By Andrew Wroblewski
A coach since he was just 15 years old, Dix Hills Soccer Club’s Rocco Avallone was honored on Jan. 25 by the Italian-American Soccer League of New York (IASL), which recognized him as the 2015 Italian-American Man of the Year.
“Being the Italian-American Man of the Year holds a lot of significance to my dad,” Avallone’s son, Matthew, said. “I am very proud of this achievement because it represents countless hours of hard work and dedication to a game my dad has been a part of for over 30 years.”
Born in Italy, Avallone made the move to the United States with his family when he was 3 years old. He and his family joined the community of Flushing, Queens and lived there from 1966-1999. Since then, Avallone has lived in Dix Hills, where he would soon start working for the Dix Hills Soccer Club as a coach in 2002.
Prior to that, though, Avallone took to the pitch himself in 1980 when he played for S.S. Cosma & Damiano as a defender and midfielder for the team, which participated in the IASL. Now, he plays as a goalkeeper and forward on the team in the second division of the Long Island Football Soccer Football League (LISFL). S.S. Cosma & Damiano has taken Avallone on tours of the country twice, but he’s also found a home in Dix Hills, where he’s played as a defender on the LISFL’s Dix Hills Apaches.
As a 15-year-old, prior to his coaching career with the Dix Hills Soccer Club, Avallone began coaching a boys-under-8 team for the Auburndale Soccer Club in 1979. Now, both Auburndale and Dix Hills play in the Long Island Junior Soccer League’s (LIJSL) First Division and Eastern New York Premier League (ENYPL).
“The news of Rocco winning the award did not come as a surprise to us, having seen the amount of hard work he puts into everything he does,” said Jo Ann Linden, whose son, Connor, now a freshman in college, played on the boys-under-18 Dix Hills Juventus team Avallone coaches.
Linden regards Avallone as talented, dedicated, sincere, kind and generous in the way he coaches.
“Since the very beginning of Dix Hills Juventus we have all seen him try hard to achieve the best results for the team and for each and every one of our boys,” Linden said in a press release. “He made a huge impact in Connor’s life and, I am certain, so many of the boys!”
Away from the game of soccer, Avallone practices law in New York and Connecticut as a partner with Avallone & Bellistri, LLP in New Hyde Park.
Avallone’s son, Matthew, plays for Dix Hills Juventus, the LIJSL’s Player Developmental Program and Half Hollow Hills High School West’s varsity squad. Following in his father’s footsteps, Matthew has appeared as a guest player for S.S. Cosma & Damiano.
“Everyone around [my dad] appreciates all that he does for the game of soccer,” Matthew said.