By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 4, 2014-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) and Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association are thrilled to announce that Rocco Amoroso became a Life Member of US Soccer during their 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 1. As Rocco has attended US Soccer AGM’s throughout the country since 1989, the woodworker from Melville did not have far to travel to receive this lifetime achievement award as the 2014 AGM was held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
“I love my family, I love this country. I love this game and especially all the people that I have met through the years,” Rocco stated upon receiving the prestigious award.
This is far from the first honor for him as he has been inducted into the Eastern New York Soccer Hall of Fame and Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) Hall of Fame. Rocco also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nassau County Sports Commission in 1998, which is interesting as he lives and works just over the county border in neighboring Suffolk County. Now 88 years old, Rocco’s name is synonymous with sportsmanship and he puts his heart and soul into everything he does.
Rocco played in New York’s Eastern District Soccer League, starting in 1942. But his legacy in soccer came after he hung up his cleats for the last time.
The LIJSL’s Sportsmanship Program was the brainchild of Rocco in 1980 and is the first program of its kind––not just in the world of youth soccer, but in youth sports. Rocco had become concerned when he saw a lack of civility on the playing fields. As the LIJSL grew, there was a movement within the league to remain focused on its mission to develop mature teenagers and responsible citizens through the lessons of teamwork and Fair Play. The goal was to Build Character Through Soccer, a sentiment that comes from the Sportsmanship Program and continues to be the league’s slogan and mission statement to this day. With this in mind, Rocco wrote the guidelines, secured initial sponsorship of the program with the Sports Billy organization and tirelessly promoted the program. He stressed the important role that sportsmanship plays in the development of players.
In 1982 and 1983, the LIJSL sent the guidelines of their Sportsmanship Program to every youth soccer association in the United States. Many of these groups adopted the same guidelines and Rocco promoted sportsmanship at their invitation in Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky and Washington State. AYSO adopted the guidelines after Rocco gave a presentation to AYSO in Buffalo three decades ago.
In 1983, Congressman Thomas Downey entered the name of the Long Island Junior Soccer League into the Congressional Record, mentioning the program’s slogan of Building Character Through Soccer. In addition, the principles of the program have also been incorporated by leagues in Ireland and China.
The US Youth Soccer Association gave out the Rocco Amoroso Sportsmanship Trophy during the Girls-Under-19 national finals to the individual who was the best example of Fair Play during the finals. The Amoroso Sportsmanship Trophy was handed out in 1983 in Boston, 1984 in Dallas and 1985 in Seattle. And the Rocco Amoroso Sportsmanship Cup is given annually to men’s and women’s teams in Eastern New York.
Rocco’s emphasis on sportsmanship changed the fabric of youth soccer in New York, throughout the United States and indeed in other parts of the globe, for the good of the game and the development of the character of its players. An enthusiastic public speaker, Rocco gives speeches on sportsmanship throughout Eastern New York at the meetings of the diverse youth and senior leagues, including annually at the Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association AGM. Rocco paid for signs which line the touchlines of local soccer fields that say: Fair Play, Please.
Soccer would not be the same disciplined sport today without Rocco’s profound influence, all done as a volunteer.
Although Rocco is the Sportsmanship Chairperson for ENYYSA, his involvement in soccer goes beyond Fair Play. He is also Chairperson for Eastern New York’s Hall of Fame Committee as well as a member of our organization’s National Hall of Fame Committee. And New York Mens-Over-40 teams compete annually for the Rocco Amoroso Cup.
Rocco Amoroso in gray suit jacket and maroon vest surrounded by his friends from Eastern New York.