By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
February 3, 2016-The pasta and wine were flowing in Howard Beach this past Sunday when Teresa Petruccelli-Weston was honored as the Italian-American Woman of the Year. The ceremony took place at Russo’s on the Bay.
Teresa is the third consecutive woman from the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) to be given this honor. In 2014, the Italian-American Soccer League of New York (IASL) honored Cathy O’Brien, who despite the award is 100% Irish-American, as its Woman of the Year. Cathy, who was the Operations Administrator of Eastern New York before her retirement last year, was honored for her enthusiastic commitment to the OlympicDevelopment Program (ODP) trips to Italy. Last year, a bit of normalcy returned to the award as the IASL honored Gina Titus, 100% Italian-American, for her more than three decades of working as a soccer volunteer.
Teresa continues the pattern of honoring women who have given much of their lives to soccer. She comes from a soccer family and her father, Giulio, an Eastern New York Soccer Hall of Famer, is from Santi Cosma e Damiano in Italy while her mother, Nancy, hails from Sicily. Teresa played on a boys team with the Auburndale Soccer Club of the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) until she was 12 years old. She then played on the first girls team for the LIJSL’s New York Hota Soccer Club, serving as team captain, with her team winning the State Open Cup three consecutive years.
Teresa also developed into a top player with Eastern New York ODP and Region 1 ODP. Another highlight of her soccer career was competing for the Long Island Lady Riders in 1996 and 1997, helping lead them to the W-League national championship in ‘97 as a teenager while playing against opponents a decade older than her.
At St. Francis Prep in Queens, she was a four-year starter, captained the Terriers for two years and scored an amazing 95 goals. She became the first girl from Auburndale to gain a full scholarship to a Division 1 college, leading another team called the Terriers as she was a two-year captain, four years All-Conference and helped Boston University win two America East titles and make the NCAA playoffs twice. Teresa was also honored as the America East Rookie of the Year. She graduated in 2002 with a degree in Communications and Sociology, married her husband Bobby and now they have three children––Julia, Peter and Alessandro.
In 2007, Teresa began training various girls travel and premier teams. She also founded the First Kicks Soccer Program for the Auburndale Soccer Club. First Kicks introduces children from ages three to five to the wonderful sport of soccer. The program has grown and expanded to various locations on Long Island’s North Shore.
The now Manhasset resident also founded the first adaptive soccer program for special needs children in the Auburndale Soccer Club and it holds a special place in her heart.
In her acceptance speech, Teresa said, “Women’s soccer has come a long way. When I was growing up in Queens, not many parents were pushing their girls to play soccer, so I was forced to play on a boy’s team. All my success is a direct result of my parent’s love and encouragement, on and off the field. Some people rolled their eyes at my parents when they enrolled me in soccer. Others criticized them. But my parents, my coaches and my teammates at Auburndale never told me that, as a girl, I had no place on the soccer field. With their guidance, I learned that I could do anything I wanted do if I worked hard and kept trying. That’s the lesson I try to share with my children and now, as a coach, with my players on the field.”
Congratulations to Teresa Petruccelli-Weston, the Italian-American Woman of the Year!
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.
(Teresa Petruccelli-Weston is front and center, being honored by the Italian-American Soccer League of New York. Photo courtesy of the Petruccelli family.)