2009 Rec. Coaches of the Year
With more than 5,000 young players competing and practicing on any given week during the season, DC Stoddert Soccer coaches have a awesome responsibilities. And 2009 tested their mettle. The usual field crunch was exacerbated this spring by record rains that cancelled practices and games, and nearly cut the travel season short. Tragedy struck as well: longtime coach and commissioner Kelly Murray and her daughter, Sloane, lost their lives when a tree toppled during a summer storm and hit their minivan.
This year, to honor their memory, Stoddert Soccer inaugurates a new award: The Kelly and Sloane Murray Girls’ Recreational Coach of the Year. Please join me in congratulating the first winner, Dino Merotto, who joins John Menditto, recipient of the 2009 Len Olicer Coach of the Year. Their inspiring work as coaches and role models shone through in the many testimonials that parents and players submitted and are excerpted in their bios, below.
The awards ceremony took place Dec. 9 at the Annual General Meeting at Jelleff club house, 7:30 pm. For a full report on the winners, click HERE.
Len Oliver, DC Stoddert Soccer Director of Coaching, provided the following tributes:
2009 Len Oliver Coach of the Year (Coed)
John, a Texas-born Air Force kid who grew up in England and former standout George Washington University player, holds the USSF F and E Certificates, along with the USSF D License, having taken all the courses with DC Stoddert Soccer. As one parent wrote: "My sons have been coached by many, many men and women in various sports over the years. John Menditto has all the qualities one would want for their child: kindness, enthusiasm and playing field smarts. He knows the game of soccer and he teaches it well."
Other parents called John "patient, skillful, exercising fairness, and expressing positive attitudes towards the game," all ideal qualities for
soccer coaching. John has also been called "a long-term model of good sportsmanship ... and commitment." His players seem to love and respect him. And another said, "I have the highest respect for John’s coaching skills...."
Menditto, coaching at DC Stoddert for some seven years, mostly with Key School youngsters on his "Cats" team, which was formed in 2004. For parents, John Menditto is both "role model" and "mentor for the boys." He has accepted boys from Algeria, Chile, and other countries, some of whom couldn’t speak English when they started with John in DC Stoddert Soccer.
In one ringing endorsement for John, a long-time Cats’ parent said: "John should win the award because he: (a) has kept a group of neighborhood boys together since 2004, more than half their life, (b) his team has improved each year, (c) his players show respect for their opponents and referees, and (d) he is, perhaps, the biggest advocate for youth soccer in the Palisades." We might add that John
hosts weekly pickup games at Palisades for anyone who shows up, "for people ranging in age from 4-year olds to grandparents. It is a blast."
We might also add that John has "fostered a sense of community with the Cats," encouraging "a fun atmosphere during practices and games." Another parent, whose son, Riley, plays on the team, commented: "Playing with the Cats has been an exceptionally wonderful experience for Riley and his teammates.... Certainly it will be one of Riley’s most valued ... childhood experiences--both as a person and as an athlete."
DC Stoddert is pleased to recognize John Menditto for, as one parent put it, "his many years of remarkable achievements as a coach, mentor, and friend to our children and to our community."
2009 Kelly and Sloane Murray Girls’ Recreational Coach of the Year (Girls)
An Englishman and former semi-pro player, Dino Merotto has taken both the F and E certification courses, leading one parent to write: "Dino provides fundamental skill development instruction, using age appropriate instruction." He uses soccer drills "to imprint soccer instincts in his players," with every one of his players exhibiting "dramatic skill development" and "team play."
Dino, a senior economist at the World Bank, travels extensively, but in one parent’s words, "he has tried so hard to get back for every single game." Dino coaches both the U8 Raptors and the Girls U8 Pythons. He seems always "to arrive on time for his team’s practices, ... is prepared with a focused and specific set of instruction objectives, and stays focused on his mission throughout practice." Parents say "there is no yelling," with the instruction "always positive and encouraging," and Dino’s ability "to provide superior instruction in soccer fundamentals."
Dino sends weekly, detailed e-mails to his players with full game analysis, what to work on, complimentary notes, and player performances. As one parent put it, "Dino clearly has a vision of the development of a soccer player...." He has been called "the ultimate gentleman on the field, promoting good sportsmanship on the part of the players and parents." Almost all his players come back, season after season.
According to one parent, "Dino gives his heart and soul in his practices and at the games.... He gives so much of his time and of himself both to the girls and to the parents. Dino has worked hard with the girls to develop their skills, self-confidence and the meaning of
being a teammate.... The girls adore and look up to Dino, who "has also been a solid coach to the parents reminding us the importance of good sportsmanship, keeping quiet on the sidelines and supporting their child."
Dino Merotto brings a love of soccer, enthusiasm for the game, knowledge of the technical and tactical aspects of soccer, and a willingness to share his vast knowledge with both players and parents alike. Given his strong background, one parent simply said, "His knowledge and love of the game adds immensely to his coaching."
posted 12/05/09 by MCL Updated 12/10/2009 Photos by Woody Landay for DC Stoddert Soccer.