By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 29, 2020-Dozens of soccer goals scored in the late 1960’s still resonate throughout the town of Oceanside more than five decades later.
As a teenager, Rudy Lamonica scored more than half of Oceanside High School’s goals during 1968 and 1969 in leading the Sailors to consecutive Long Island championships and starred in the indoor tournament that now bears his name, before his untimely death from bone cancer. He is also remembered for always keeping his spirit high, even when he was sick and had his right leg amputated.
The 53rd Annual Rudy Lamonica Indoor Tournament is now the oldest youth indoor soccer tournament in the United States. At a time when many indoor soccer tourneys have shut down as teams have migrated to indoor leagues during the winter instead, the Rudy has not only survived, it has thrived, doubling in size to 148 teams, both boys and girls, this winter.
The Rudy was able to double in size as Coleman Day Camp in Merrick, which already had games in the Playhouse and Bubble, put a Dome over its outdoor soccer field for the winter. Teams played on two fields at the Dome (high school-aged teams played full size) all day Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26.
“And we had to even turn away dozens of teams,” commented Rudy Tournament Director Neil Bloom.
There is a slew of volunteers from the Oceanside United Soccer Club of the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) who have made the Rudy the huge tournament that it is today. Also volunteering were 25 referees from the Long Island Soccer Referees Association (LISRA) as everything goes to Oceanside United’s Scholarship Fund.
In all 37 divisions, the first and second place teams received medals plus awards for the Best Forward, Best Defender, Best Goalkeeper and the Rudy (for MVP) were given in each division. Handing out the awards for many decades has been Rudy’s mother, Bessie, but the LIJSL Hall of Famer can no longer do so at 93 years old.
Former teammate Tony Higgins, now 65, remembered that “Rudy had a strong impact on us while he lived, just as strong as when he passed. He had a spirit that was indomitable!”
It’s a spirit that lives on in the indoor tourney.
With approximately 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with nine leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.
Tournament photos above courtesy of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association.