Rocco Avallone, Gus Xikis and Joe Brosi. (Photo courtesy of the Xikis family)
By Michael Lewis
I have to admit, I am a bit biased while writing this story about Gux Xikis.
I knew the president of the Long Island Soccer Football League for more than 30 years and I got to know him as any journalist could with such a high soccer official.
He was a great man and a great guy. That can be defined in two different ways, in his work ethic and love of the beautiful game and as a person. He could make some really difficult decisions, such as eliminating a team from a tournament due to using an ineligible player to preserve the integrity of the league. And oh yes, he could tell a mean joke.
Everyone has their favorite story, memory or tale about Gus.
Mine? I know this will stun everyone from here to Zurich, Switzerland, it involves history and journalism, for which I have an obvious passion.
Perhaps what impressed me the most about Gus was the fact he embraced history. Several years ago, he started a project to fill in the gaps about the league’s history. As a writer who sometimes needs to put things into perspective, I appreciated his efforts and eventual end product.
Which brings us to the journals Gus produced for the LISFL and Eastern New York State Soccer Association Halls of Fame. Both publications had a ton of historical information, especially biographies for every inductee. To me, those are media guides for information and a who’s who in soccer in the metropolitan area.
In perhaps one of the most ironic moments of last week, I used background information about Gus from his LISFL Hall bio to fill in the gaps of my obituary and things I didn’t even know about him (did you know he coached Little League Baseball at one time?).
As for other media upgrades, the league recently added video coverage of key outdoor games and wall-to-wall coverage of its indoor tournament in February.
Gus also was quite proud of the fact that thousands of league-related photos were on Flickr.
In 2018, I had one of the most memorable nights of my life was I was inducted into the LISFL Hall of Fame at the league’s 70th anniversary dinner. Getting inducted into any Hall is a great honor, but my class included several men who I have respected, including Hank Steinbrecher, Shep Messing, Alfonso Mondelo, Werner Roth, Mike Grella and David Rosini. Another orbit? No, another universe.
Wanting to make sure all of us could attend, Gus and the Hall of Fame committee did their due diligence and made sure the night wasn’t against MLS Cup or professional soccer playoff matches.
Well, like I said, I am biased.
I always will be grateful to Gus and league for that honor and that night.
Michael Lewis, David Rosini, Alfonso Mondelo and Hank Steinbrecher, who were inducted into the LISFL Hall of Fame in 2018. (Photo courtesy of the LISFL).
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there won’t be a traditional wake or funeral for Gus. So, the LISFL went to its creative best and will have a drive-by wake past Gus’ home and family in Nassau County on Sunday.
If you’re interested, you might want to join the crowd in what likely will be a long, long procession of cars. Cars will start lining up at the MacArthur High School parking lot (3369 Old Jerusalem Road Wantagh, N.Y. 11793) by 11:45 a.m.
A memorial service will be held at a later date and I know it will be an emotional and memorable one.
I certainly plan on attending both.
It’s just another way to honor and thank Gus for being Gus.