The SIYSL inducted four new members into its Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of ENYYSA)
The Staten Island Youth Soccer League honored 22 Club Service Award recipients and inducted four new Hall of Famers –– John Lauria, Matt Meagher, Burt Wilkes and Nick Zlatar –– at its 12th annual awards dinner and Hall of Fame ceremony at The Staaten Jan. 11.
Lauria began coaching in 1992 at the St. Joseph Hill Academy, coaching in the club for nearly two decades. He served as the director of the St. Joseph Hill Academy from 1999 to 2011. He also volunteered on the SIYSL executive board as secretary and vice president. In 2001, Lauria, along with Frank DeCandido and Frank Socci, founded the SIYSL TOPSoccer Program for children with special needs. Two players from that program –– Victoria Alonso and Emily Atassi –– recently were honored as the 2017 Eastern New York TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year as well as being honored on the night Lauria was inducted. Currently in the role of SIYSL TOPSoccer vice president, Lauria coordinates the league’s coaching education program.
Meagher started coaching his daughter Caitlin as an assistant coach with the St. Charles Angels in 1995. He moved into the role of head coach with the St. Charles Vikings in 1997 as his son Matt played on that team. He caught the soccer bug and started taking coaching license courses taught by fellow inductee Zlatar. With youngest son Patrick wanting to play, Meagher started coaching that team as well. To introduce more children to soccer, Meagher organized free clinics. The St. Charles soccer program started to grow as Meagher became the director in 2002, introducing year-round soccer to players who wanted to participate in the new Winter Clinic and Summer Training in addition to SIYSL games in the spring and fall. He started the St. Charles Pee Wee Program.
Wilkes has been inducted into the halls of fame of Eastern New York (2012), the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (2013) and Region 1 (2017). He became involved with the Silver Lake Soccer Club in 1991 and served the club as president, vice president and trustee. He was the assistant coach and team administrator of the Silver Lake Rams, who won two State Cup championships at Boys Under-17 and Boys U-19 and losing in the final at Boys U-18 between their two State Cups. He volunteered for six years as CJSL president, three years for Region 1. He has rejoined the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s board of directors.
Zlatar was an All-American at New York University in 1962. He started coaching at Pratt Institute in 1967, then served as the Kingsborough Community College men’s coach in the 1970s, making such a lasting impression on the players (at least three players received scholarships to four-year colleges every year he coached) that he was inducted into the Kingsborough Athletics Hall of Fame. He also served as Region 1 Olympic Development Program coach, was on the coaching staff of the Cosmos (original North American Soccer League), the New York Express (Major Indoor Soccer League) and served as color commentator for New York Arrows broadcasts. Zlatar has been involved with coaching education on the state and national levels. He also has presented in Europe and South America. Many of his clinics have been locally at Staten Island’s Miller Field.
The SIYSL honored four current players — Victoria Alonso and Emily Atassi — for their work with SIYSL TOPSoccer — and Emi Fauci and Josephine Priolo — for their service to their club and league.
The SIYSL and Staten Island Soccer Referee Association recognized four referees. Senior referees Mark Murasso Sr. and Alexandra Rodriguez were honored for their years of commitment and game management at various levels of competition. Alexandra Sqillaro and Erick Zajak are two up-and-coming refs were also recognized for their ability to manage multiple age groups and their quality of game management.