2017 5th Annual NYC Soccer Gala Honorees

March, 1 2017 | New York Athletic Club



Emil Cohill, Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League

Emil Cohill

Born in Lovran, Croatia, Cohill made the inroads in the local soccer world primarily with high-quality Dalmatinac Club where he played full-back for the club’s nearly entire 27 years of existence. When an opportunity arose in 1976 to do more than just play, Cohill made himself available as the league secretary under then-President Herb Heilpem. He has been a stalwart ever since, the pulse, the heart and the soul of the league. He does it all and wants credit for none.

Initially in charge of registration and scheduling, his job description has extended over the years to every imaginable aspect, including running the indoor tournament single-handed ever since. His strength, then and now, is that he wants to be on the field and in touch with what goes on. He does that through referring the games that he helps to organize.

“He’s a computer that the league doesn’t have,’’ said CJSL President Carlo Bucich, adding jokingly “it’s all in his head, but the refereeing leaves a lot to be desired.”

While Cohill wishes there were more younger folks involved - “old guys running youth leagues, something is wrong with that” - the league needs people who get the job done, which for the past years has been Emil Cohill.

Perhaps his unchanged role the league secretary was best summed up by his wife Toni who said that Emil is not ambitious enough and reached his limit as the CJSL secretary. Fortunately for youth soccer in New York City, he not only reached his limit, he perfected it. He played Fordham University Soccer for 3 years and was the team MVP in 1962, graduating in 1963. He has been refereeing since 1981. In 2003 when he was inducted to the CJSL Hall of Fame. He is also in the ENYSA Hall of Fame.


Martin Jacobson, Martin Luther King High School

Martin Jacobson

Martin Jacobson, also known as Coach Jake, is an educator who has worked in Public Schools over 45 years as a coach, teacher, counselor and athletic director.

A native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, Coach Jake believes that we are on earth for two reasons; to learn life’s lessons and to help others.

Martin Jacobson, a highly successful high school and college player, began coaching in 1968. Working first in New York, and then in Michigan and New Mexico, Coach Jacobson continued to coach and teach in the Public Sector. He pioneered the sport of soccer in the State of New Mexico and was the first Public High School soccer coach in that state. Returning back home in the mid 1980’s, Jake coached at two New York City public high schools, before finding a home at Martin Luther King, Jr., High School in Manhattan.
Taking over a team that went winless in 1993, Coach Jake molded a dynasty and a national powerhouse at MLK. Martin Luther King, over the last 20 years, has won the coveted New York City Public High School Championship 16 times. His teams have amassed a record of 432 wins, 21 losses and 10 ties. MLK High School has been nationally ranked (top 20) 9 times over the last two decades. Martin Jacobson is the most winning soccer coach in the history of the New York City Public School Athletic League.
His program has a 96% graduation rate and hundreds of players have gone on to numerous colleges and universities, with more than a dozen student athletes going on to the professional ranks.
Working with a large, diverse population of young men from around the world, Coach Jake, in collaboration with others, provides social services for the health and wellbeing of his players that goes beyond coaching. His goal is to achieve a better life for each soccer player who comes through the doors of MLK!


Charles Balsamo, Columbia University

Charles Balsamo

Charles D. Balsamo is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of UNITY CONSTRUCTION GROUP. Under his leadership, UNITY has established itself as one of the premier construction companies in the New York City marketplace. Previously, Charles was Executive Vice President of Oxford Construction Development, wherein he simultaneously managed a New York City construction portfolio and an emerging-growth Philadelphia real estate company. Charles graduated from Columbia University’s Columbia College in 1996, with a Bachelor of Arts degree and an Economics major. After his undergraduate studies, Charles completed certificate programs, in both Real Estate and Finance, from New York University’s School of Professional Studies. Charles continued his graduate studies at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and graduated in 2005 with a Masters of Business Administration.

Charles serves as the Chairman of the Columbia University Men’s Soccer Board of Directors and is very proud of what the coaching staff, the board and the athletic department have achieved over the last decade; with the highlights being the dedication of the Rocco B. Commisso Stadium in 2013 and winning the Ivy League Championship in 2016. Charles also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Italian American Foundation and is on the Board of Directors for the New York City Building Contractors Association.

Charles is a native Philadelphian and attended Willian Penn Charter High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete and received 12 varsity letters. Charles was a two-time Captain of the soccer team, 4-time All-Inter-Ac, Inter-Ac MVP, All-Southeastern Pennsylvania and All-State soccer player. Charles played club soccer with FC Delco and was a six-time member of the Pennsylvania State team, as well as a multi-year member of the U.S. Olympic Development Program. Charles was a four-year member of the Columbia Men’s Soccer team, two-time Captain, All-Ivy player and member of the 1993 Ivy League Championship team. Charles was selected for and competed in the 1993 U.S Olympic Festival.

Charles is forever in love with his wife of 18 years, Jennifer (Super-Wife & Super-Mom, too!). Charles and Jen are blessed with two wonderful boys, Charles (13) and John (9), and the family resides in Manhasset, New York.


Kevin Daly, St. John's University

Kevin Daly

One of the most decorated players in the storied history of St. John’s soccer, Kevin Daly starred for the Red Storm from 1994-97, helping elevate the program to the highest level imaginable.

After playing a part in back-to-back BIG EAST Championships for the Red Storm in 1994 and 1995, Daly and his teammates entered the 1996 season looking to move past the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, where they had suffered losses in each of those two conference title seasons. Following a second-round exit in the BIG EAST Tournament, the Red Storm entered the NCAA Tournament with a renewed commitment to their cause, rattling off five-straight wins en route to the school’s first-ever national championship.

For his efforts that year, Daly was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. The following season, Daly was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team NSCAA All-American.

A teacher, Daly lives on Long Island with his wife, Larissa, and their four children: Shay, Laila, Declain and Cian.


Chris Donovan, Fordham University

Chris Donovan

Chris Donovan’s soccer journey began in Oceanside, NY at the age of 5. Before making his way to Fordham, Chris played for Oceanside United under the guidance of Jim Volpe. During this time he also played for the NY State Team, Regional Team, and two time Empire State Team.

Chris originally agreed to attend West Point but as destiny would have it, he made a last minute decision to change paths and attend Nassau Community College. After playing at NCC for one year, Chris was recruited by Coach Schnur to play at Fordham University. During his first year of play at Fordham University he was named to the Loyola All-Tournament Team and at the end of season was the recipient of the “F Block” Award, Team MVP and named Co-captain.

As a sophomore, Chris helped lead Fordham to a 10-7-1 record in 1990 and earned a spot in the inaugural Patriot League Championship. The Rams went on to post shutout wins over Colgate and Lafayette to win the league title with Donovan being named the Championship’s Most Valuable Player.

Following his graduation in 1992, Chris was recruited and continues to work for RR Donnelley, a Fortune 500 integrated communications company that provides marketing and business communications, commercial printing, and related services across the globe.

When not in the office, Chris can often be found on the soccer field with his 4 year old son Christian where he volunteers as a coach for the Smithtown Kickers program. Chris is married to Yvette and has 2 sons Ryan and Christian and resides on Long Island. In his spare time, Chris also volunteers and supports animal rescue groups such as North Shore Animal League and the Humane Society.


Mario Fava. Francis College

Mario Fava

Mario Fava, the son of an Italian immigrant who taught him to put “110 percent or not do it at all,” first learned of the passion needed to make it in a competitive industry by witnessing his father waiting tables. He then applied his father’s work ethic at the age of 15 by clearing tables and doing the dishes.

His only departure from the restaurant industry was when he ventured to Brooklyn in 1986 to join the Terrier Men’s Soccer Team, as the goalkeeper from the Bronx. Joining a team full of Brooklyn and Trinidadians alike, Mario and one other teammate
represented the Borough of the Bronx. The self-proclaimed “record holder for non-reported concussions”, Mario was such a strong presence as the last line of defense for the Terriers, despite the foam helmet he was mandated to wear.

Mario’s four years with the Terriers culminated with his graduation in 1989; a memory he will never forget. After graduation, Mario went onto play professional soccer for 2 years, building memories and friendships that remain strong to this day.

In 1994, Mario returned to the Restaurant industry and opened his first restaurant, Lusardi’s, with his father. He currently owns 3 other restaurants, Moscato, Chat 19, and Chat in respective order. In Mario’s own words, the service, quality of food and environment at each one of his restaurants is what makes them so special. It’s the people who make each and every one feel like they are right in your kitchen, at home with family.

Mario currently lives in Eastchester, NY with his wife Teresa and daughters Simona and Cinzia and son Luca.


Mickey Kydes, LIU Brooklyn

Mickey Kydes

Mickey Kydes was a two-time All-American and an integral member of the men’s soccer program at LIU Brooklyn from 1982-85. Kydes tallied 34 goals in his collegiate career, which ranked 13th on the program’s all-time list at the time of his induction, along with 35 assists.

One of the most gifted midfielders in the nation, Kydes helped the Blackbirds reach a number five national ranking in 1982 en route to a 20-1-2 campaign, the most wins in program history. A part of two NCAA Tournament teams (1982, 1985), he was drafted out of college in the 1986 Major Indoor Soccer League by the Dallas Sidekicks, and played 29 games for them, including winning an MISL championship.

Following his time with Sidekicks, he played for the U.S. soccer team at the 1987 Pan American Games, and then spent three seasons playing abroad in Greece. Upon his return, he spent time in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and USISL, before becoming one he was one of six former LIU players selected in the inaugural Major League Soccer draft in 1996. Kydes would spend one season playing in the MLS for the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars before his retirement.

He was inducted into the LIU Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 2008. He now owns Mickey Kydes Soccer Enterprises, and runs a series of soccer camps, as well as serving as president of Beachside Soccer Club
of Connecticut.


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