jersey in honor of him.
“He was like a silent hero to the game, because that’s the way he wanted it. The game and the players were more important than anything else,” former CJSL President Jim Vogt explained. “We had many conversations over the years, and it was never, never about him. It’s always about the game, always about the players. So, he was a hero. Most people look for accolades. He probably should have gotten many, many more accolades, but he never wanted it, never pushed for it because the game, and the players, were bigger than anything else.”
Like it or not, Emil did receive accolades as he was inducted into the Eastern New York Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999, was the first person inducted into the CJSL Hall of Fame (2003), was both a CJSL and NYSRA Life Member plus was honored at the 2017 New York City Soccer Gala.
“Emil Cohill will be missed on all fronts, most of all in the impact he had on New York City youth soccer. The many decades Emil dedicated and devoted his time for the game and to improve the quality of the sport here in our state,” CJSL President Ron Restrepo commented. "Emil was very quiet at times but those who knew him were aware that he loved talking about the game and all the history around the CJSL. It is a very sad day for all of us at the CJSL but we will always remember Emil for all that he has done for the league and development of the sport. We have lost an incredible person who gave all for others and most important, lead by example. Emil will be missed and we will always celebrate his life as there are few folks who devote themselves to the sport the way he did.”
In 1976, Emil was elected CJSL Secretary, a volunteer position he amazingly held for over 40 years. He also served as the Director of the CJSL’s Herbert Heilpern Indoor Tournament and volunteered on the Hall of Fame Committee of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA).
CJSL Director Dimitrie Draguca said, “We are all saddened by the passing of Emil, who gave so much to our league and to our sport. The amount of time, hours and commitment he gave are unmeasurable. We used to kid Emil in our meetings that we would get him a Mac book, but he just smiled and said, ‘Are you kidding me, why do I need that?’ He was happy and content with his typewriter, cause it did the job and did it right.”