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Glen Cove Junior Soccer Parade Heralds

September brings cooler temperatures, the start of a new school year and, for residents of Glen Cove and its surrounding communities, the beginning of another great season of Junior Soccer.

In keeping with a decades-old tradition, the young players, their parents, the coaches, board members and elected officials marked opening day by parading through the streets of downtown Glen Cove on their way to the John Maccarone Memorial Stadium where kick-off ceremonies are held before the games begin.

The Glen Cove Junior Soccer Program was founded 44 years ago by Marco Malusa as an outgrowth of the adult soccer program he had started 12 years prior to that.  “We started the junior soccer program with 40 kids and today we have 435 kids playing on a total of 44 teams,” said Malusa.  

The success of the league, which enrolls students from kindergarten through ninth grade, depends totally on volunteer efforts.  Local businesses sponsor teams and provide financial support and scholarships. Coaches and board members serve without compensation.

“The parents and the board are tremendous,” said board president Ken Pilla. “This program really pulls the whole community together.”

Board member Martin Carmody explained the three core components of the program:  participation, learning and fun. “The whole purpose of the league,” said Carmody, “is to give the kids an opportunity to experience soccer, have fun and meet new friends.”  Carmody’s four children all played in the league and his youngest son now serves as a referee.  

For many in Glen Cove, participation in Junior Soccer has spanned generations. Barbara Lebowitz, who watched the parade from the sidelines as her son, Coach Rob Lebowitz, and her grandson Jake marched by, was especially excited.  All three of her children had participated in the league when they were young, “and now,” she said, “here I am watching my son march as a coach for my grandson.  What a thrill!”  

Rob Lebowitz coaches a team of first grade boys sponsored by the Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Department. “I played in this league from the time I was in kindergarten until I was in ninth grade. I also played on the traveling team.   Coaching for the league is a great way for me to give back for all the great times I had as a kid,” said Lebowitz.

As the paraders made their way into the stadium and gathered in a semicircle for opening ceremonies, they were greeted with the strains of “We Are The Champions” blaring out of the loud speakers. Founder Marco Malusa looked out at the sea of smiling young faces and remarked, “Who ever thought 44 years ago that today I would be looking at this beautiful view of all these boys and girls getting ready for a new season?”

The league and the city recognized the hard work of outgoing board president Ken Pilla and also honored Terry Daily, a Parks and Recreation Department worker in charge of taking care of the fields.

“Terry is not just an employee,” said Pilla, “he is a true partner with this league, always going above and beyond. He is a man of generous heart who just wants everything to be enjoyable for the kids.”  On behalf of the city, Mayor Ralph Suozzi  presented Daily with a citation recognizing all that he does for the city fields on a daily basis. “This is a special day in a special city,” said Mayor Suozzi.

In recognition of Daily, the league broke with tradition.  nstead of the mayor kicking the ceremonial “first ball,” the honor was given to Daily’s young nephew, Aiden. Mayor Suozzi was relegated to position of goalie. Aiden’s kick got past goalie Suozzi and the season officially began.  

“Right after the opening ceremonies, it started to drizzle,” said Coach Lebowitz. “Then it began to pour, but the kids played through the rain and all had a great time anyway.”

“It’s going to be another outstanding year,” said Pilla.