By Michael Lewis
Growing up only four blocks apart in the Rochester, N.Y. suburb of Brighton, the sporting paths of Terry Lippman and Dave Sarachan constantly intertwined when they played Little League baseball, basketball and of course, soccer.
Before they became teammates on the Rochester Lancers, they made their biggest impact in the beautiful game while starring for a Brighton High School soccer team that captured the Section V Class A title in 1971.
On Jan. 8, Lippman passed away after a two-year battle with ALS, better known to many as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 66.
“It was a little bit of a shock to see how he passed,” former Lancers defender-midfielder Nelson Cupello said Thursday. Such a young age like that … It could happen to you and anybody.”
Sarachan called ALS “an insidious disease. Terrible.”
“This ALS stuff is nasty,” he said, adding that Lippman “had a pretty aggressive form of it.”
Last January Sarachan and some other high school friends visited Lippman in California. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could see him in person, but communicated via Zoom on a regular basis. “It eventually just got him.”
Regardless what sport he played, Lippman excelled at it.
“He was a good athlete,” Sarachan said on a telephone call Thursday. “He played all sports, basketball, baseball, soccer, of course. Probably his sport was soccer but.
“He had a lot of energy. He was just a bundle of energy, wanted to do things, couldn’t sit still. He was a real ideas guy. He had a lot of his father was kind of a go-getting guy and an entrepreneur and idea guy and Terry was kind of had a lot of thoughts and ideas and creatively and it came to fruition when he moved to LA. He would always talk about a screenplay he wanted. He was writing a TV pilot.
“As a kid, always out playing, an active guy, a social guy, real social level, loved to be around people.”
On Nov. 8, 1971, both players stood out at opposite ends of the field, with Lippman making sure the Barons secured a clean sheet Sarachan tallying the lone goal of the match on a field that was covered with a thin layer of snow at Penfield High School.
“We were really good,” said Sarachan, someone who has been not known to brag. “Terry was a big part of it.”
The 6-2, 180-lb. Lippman was fast for his size.
“For a guy his size, sometimes you know you’d lose a little speed, but he had quickness and speed,” said Sarachan, who recently stepped down as head coach North Carolina FC after years as U.S. men’s national team coach, USMNT assistant coach and LA Galaxy associate head coach. “He was really good in the air as a defender … Back in the day, attacking guys got more of the press, but Terry was really a standout defender. It was hard to get past him. He was left-footed. It’s always a nice premium, a nice thing to have.”
The duo had some intriguing confrontations during team scrimmages – the crafty, speedy, quick 5-5, 135-lb. Sarachan against the taller Lippman, who was faster than he looked.
“We kind of each made each other better because I was pretty good at what I did and he was very good at what he did,” said Sarachan, remembering what transpired almost half a century ago. “I don’t remember specifics when we practiced but I’m sure there were many moments where I might be able to get past some guys. But with Terry I had to be a little bit more clever. We kind of fed off each other on that. He was competitive, a very competitive guy. You need that if you’re going achieve anything.”
After securing high school All-American honors, they were named co-winners of the Gannett Company’s Ira C. Saposink Award as 1971’s outstanding local Jewish athletes.
They went their separate ways, Lippman to UCLA, where he was a four-year starter and Sarachan, first to Monroe Community College and then to Cornell University. Lippman, who earned All-American honors, participated in two NCAA Division I finals as his Bruins squad lost to Saint Louis University. in the 1972 and 1973 finals.
He was selected by the Lancers in the third round of the 1976 NASL college draft and signed a contract with the Lancers that was for a few thousand dollars. Most Americans back then were not paid very well.
Lippman was a member of the Lancers for one season, even though he did not see any action in North American Soccer League matches.
“I remember when he first came, he had this look in his face then. ‘Wow, I’m here.’ He was excited, a kid in the candy store thing,” said Cupello, who went onto a along, successful coaching career, many years at Monroe Community College. “That look visually, I could see him then. back then. He had an Afro. He had curly hair and it was long. It was the style at the time. We all had long curly hair. Je was just a wide-eyed kid. He came he came in with that expectation, ‘I got drafted by my hometown team.’ Whether he was given an opportunity to showcase himself, I don’t know if it was his decision or the club’s decision. After a year he was gone.”
“I got to know him a little bit. The one thing that struck me as it didn’t seem like he was interested in playing the sport as much and rightfully so. You can see what he’s done after he left soccer was very successful in the entertainment business. I think that played soccer was I got drafted and give it a shot. When I talked to him, there was something else that he was more concerned about or looked forward to, whether he would have had a career in soccer and then gone into that, that was always the main focus for him, going back out to California and getting involved on what he did. very successful at it.”
That would be in the music business as Lippman went on to have a successful career in the music industry by helping to discover artists such as Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20. He worked with his brother Michael in scouting and managing artists such as Melissa Manchester and George Michael. He retired following the birth of his daughter Madison six years ago.
Lippman is survived by his wife Danielle, his daughter Madison, mother-in-law Norma, brother Michael, sister-in-law Nancy, nephews Nick and Josh as well as other close cousins.
He passed away on Jan. 8 with family and friends around him.