During the 35th Annual Long Island Junior Soccer League Convention on March 3, four longtime volunteers who have made a huge difference on Long Island’s soccer fields—Joe Karam, Cora Fitzgerald, Michael D’Ambrosio and John Deutsch—were inducted into the LIJSL Hall of Fame. The LIJSL Hall of Fame now has 106 members.
“Each of the 2017 Hall of Fame inductees have made significant contributions to their respective clubs, the Long Island Junior Soccer League and the game of soccer on Long Island,“ stated LIJSL President Anthony Maresco. “We are proud of their accomplishments and are delighted to honor them tonight.”
Joe Karam has been irreplaceable to the Plainedge Soccer Club for the past two decades, serving as a coach during all this time, currently coaching a Boys-Under-17 team. He has volunteered on the Plainedge Board of Directors for the past 19 years and has served as the commissioner of the Small Fry, Pee Wee and Bantam divisions.
Karam volunteered as vice president of Plainedge from 2000 to 2005 and as club president for the past 11 years, during which he has doubled the size of the club, now boasting 1,500 players. Karam was a cofounder of the Nassau Development Program (NDP) and strengthened the Route 135 intramural league plus raised funds in 2005 to reinstall all Plainedge High School sports when the school district went on austerity.
Additionally, he cofounded and continues as Registrar for the Thanksgiving Kids Helping Kids Charity Indoor Tournament which has raised over $140,000 to Long Island-based charities and families in need during the past 18 years. This list of accomplishments goes on as he instituted the Shoot for the Cure fundraising event for Beast Cancer Awareness Month in October 1999 and started the Bubble Soccer Charity Tournament-Scoring Goals for Autism in support of Autism Awareness Month last April.
“The Plainedge Soccer Club is fortunate to have a volunteer like Joe. He is passionate about the game and is committed to providing the best soccer experience for everyone,“ Maresco stated.
Cora Fitzgerald began coaching her children and found a passion to give more so she served as the Terryville Soccer Club president for four years plus has been their registrar and field scheduler since 2007. Additionally, she has volunteered for the LIJSL as Long Island Cup Supervisor and served on the LIJSL Convention player’s arbitration and sportsmanship committees.
Fitzgerald often works all night making sure that everything is perfect when the LIJSL Convention opens at the Huntington Hilton, including this past Friday evening after she was inducted into the LIJSL Hall of Fame. Even though her children have long since graduated from the LIJSL and their family home burned to the ground a few years ago, Fitzgerald continues to give an enormous amount of time to both the Terryville club and the LIJSL.
“Cora truly enjoys volunteering her time and getting involved with various programs at the league,“ President Maresco explained. “She puts 100 percent into every task and she does it all with a smile.“
Michael D’Ambrosio of Oceanside United is “a boisterous man with a heart of gold,“ according to Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association President Richard Christiano, who nominated D’Ambrosio. He is Eastern New York’s registrar, has volunteered on the LIJSL board of directors for the past decade and is currently second vice president. D’Ambrosio served as chairperson of the TOPSoccer Special Children’s Program for both Eastern New York and the LIJSL. He also volunteered as chairperson of the LIJSL Supervisory Committee and on the board of directors of Oceanside United.
D’Ambrosio is seemingly involved with every committee there is in Oceanside, including being elected trustee of both the Oceanside School Board and Oceanside Library Board and he was the recipient of the Kiwanis Club of Oceanside Heart of Gold Award for his unending service to the children of Oceanside.
“Michael enjoys life and puts everyone before himself. If you have a problem or need a helping hand, the first call you make is to Michael,“ LIJSL President Anthony Maresco said.
John Deutsch was nominated by the East Islip Soccer Club yet he grew up playing in the league for the Massapequa Soccer Club. In 1986, he started coaching his children in East Islip and served in the club’s board of directors for a decade. Whatever East Islip needed done, Deutsch has done it for the past three decades, from creating the club newsletter, running the concession stand, setting up the fields and volunteering again on East Islip’s board of directors.
“For someone who was leaving 15 years ago, he spends an awful lot of time at our fields on the weekends!“ commented East Islip Soccer Club President John Davis.
Maresco added, “We are fortunate to have a volunteer like John involved with our league for over 30 years, giving his time to help build a strong foundation in East Islip.“
Additionally, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was present to honor the two Hall of Famers from Nassau County—Joe Karam and Michael D’Ambrosio—as he knows both personally.
Mangano said, “Joe and Michael are wonderful examples what the LIJSL is all about, making a better life for our kids. Joe saw to it that a sump was converted into a soccer field, which was the first time we did that in Nassau County. He’s a dynamic fundraiser and workaholic. You’re also really blessed to have a great volunteer like Mike as I have not seen many people work as hard as he does.“
With over 100,000 youth soccer players—both boys and girls—and more than 25,000 volunteers, the nonprofit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association. ENYYSA promotes and enhances the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and encourages the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered—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, visit www.enysoccer.com.
Director of Public Relations,
Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association