Sports fans know of the inspirational Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the Notre Dame walk-on who finally played in a football game, against Georgia Tech in 1975, and who was the subject of the movie “Rudy. But Long Island soccer fans also know about the equally-inspirational Rudy Lamonica, who died five years earlier. Rudy played on one of Oceanside United’s first boys teams after the club was founded by Joe Goldberg and Ian McDougall in 1962. As a teenager, he scored more than half of Oceanside High School’s goals during 1968 and 1969 in leading the Sailors to consecutive Long Island Championships and starred in the indoor tournament that now bears his name, before his untimely death from bone cancer. He is also remembered nearly five decades later for always keeping his spirit high, even when he was sick and had his right leg amputated.
What has also been inspirational is what the LIJSL club has done to remember Rudy. Oceanside United plays some of its games on the Rudy Lamonica Memorial Field at Merle Avenue School and awards Rudy Lamonica scholarships every year. His name will forever be associated with the oldest youth indoor soccer tournament in the United States, taking place on the last weekend in January on the turf at Coleman Country Day Camp in Merrick. Boys from the U-7 to U-12 age groups will be playing on Saturday, January 26, while girls from U-7 to U-12 will be playing on Sunday, January 27, in the 52nd Annual Rudy Lamonica Indoor Tournament, known simply as “the Rudy.“
In all 20 divisions, the first and second place teams will receive medals plus awards for the Best Forward, Best Defender, Best Goalkeeper, and the Rudy (for MVP) will be given in each division. Handing out the awards for decades has been Rudy’s mother, Bessie, now 92 years old. All proceeds from the tournament go to college scholarships for deserving Oceanside soccer players.
Former teammate Tony Higgins, now 64, remembered that “Rudy had a strong impact on us while he lived, just as strong as when he passed. He had a spirit that was indomitable!”
It’s a spirit that lives on in the Rudy Lamonica Indoor Tournament, which is once again sold out with 80 teams. For more info, please contact tournament director Neil Bloom at 516-640-7370 or firstname.lastname@example.org