Former LISFL president Gus Xikis (center), flanked by Rocco Avallone (left), current LISFL president, and league and ENYSSA administrator Joe Brosi (right).
By Michael Lewis
Exactly two weeks from yesterday, Dec. 17, we say goodbye to 2020.
Or should I say, good riddance.
For so many reasons for so many people it has been the worst year ever.
Deaths, way too many of them.
A contentious Presidential Election, times ten.
Financial strife for so many people.
And probably a few other things that immediately don’t come to mind.
We have been through a lot.
It has taken its toll on yours truly as well, although I realize it is much, much worse for millions of other people.
I have found writing a comfort, a way to express myself and perhaps directly or indirectly, to get whatever I have inside my system out.
But even if I use my writing to “escape” or use it as a catharsis, there is something I cannot escape:
Actually, there is one thing worse:
Writing obituaries of people that you know.
It is the worst part of journalism.
Obituaries can be written in several ways.
There is the basic, perfunctory way in which we tell the basics and facts of a person’s life. Sometimes that will do.
When I have the time and resources, I try to make it a feature story about that person, to let the world know what type of human being he or she was and hopefully put their life into context.
We all have interesting stories. It is up to a writer to unearth them.
I’ve been in the journalism business for a good 46 years and there is always dread writing about the demise of way too many good people, especially ones that literally hit home.
It’s worse, much worse, when you have known the person and his or her family and friends.
Through Friday morning, I counted I had written obituaries of 45 soccer people, local, national and international. Some of these souls I knew well, others I had either interviewed or written about over the years. There were multiple passings on some days.
The list included:
* Gus Xikis, Long Island Soccer Football League president
* Nick Apostolides, referee and administrator supreme
* Rochester Lancers players Ibraim Silva, Damir Sutevski, Piero Pratti and Tommy Ord
* Dan Canter, a U.S. international and Cosmos defender
* Dan Wood, Cornell University men’s, Atlanta Chiefs and the Caribous of Colorado coach
* Bob Black, U.S. Soccer and North Texas administrator
* Seninho, Barry Mahy, Ralph Wright and Emmanuel Kofie, who played for the Cosmos
* Ron Broadbent, former National Soccer Coaches Association of America (now United Soccer Coaches) president, who forged his reputation at Spencerport High School in Rochester, N.Y.
* Tony Waiters, who coached the Canadian men to their lone World Cup appearance in 1986
* Bill Peet, Steve LaRosa and Bessie Lamonica, who cast their own unique giant shadows in the Long Island Junior Soccer League and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
And that list didn’t include such notable international names as Diego Maradona, Paolo Rossi, Gerard Houllier, Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles.
Unfortunately, that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
My gift to any of these dearly departed men and women or boys and girls, is a story about them, to put them and their careers — soccer and otherwise — into proper perspective.
Who’s next? I can’t tell you.
I fear it will be someone else I know. I just hope it will be the longest time before I get another opportunity to pen another obituary, especially during the pandemic.
As the saying goes, life goes on.
But like it or not, so does death.