By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
November 29, 2021-Ask any adult who played youth soccer what they enjoyed about it and one of the answers will almost always be about the lifelong friendships that started on soccer fields. Three Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) clubs certainly recognize this and hosted Alumni Games last week.
Thanksgiving is utilized as people are home for the holiday and the weather is still conducive for outdoor soccer on Long Island. It’s a time to relive memories while kicking around a ball.
Oceanside Soccer Club
The Oceanside United Soccer Club, founded in 1962, kicked off the fun on Thanksgiving morning, November 25 when they played their 32nd Annual Turkey Bowl. The venue was the Rudy Lamonica Memorial Field at the Merle Avenue School, named after the teenager who played on that original team in ’62 and who scored more than half of Oceanside High School’s goals in the 1968 and ’69 seasons in leading the Sailors to consecutive Long Island championships before his tragic death from bone cancer in 1970. Nearly three dozen Oceanside United coaches, administrators plus former players had fun in the Turkey Bowl.
“The Turkey Bowl is a beautiful celebration of the camaraderie of guys who get together every year to play soccer,” explained Oceanside United’s Rich Eisenberg, who organizes this annual event.
Meanwhile, inside the school’s gym, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) Registrar Mike D’Ambrosio and his many friends from the Oceanside Interfaith Council and Oceanside Community Service gave away 1,200 Thanksgiving meals to those facing food insecurities.
Garden City Centennial Soccer Club
The Garden City Centennial Soccer Club, the largest club in Eastern New York, kicked off play in 1969 and its name comes from its first year being the 100th anniversary of the Village of Garden City. The club’s Alumni Games started over two decades ago. Nearly 50 current and former players plus coaches played on Saturday, November 27 at Garden City Community Park, then went to Doc O’Grady’s where the food was paid for by the club.
Rockville Centre Soccer Club
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as the club was founded in 1971, the Rockville Centre Soccer Club is the youngest of these three clubs but has the oldest Alumni Games as they started in the mid-1960s when the graduates from South Side High School boys varsity team got together. The games have evolved into a club-run event with women playing too on Saturday, November 27 at Stephen Tighe Field, named after the beloved Rockville Centre coach who perished on 9/11. First the women played, then the older guys with the younger guys up last. Several dozen former and current players and coaches had fun.
There was also a rededication of Tighe Field with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Approximately $1 million in public funds was utilized in transforming a so-so grass field into a state-of-the-art turf soccer field.
Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray stated, “Your club’s dedication to athletic excellence continues year-after-year. Just look at how the South Side (High School) girls team did this fall.”
The celebration continued that evening with the club’s 50th Anniversary Dinner at the St. Agnes Parish Center.