Four longtime volunteers who have made a difference on Long Island’s soccer fields –– Joe Karam, Cora Fitzgerald, Michael D’Ambrosio and John Deutsch –– were inducted into the Long Island Junior Soccer League Hall of Fame at the Huntington Hilton in Melville, N.Y. Friday night.
The LIJSL Hall 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,” LIJSL president Anthony Maresco said. “We are proud of their accomplishments and are delighted to honor them tonight.”
Karam has been irreplaceable to the Plainedge Soccer Club for the past two decades, serving as a coach during his entire tenure. currently coaching a Boys-Under-17 team. He has volunteered on the Plainedge board of directors the past 19 years and has served as the commissioner of the Small Fry, Pee Wee and Bantam divisions.
He volunteered as vice president of Plainedge from 2000-2005 and as club president the past 11 years, during which he has doubled the size of the club, which has grown to 1,500 players. Karam was a co-founder of the Nassau Development Program, strengthened the Route 135 intramural league and raised funds in 2005 to reinstall all Plainedge High School sports when the school district went on austerity.
Karam also co-founded and continues as registrar for the Thanksgiving Kids Helping Kids Charity Indoor Tournament, which has raised more than $140,000 to Long Island-based charities and families in need during the past 18 years. He also has 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,” Marecso said. “He is passionate about the game and is committed to providing the best soccer experience for everyone.”
Fitzgerald began coaching her children and found a passion to give more so she served as the Terryville Soccer Club president for four years and has been its registrar and field scheduler since 2007. She has volunteered for the LIJSL as Long Island Cup supervisor and served on the LIJSL convention, player’s arbitration and sportsmanship committees. Fitzgerald makes sure that everything is perfect when the LIJSL convention opens at the Hilton. 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 club and league.
“Cora truly enjoys volunteering her time and getting involved with various programs at the league,” Maresco said. “She puts 100% percent into every task and she does it all with a smile.“
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, andhas volunteered on the LIJSL board of directors the past decade. He also ENYYSA second vice president. D’Ambrosio served as chairperson of the TOPSoccer Special Children’s Program for 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 the Oceanside School Board and Oceanside Library Board. He also 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,” Maresco said.
Deutsch was nominated by the East Islip Soccer Club. 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 and setting up the fields.
“For someone who was leaving 15 years ago, he spends an awful lot of time at our fields on the weekends,” East Islip Soccer Club president John Davis said.
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.“
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was present to honor the two Hall of Famers from Nassau County — Karam and D’Ambrosio –– as he knows both personally.
“Joe and Michael are wonderful examples what the LIJSL is all about, making a better life for our kids,” Mangano said. “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.”