2015 Honorees

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

 

Claudio Reyna Manfred Schellsheidt Charlie Stillitano Richard Chinapoo
Rocco B. Commisso Roberto DeLuca Gaetano Messina Jack Shannon

Claudio Reyna, Sporting Director of NYCFC

Claudio played professionally for 12 years in three European countries for five different teams: Bayer Leverkusen and Vfl Wolfsburg in Germany, Glasgow Rangers F.C. in Scotland, then Sunderland FC and Manchester City FC in the English Premier League. When with Vfl Wolfsburg, he was the first American player to ever wear the captain's armband in a European league. Before his retirement in 2008, Claudio played his last professional season in United States with NY Red Bulls.

Claudio represented the United States National team in 4 World Cups from 1994 through 2006, serving as team Captain in 2002 and 2006. He also represented the US in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, making in total 112 appearances for his country. He was the first American player to be selected to the FIFA All World Cup team for his performances during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, confirming his place as one of the greatest ever soccer players produced by the US. In 2012 Claudio’s significant achievements in the game were recognised by being inducted into the U.S National Soccer Hall of Fame

After his retirement from professional soccer in 2008, Claudio launched the Claudio Reyna Foundation with the goal to nurture, encourage and develop the sport in America while fighting poverty and childhood obesity.

In 2010 Claudio was appointed the Youth Technical Director of the US Soccer Federation where he worked for three years helping to modernize the approach to youth player development and put the US on a path to success.

Claudio left his post with US Soccer In 2013 when presented with the unique opportunity to become Sporting Director and the first ever employee for the newly formed MLS franchise New York City Football Club.

For almost two years now, Claudio has been building New York City FC from the ground up. He has lead major initiatives designed to bring New York's vibrant and widespread youth soccer community closer together. NYCFC's Youth Affiliate program has worked to engrain the club in to local communities throughout the five boroughs. Claudio has brought in an impressive mix of Major League Soccer expertise and world class football know-how, highlighted by the acquisition of Head Coach Jason Kreis, Assistant Coach Miles Joseph and the signings of international legends David Villa and Frank Lampard.

New York City FC kicks off its inaugural season at Yankee Stadium in March 2015.

 

Manfred Schellscheidt, National Soccer Hall of Famer, Former Seton Hall University Coach

One of the most renowned soccer coaches in the United States, Manfred Schellscheidt spent 24 seasons as the head coach of the Seton Hall men’s soccer program. A committed teacher of the game of soccer, he has enjoyed a distinguished career at every stop from the youth to international levels. The first coach in the United States to earn an “A-1” license, Schellscheidt has worked with some of the country’s most respected coaches, including Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley, while mentoring several players who have risen to the professional and international stage.

Schellscheidt’s coaching philosophy is to have his players learn by playing, which led to him becoming the winningest coach in Seton Hall history, compiling a 220-148-40 record and a 103-77-16 mark in BIG EAST Conference play. He guided the Pirates to two BIG EAST Championships, nine NCAA Tournament berths, seven conference title game appearances and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001. 

Under Schellscheidt’s direction the Pirates enjoyed some of their most successful campaigns in the program’s history.  Schellscheidt came to Seton Hall in 1988 after a one-year stint as assistant coach at Princeton University and quickly established SHU as a national power. In his first season at SHU, Schellscheidt piloted the team to 16-4-4 record and a final No. 3 ranking, its highest ever. The Pirates won their third straight BIG EAST title and reached the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals before losing to eventual national champion Indiana.

Known for his ability to nurture and develop talent, Schellscheidt coached five All-Americans at Seton Hall, including two-time first team selection Pat O’Kelly in 1988 and 1989. Sacha Kljestan became the second repeat All-American under Schellscheidt, earning first team honors in 2004 and third team in 2005. Schellscheidt helped Tom Houston earn second team honors in 1994, while Hector Zamora earned first team status in 1992 and Gerson Echeverry was a third team pick in 1991. Zamora (1992), O’Kelly (1990) and Greg Strohmann (2002) were also recipients of the prestigious BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award.

He coached the U.S. National Team in 1975 and led the 1984 United States Olympic Team and two editions of the U.S. Pan American Games team, along with numerous other youth national squads.
Schellscheidt, was inducted into the United States Soccer Hall of Fame and selected to the “Collegiate All-Coaches Team” by Soccer America in 1990. He was inducted into the New Jersey Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame in 1991 and was one of the first inductees into the College Soccer Association of New Jersey’s Wall of Fame in December 1995. Also in 1995, he received the “Spirit of the Game” award from the Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association of New Jersey, citing good sportsmanship and work with youth programs.

 

Charlie Stillitano, CEO of Relevent Sports, SiriusXM Soccer Announcer

One of the most influential soccer executives in the United States, Stillitano serves as the Chairman of Relevent Sports, North America’s premier soccer marketing company. 

Born into a soccer obsessed family, Stillitano starred at The Pingry School in New Jersey where he served as captain and was named 1st Team All State-All Groups.  Stillitano then moved to Princeton where he served as captain and capped off a four-career by being named an All-American.  After graduating, Stillitano played one year of professional soccer with New York United.  He then worked as an assistant coach at Princeton under Bob Bradley while finishing his law degree at Rutgers Law School.  After working as a lawyer for several years, Stillitano returned to the soccer world to become the Executive Director for the New York/New Jersey Venue at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.  That summer Giants Stadium hosted several matches including the semifinals.  

Stillitano then served as Vice-President and General Manager of the New York/New Jersey Metrostars of Major League Soccer from 1994-2000.  During his time at the helm of the club, the Metrostars signed worldwide stars Lothar Matthaeus and Roberto Donadoni as well as hiring World Cup winning-coaches Carlos Alberto Parreira of Brazil and Carlos Queiroz of Portugal.

While at the MetroStars, Stillitano began organizing international matches and tournaments to be played at Giants Stadium.  These events include the 1995 Parmalat Cup, 1996 FIFA World All-Star Game, 1996 U.S. Cup and many others.

Stillitano then founded and served as CEO of ChampionsWorld, the company that set the standard for international club tours in North America by working with clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, A.C. Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid.  He next moved to Creative Artists Agency where he helped found the World Football Challenge, a series of summer matches featuring some of the world’s top clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain.

Stillitano later helped found Relevent Sports who unveiled the International Champions Cup (ICC) in 2013. The tournament transformed the traditional European summer club friendlies into a full-fledged tournament featuring eight of the top clubs in the world. The ICC will return to North America this summer for the third consecutive year as well as premiering an Australian edition featuring Real Madrid, Manchester City and AS Roma. Relevent Sports also possess exclusive rights to the Brazilian national team and have organized five matches with the Selecao since 2013.

Stillitano also co-created and is the host of a daily soccer show on SiriusXM called “The Football Show.”

 

Richard Chinapoo, LIU Brooklyn

The only four-time All-American in any sport in LIU Brooklyn history, Richard Chinapoo left a lasting mark on the men’s soccer program. 

A standout on the team from 1978-81, he tallied 55 goals and helped the Blackbirds to a 51-13-8 ledger, including three conference championships. He ties for fourth on the LIU Brooklyn all-time scoring list, and holds school records for most goals in a single game with six and most points in a single game with 13.

In 1980, Chinapoo led LIU with 21 goals, as the Blackbirds went 13-3-1 and undefeated in the Metropolitan Conference. A year later in the 1981 season, Chinapoo helped the Blackbirds to a 17-2-3 slate, including a 4-0 Metropolitan Conference record, an NCAA tournament quarterfinal appearance, and a No. 6 national ranking. He earned First-Team All America honors in 1981, after being named to the Second Team the previous three. 

Chinapoo earned his degree in accounting from LIU in 1981. He went on to play professionally with several teams, including the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. He played for a number of Major Indoor Soccer League squads, including the Baltimore Blast and Dallas Sidekicks, before signing Harrisburg Heat, a member of the National Premier Soccer League. He made the switch to coaching in 2000.

He also represented Trinidad and Tobago during the 1980s, playing in several World Cup Qualifiers.

Chinapoo was honored in 2008 as part of the NCAA 50th Anniversary Team. He was inducted into the LIU Brooklyn Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2001.

 

Rocco B. Commisso, Columbia University

Rocco Commisso is one of the most successful Italian immigrant entrepreneurs in America’s history. His illustrious career in cable television spans over 36 years. He is the Chairman and CEO of Mediacom Communications, which he founded in 1995 and today is the nation’s 8th largest cable television company, with operations in 22 states, 4,600 employees and annual revenues in excess of $1.6 billion.

Rocco serves on the board of directors of NCTA, C-SPAN and CableLabs. He is a past recipient of the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the cable industry’s highest honor. He has been inducted into the Cable Center, Broadcasting & Cable, and SUNY New Paltz Business School Halls of Fame.

Born in Calabria, Italy, Commisso immigrated to America at the age of 12. He attended Columbia University, earning both a BS in Industrial Engineering and a MBA from the Graduate Business School, where he was elected president of the student body and was the recipient of the prestigious Business School Service Award.

Commisso played soccer for Columbia from 1967-1970. He was a member of an undefeated freshman squad and served as Co-Captain of the 1970 team that made Columbia’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Playoffs. He was a three-time All-Ivy Honoree, earning an invitation to the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team trials.

Over his 40 years as an active supporter of Columbia soccer, the men’s program has been the most successful in the Ivy League and among all major sports at the university. In the mid-1970’s, he co-founded Friends of Columbia Soccer, serving as its Chairman from 1978-1986, during which time Columbia won a record 8 straight Ivy Championships and became the only Ivy school ever to compete in the NCAA Championship Final game.

In 2004, the school’s newspaper, the Daily Spectator, listed Commisso among Columbia’s 250 greatest undergraduate alumni of all time. For years, Columbia has awarded an annual Men’s Soccer Prize in his name. In 2013, the university recognized his contributions by naming its soccer venue the Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium.

 

Roberto DeLuca, St. John's University

A two-time NSCAA All-Region selection and a two-time All-BIG EAST honoree, Robert DeLuca helped St. John’s reach its first-ever NCAA Tournament and was a member of three NCAA Tournament teams (1992-94). DeLuca also helped guide St. John’s to three-straight BIG EAST Tournament titles (1992-94) as well as two-straight BIG EAST regular season championships (1992-93).

In a four-year career, DeLuca played in 81 games, including 75 starts, and finished with 32 goals and 26 assists for a total of 90 points. DeLuca still ranks tied for fifth all-time in program-history in goals, fifth in assists and sixth in points.

DeLuca quickly made his mark as a freshman in 1991, registering a team-high eight goals to go with three assists. DeLuca tallied a hat trick against Iona, one of 20 all-time three-goal performances in the program’s history books.

St. John’s won both the BIG EAST Tournament and regular season titles and advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament in 1992 as DeLuca finished with 12 goals, a total that ties for ninth all-time in a single-season. The then-sophomore added six assists and earned second team All-Region honors.

DeLuca earned both second team All-BIG EAST and second team All-Region honors as a junior in 1993 as the squad repeated as both BIG EAST Tournament and regular season champions and made a second-straight  NCAA Tournament appearance. DeLuca finished with seven goals and also registered 14 assists, a total that ranks tied for first all-time in program-history.

DeLuca capped his career with a third-straight BIG EAST Tournament title and a third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. DeLuca finished with five goals and three assists, while earning second team All-BIG EAST honors.

He went on to play professionally with North Jersey Imperials, where he lead the team with 12 goals in his first year with the club, Staten Island Vipers and LI Rough Riders.

Today he is the owner of The Orchard Design, a design firm specializing in sports related brand development. He is responsible for designing and developing all of the creative for NYC Soccer Gala. He is also proud to have helped local soccer clubs develop their online presence such as BW Gottschee Soccer, LI Rough Riders, Woodhaven Soccer Club and Gold Coast FC. He resides in Glen Cove with his wife, Maria, and 3 children, Pasquale, Massimiliano and Isabella.

 

Gaetano Messina, St. Francis College

Gaetano Messina was born in Castellammare Del Golfo, a beautiful small town in Sicily.  In 1972, seeking a better future, Castrenze and Francesca Messina with their son Gaetano and daughter Cathy decided to immigrate to the US, settling in Brooklyn where they still reside today.

Gaetano attended Lafayette High School…  In 1975, Gaetano graduated from Lafayette High School and was selected to play in an All-City Team against Philadelphia.

Gaetano enjoyed college soccer and college life in general. He trained hard, continually refined his technical and tactical skills and matured as a midfielder and team captain.  In 1978 the Saint Francis College soccer team, under the leadership of Coach Carlo Tramontozzi and tactical direction from midfielder and team captain, Gaetano Messina, became the NY State Champion, defeating Adelphi in the semifinal and the Ivy League team of Columbia University in the final.  Considering all factors, it was a tremendous achievement for Saint Francis, a small Brooklyn College without even a home field, but with excellent leadership, great team effort and some outstanding individual talents to win the championship. That year, Saint Francis College ended up in the top 10 teams in the Country and Gaetano was nominated All American Player. The times at SFC were some of my best years.

In 1981, in recognition of his talent and contribution to the historical championship of 1978 with SFC, Gaetano was elected to Saint Francis College Hall of Fame. Gaetano played for the NY Eagles in the American Soccer League for three years.

In 1982, Gaetano was offered an opportunity and accepted a position with KLM. (Royal Dutch Airlines). Gaetano joined their soccer team and started traveling to play against teams from various countries all over the world. I was very fortunate to play with so many great players during that period.  From 1982 until 1995 Gaetano played with famous players such as Cabanas, Morais from the NY Cosmos, Eddy Breton from the Haitian National Team, the great Carlos Alberto from the Brazilian National Team, Gerd Muller, Giovanni Savarese ,  Steve Nash, Bruno Giordano, ... and last but not least, let’s not forget his friends who on a weekly basis still get together with Gaetano and play soccer, Joe Gulino, Antonio Cinquepalmi and Dan Sewell.

In 1985, Gaetano started a family that would grow to include Isabella, Bianca and Marco. “My kids are my pride and joy and are doing very well. Isabella and Bianca both got their Master Degree, the first ones in the Messina family.” He says proudly. Isabella is now working at NYU and Bianca is a Civil Engineer with Kanska. Marco just started College and doing very well academically.  

In the year 2000, Gaetano started working for Alitalia Airlines where he still holds the position of “Station Manager and Station Coordinator at the JFK airport. He says. “The airport has become my second home and has given me the opportunity to meet the Pope and many Heads of State. In 2009, he was sponsored by The General Consul of Italy in New York to become a “Cavaliere” (Equal to a Knight). He also has met many famous people from the gentleman Paolo Maldini, Ciro Ferrara, Sergio Brio to the great Roberto Baggio, Tony Renis and Mick Jagger. The ones that had the most impact on my life were the King Pele, the friend and funny Roberto Benigni and the humble Nino Manfredi. The one who made me most nervous was his Holiness, Benedict XVI.”

Gaetano is proud to have been part of the book “Gli Italiani di New York” (Italians of New York) by Maurizio Molinari. 

Gaetano concludes that the most important things in life are Family, God and Soccer. The Beautiful Game.

 

Jack Shannon, Fordham University

A three-time team MVP, Jack Shannon still remains among the Rams' all-time leading scorers, as one of only three players to amass over 40 goals and 100 points in a Fordham uniform.  He was inducted into the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame in 1989, becoming the first men's soccer player to receive that distinction.
With remarkable agility and scoring talent, Shannon finished his collegiate career as one of Fordham's most prolific scorers.  
 
Shannon opened his career with ten goals and three assists in 1979 and was named Second Team All-Metro.  By 1981, he was a First Team All-Metro selection, as well as Second Team All-State honoree, and a Tri-State All-Star.
 
A MAAC and Tri-State All-Star in 1982, Shannon finished with 20 goals and seven assists for 47 points, which included the first four-goal game in Fordham men's soccer history against Marist on September 18, 1982.  In teaming with fellow captain Lugris, Shannon led the Rams to an 11-2-3 record and both the MAAC and Tri-State league championships.  For his efforts, he received the Vincent T. Lombardi Award at the annual Block "F" Dinner, as Fordham's male student-athlete of the year.

Shannon, a native of Melville, New York played for the Hicksville American Youth Club from 1968-1980. From 1975-1979 he was a star at Hicksville High School earning All-American honors in 1978 and 1979. In 2014 Jack was inducted into the Long Island Junior Soccer League Hall of Fame. Following his career at Fordham University, the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the N.A.S.L. drafted Shannon in 1983. He continued his playing career with the NY Nationals (USL), NY Express (MISL) and the Greek American/ Atlas in New York City, Hicksville American Senior Team, Massapequa over 30, Islip over 30 and Lindenhurst over 40.

Jack will be celebrating his 31st wedding anniversary in March 17th to his wife Linda. Linda and Jack have four daughters: Jennifer, Jaclyn, Melissa and Keri.

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