Tony DiCicco talking at a women’s soccer symposium at the NSCAA convention in 2004 (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Never have I seen such outpouring of appreciation, affection and sadness for one of American soccer’s great personalities and coaches.
The passing of Tony DiCicco shook the U.S. Soccer and soccer community because he touched countless people in so many ways. He was a great coach, but with a personality that could pull a side such as the U.S. women’s national team together.
No easy task when you have so many strong personalities and enormous talents together on a team in which its ultimate goals were world championships and Olympic gold medals.
I’m not going to inundate you with comments about DiCicco. All you have to do is go on social media and you will find a former player, friend, coach, just about anyone in soccer singing his praises.
Saying that, I will give you a few comments about the man.
Mia Hamm put it in perspective in The New York Times:
“Tony never felt like he knew everything. It was incredibly empowering. His security breathed so much confidence into all of us. What it told me was that I didn’t have to be perfect 100 percent of the time. There were incredibly talented people around me, and they were going to help pick me up.”
Ditto for Julie Foudy in USA TODAY:
“Everyone knows there’s X’s and O’s and tactics but to be able to bring a team together in a way that he was able to consistently is what I love most about him. And to do it with such a joy that when you were doing what you were doing we used to often say, ‘We get paid to do this? Oh my gosh.’ That will be his legacy and spirit that live on because it lives on in all of his players who are now impacting people in a similar way.”
MLS vice president Dan Courtemanche, was in charge of communications for the Women’s United Soccer Association earlier this century when DiCicco was commissioner. He said DiCicco’s passing was “tragic.”
“I was very fortunate to spend working two years closely with Tony,” he added. “It was really one of the greatest soccer minds in American soccer history. Certainly with the women’s game, but also with the men’s game. He played as a professional. But more importantly, as a human being he was an incredible guy, someone that I truly enjoyed being around. His positive attitude was infectious. You’ve spend some time with Tony. Did you ever the guy say a negative thing, ever?”
DiCicco touched many people, more than anyone of us would know or count.
Jeffrey Paternostro wrote this on my Twitter page after DiCicco’s death was announced:
“Tony sold me my first pair of boots and was a hell of an u10 coach in addition to his other accolades. Wouldn’t be a fan without him.”
Could not have said it better myself.