ENYSSA treasurer Mario Treglia is standing to Michael Lewis’ left and Cosmopolitan Soccer League president Mike Fitzgerald is to his right. (Photo from EMYSSA Instagram)

On Sunday, FrontRowSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis was inducted into the Eastern New York State Soccer Association Hall of Fame at Vetro Restaurant and Lounge on Sunday.

Lewis was welcomed into the Hall along with Hugo Cueva, Alfredo D’Antonio, Kostas Manesis, Fritz Marth, Klaus Mueller and Jessica Reifer. Referee Jorge Gonzalez also received the first ENYSSA Presidential Award for his soccer contribution at the local, regional, national and international levels.

This is Lewis’ acceptance speech:

I am quite humbled today.

I am humbled by the fact Eastern New York State Soccer Association would choose me for induction into its Hall of Fame. I am also humbled to be included in this eclectic induction class that has contributed so much to the growth of the game.

There are so many people to thank, and I hope I don’t forget anyone one.

First of all, I want to thank Eastern New York president Sal Rapaglia, Peter Pinori, Mike Fitzgerald, Rocco Avallone, Vinny Diliberti, Mario Treglia, Lyndelle Phillips, Orlando Byfield, the Hall of Fame committee and the trustees.

[Trustees include Joe Brosi, Nino Catalioti, Marciano Cipriano, Cathya Suckle, Settimio Petrucelli, Jeff LaRue, Kostas Manesis, Robin Johns, Dino Dominguez, Nino DePasquali and Casimir Krempa].

That I am standing here accepting this great honor is not without great irony.

I was born in Brooklyn and lived in Queens before moving eastward. While growing up in Plainview and Westbury, I was a sports-crazed kid, crazy about baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Soccer? Not on the radar.

But life has a way of throwing us curves and here’s the irony.

Six months into my first job at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in January 1975, assistant sports editor Bill Parker called me over to his desk. There was a stack of files next to him as he talked about how encouraged the editors were of my work and that they wanted me to cover the Rochester Lancers soccer team. The Lancers played in the same division as the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League, and they were a headache and a half to cover. Plus, I knew very little about soccer and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of an entire city. All I wanted to do was to push the files away and say, “No thanks.” But I didn’t. I was still on probation, and I didn’t want my ruin my chances of a sports-writing career.

It turned out to be the best professional decision I made.

While those early days were bumpy, I eventually embraced the sport. It has allowed me to see the world and meet people from all walks of life and nationalities, including in Eastern New York. In fact, that is where the next step of my evolution in the sport took place.

When I returned here in 1987, I joined the staff of Soccer Week and started taking in two or three games a week at all levels. I learned the intricacies of the game and saw things from another perspective. My knowledge and appreciation of soccer grew covering matches at such venues as the Met Oval, Park Stadium, Downing Stadium, Brooklyn College, Mitchel Athletic Complex, Memorial Stadium in Mount Vernon, the Cropsey Avenue Fields and the Verrazano Soccer Complex, among so many other fields.

I wound up writing about teams in so many leagues – the NESSL, CSL, LISFL, EDSL, HASL, IASL and several Hispanic and Caribbean leagues.

Some of my most memorable stories haven’t necessarily been about what has transpired on the pitch. It’s about people. It’s about how Lyndelle Phillips led her fellow workers out of the World Trade Center before the building collapsed on 911, and how Joe Brosi, who I believe is now a Battalion Commander in the FDNY, and his colleagues dealt with the aftermath of 911 after many of their friends perished at the Twin Towers.

I recently had my eighth book published, about the Lancers; talk about more irony, huh? It’s called ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers.

The first line in Chapter One of the book has one word:

Passion.

As in passion for the game.

I think that’s what describes most, if not all of you, sitting here in this room. You are involved in the beautiful game not necessarily for the monetary compensation, although there is certainly not anything wrong with that. But you love what you do, whether you play the game, coach it, work the middle, run a team, a club or a league or an association.

You have passion for the game.

That is why I enjoy being around you and why I write about soccer.

In many respects, I am accepting this award for many of the soccer media members, whether they are writers, bloggers or Grant Wahl.

No induction speech would be complete without some thank you’s.

I want to thank the editors and writers I worked with at Soccer Week, particularly Eric Besser and Bob Liepa.

Another thank you goes to the late Vic Ziegel, the former sports editor at the New York Daily News, who had the vision to start a weekly soccer column in 1988 that eventually grew into essentially a fulltime gig for myself. No complaints on my part.

I also want to acknowledge and thank Howard Rubenstein, the late Peter Collins, Peter Masotto, Gux Xikis and Fritz Marth, Sr. for their support.

To my wife Joy, thank you very much for your incredible patience. In this day and age of a never-ending 24/7 news cycle, you have put up with me working late into the night and on weekends to get the news out. Thank you for your support, encouragement and editing. I love you.

Even though I have been bestowed this honor, I should warn you that I plan on continuing to cover the beautiful game.

Again, thank you very much to Eastern New York on a day that I will never forget.

May be an image of 3 people and people standing