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WoSo world remembers Tony DiCicco

Tuesday we learned of Tony DiCicco’s passing. Immediately, tributes began to pour in from every corner of the globe. From those he coached on the world stage to lives he touched in obscurity there was no shortage of outpouring for the iconic figure. Here are some excerpts taken from social media as well as some compiled independently by The Equalizer

“On top of being an outstanding coach and leader, Tony was just a really nice guy. I don’t think he was ever given the credit, or the thanks, he deserved. What his teams accomplished in ’96 and ’99 was remarkable, especially given the pressure they were under. His place in women’s sports history is not as prominent as it should be.”
  –Tim Nash, Equalizer contributor and author of It’s Not the Glory

”Tony was a pioneer and visionary of our sport and for women’s soccer. I only met Tony on a few occasions but his lifelong commitment to the game and his impact on women’s soccer resonated with me always.”
  –Amanda Duffy, NWSL managing director

”Tony was more than a coach. I always felt like he cared more about me as a person than as a player. He lead from a place of love. Love of the game, love of people. His belief in me when I played for him was unwavering and a big reason why not only I flourished but the whole Breakers team/organization. He helped so many of us women believe in ourselves more and that is something we will carry with us forever. I love that man and already miss him dearly.”
  –Jordan Angeli, played under DiCicco, 2010-2011

“It’s an oft-told story, but when I think of Tony DiCicco, the first thing that comes to my mind is his decision to have Brandi Chastain take that fifth penalty kick in the ’99 World Cup Final with her non-favored foot especially after missing a penalty earlier in the year. I’m not sure how many coaches would have that kind of decision, especially in a quite literally, life-altering moment. It was a gutsy call that every reader and writer at Equalizer Soccer has benefited from.”
  –Jennifer Gordon, Equalizer staff writer

“Words can’t express the feelings that the soccer family is feeling today with the passing of Tony. He’s meant so much to so many of us. He was a great ambassador for the NSCAA, and more importantly for women’s soccer. There’s arguably no other coach in the U.S. that has impacted women’s soccer the way he did. Our prayers are with his family whom he loved dearly.”
  –Randy Waldrum, former head coach of Notre Dame, Houston Dash et al


“So much of my soccer life has included Tony DiCicco. When I started following the United States, like so many of us, Tony DiCicco was the coach, so he’s the first soccer coach I ever really knew. He was commissioner of the WUSA when I covered that league. In 2007, when we both worked at ESPN, he was nice enough to give me the time, and his analysis, for a few great interviews during the World Cup for my little unknown podcast, which I’ve always appreciated.

Then in 2009-2011, I got to cover him as coach of the Boston Breakers in the WPS. He was always straight forward and said what he felt, even if it sometimes got him into trouble with the league (officiating, the playoff format). I often think of something he said postgame or the way he explained coaching and the game. I learned a lot about the game of soccer from talking to him those three years. And then there was the playoff game at Soldiers Field (now Jordan Field) in 2010 when the press box was close enough to be on the Breakers bench — and being able to hear him coaching, and sharing some words for the referees, was an experience I won’t forget.

It was nice to run into him again before the SheBelieves games in New Jersey in March.”
  –Jacqueline Purdy, content manager, NWSL Media


“Tony’s contributions and achievements in women’s soccer speak for themselves. He was not only a great coach but more importantly a great human being. He will be missed!”
  –Rory Dames, head coach Chicago Red Stars


“I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony DiCicco in 2014 on the 15th anniversary of the 99ers World Cup triumph.

Despite 15 years of passing, you could hear in his voice how much that moment still sat fondly in his memory. But what was refreshing, was that he didn’t want that victory to define U.S Women’s Soccer, he wanted more World Cup wins and was incredibly confident that with the talent at Jill Ellis’ disposal, that they could win the 2015 World Cup. He was proved right!

I met him at the World Cup, he remembered who I was and was an absolute gentleman. Knowledgeable, passionate and a great ambassador for the game. He’ll be sorely missed.”
  –Kieran Theivam, Equalizer staff writer and founder of wosozone.com


“I always loved listening to him talk about soccer. There was so much honesty behind his insight, especially when it came to youth development. He seemed to truly care about the future of American soccer, the wellbeing of young athletes and creating overall better and more well-rounded soccer players.”
  –Jennifer Beekman, Equalizer staff writer

“When Tony DiCicco’s mother was born, her parents were so happy to have a daughter, after three sons, that they named her Welcome. DiCicco has been just as gladly received as coach of the women’s national soccer team.

‘I got a lot of my motivation for women’s athletics from my mother,’ DiCicco said. ‘She used to shoot baskets with me in the driveway. She was a great swimmer. I always knew girls could play, because I played with her.’

At 50, with four sons of his own, he still lives in his hometown of Wethersfield, Conn., a mile from his parents. On Saturday, he will coach the biggest game of his life when the United States meets China in the final of the Women’s World Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Naturally, the welcome mat has been rolled out.

‘I’m not sure if my mother is coming, but I’ve got a ticket for her if she does,’ DiCicco said today.”
  –Jere Longman, author of Girls of Summer, from July 6, 1999 New York Times article

“I remember his dedication as Commissioner of WUSA to working hard to try to save the league because he so believed in the product of women’s soccer.”
  –Tim Grainey, Equalizer staff writer


“I once defeated Tony DiCicco in a soccer match. It’s true.

DiCicco ran SoccerPlus here in Connecticut (he started running camps by that name in 1982, truly the infancy of women’s soccer) and probably could have pawned coaching duties of his teams off on people and just cashed their checks, especially after winning the World Cup in 1999. But there he was on the sideline of a fairly random U-12 game a decade ago, still instructing, still loving the process.

He set himself up for the usual barbs from parents of opposing teams in the cut-throat world of youth soccer (trust me if you’ve never been there) by doing so: he must have gotten lucky, clearly the times have passed him by, he doesn’t have Mia Hamm to save him now.

But DiCicco never seemed to care. He loved the game of soccer. He loved coaching. And so he did. Whether it was the World Cup or WPS or a U-12 game on an overused field in front of a few parents in the middle of Connecticut mattered little. Sadly, that attitude is not as prevalent as you would think in the not-so-grassroots world of youth athletics, where if winning isn’t king than money often is.

His team lost that afternoon, and during play, DiCicco had some mildly critical comments for his girls, but he was all smiles afterward. It was a beautiful day and there would soon be another game or training session somewhere, another chance to work with the game and players he loved, whether they be little kids or big kids performing in front of 90,000 people.”
  –Ray Curren, Equalizer staff writer


“Tony DiCicco was the national team coach when I first began watching the team in the mid-to-late 90s. Although his legend is built on the ’99 team, I never felt he got enough credit for navigating that team through the year and the tournament. The organizers had made the event a really big deal and the pressure to succeed was immense.

Later when he coached the Breakers, Tony was always quick to take a call or to return a call. For a fairly young writer trying to cover the sport, it’s a pretty big confidence booster when the sport’s most famous coach takes the time to call you back. And when we spoke, no topic was ever off limits, and rarely if ever did he refuse to answer a question. Sometimes I even asked a few extra questions just to get more time to pick his brain about soccer.”
  –Dan Lauletta, Equalizer managing editor

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