By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 7, 2016-In July, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) celebrates the husband-and-wife team of Joe and Ann Licata as our Personalities of the Month. They were both born in Italy and their families emigrated to the United States. Joe, who had played soccer in his native country, was playing in Brooklyn for Fiorentina of the now Cosmopolitan Soccer League (CSL) and officiating games when they met and a love affair was born.
They married and founded the St. Patrick’s Soccer Club on Staten Island in 1976. Before that, the only soccer club on the island was Silver Lake of the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL).
Word quickly spread at St. Patrick’s and 100 boys showed up to play that first year. While Joe did the coaching and training, Ann did the paperwork and for the next 13 years, this dynamic duo helped grow the club from two teams to 27 with over 300 players. So popular had soccer become at St. Patrick’s that no games could be played at 10 am on Sundays anymore as people were going to games at Miller Field rather than attending Mass.
Joe, along with Sal Davilo and Sal Parello, founded the Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL) in 1978 as a CYO-based youth soccer league and it joined the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA). Joe served as the First Vice President of the SIYSL while Ann’s administrative skills were quickly recognized. She assumed the role of the first league secretary, providing order and organization to the mountain of paperwork thrust upon the fledgling league.
Ann, while actively involved with St. Patrick’s School, would recruit boys for the teams and organized the girls as cheerleaders, who would root for the teams at Miller Field. Soon the cry was, “Mrs. L, we want to play too!” and by 1982, Ann was coaching the first girls team on Staten Island, the St. Patrick’s Wildcats. In 1983, the Wildcats were competing against boys teams in the SIYSL and other girls teams followed so the SIYSL Girls Division was born.
The St. Patrick’s Soccer Club became the Richmondtown Soccer Club a quarter-century ago while the St. Patrick’s Soccer Club that now plays in the SIYSL is affiliated with the school by the same name.
The highlight of the Licatas' soccer volunteering occurred in 2002 when they used their Wall Street contacts and their fluency in Italian to fulfill an invitation by the Italian government for a Staten Island Boys-Under-17 team to play in a tournament in Agirigento named the World in Sicily. The New Yorkers turned heads by finishing in second place and Joe received a Humanitarian Award. The Licatas also took youth soccer teams to tournaments in Canada and across the United States and they were the first husband-and-wife team to be inducted into the SIYSL Hall of Fame.
“I'm honored to know Joe and Ann and they are always a phone call away when I need to go back in the history of the Staten Island Youth Soccer League,“ explained SIYSL President Bill Smith. “Joe sometime tells me what I'm doing right or wrong like a second Dad. Ann is like a second Mom to me as she listens and always gives me good advice. They are all about soccer and the youth of Staten Island.“
The Oakwood residents, married for 48 years, have two children––John and Laura––and four grandchildren. Joe refereed games up to two years ago, but they are now both semi-retired from soccer, although they have travelled to watch their grandchildren play soccer in the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL).
Congratulations to Joe and Ann Licata, Personalities of the Month in Eastern New York.
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.