By Jac St. Jean
With so many decorated athletes that have come out of Springfield College in its storied and legendary history, it’s no surprise that ‘The Birthplace’ also educated a future pioneer of women’s soccer.
On Saturday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m. in the Springfield College Archives and Special Collections, the late Tony DiCicco ‘70 was honored and recognized for his accomplishments during and after leaving Springfield College. Attendees waltzed through the room, some alumni reliving their days on campus, others exploring new memorabilia recently added.
All were welcomed and introduced to the celebration of 40 years of women’s soccer and the new Tony DiCicco ‘70 Collection. The collection included statistics, documents, jerseys, and game balls from DiCicco’s career as a player for not only the Pride, but also the American Soccer League, and his career as a coach for the United States women’s national soccer team from 1994 to 1999. In this time, DiCicco led the women’s team to a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics and a FIFA World Cup in 1999.
Before he began his coaching career, DiCicco played for the Pride and was named co-captain in 1969. DiCicco earned All-American status as a goalkeeper for Springfield, and even played professionally for five years, including a brief stint with the men’s national team in 1973. President Mary-Beth Cooper kicked off the historic celebration.
“Today is about the DiCicco family,” Cooper said. “What I love about this weekend is [the representation of] the past, the present, and more importantly it’s the future.”
Dr. Craig Poisson, executive director of athletics, introduced and recognized the past, present, and future members of women’s soccer at Springfield. These attendees included the first women’s coach and retired professor at Springfield College, Herb Zettl, some of his former players from his coaching career, current head coach of the women’s soccer team John Gibson and some of his former and current players. Also in attendance were DiCicco’s wife, Diane, and one of their sons, Anthony.
“The things we’re talking about here, the things we have here,” DiCicco’s son explained, “Are really indicators of how one person, through the application of knowledge and experience, and the desire to grow, throughout a lifetime can change the world.”
DiCicco’s FIFA World Cup in 1999 put women’s U.S. soccer on the map and led to a boom in women’s soccer all across the country. DiCicco broke barriers as a male coach for a team composed of all women. He was said to have had a calm demeanor and an open mind when it came to working with his players. One item encased in the collection was a thank you letter from one of his players.
The event culminated in a toast led by Dr. Poisson, who toasted to the unveiling of the Tony DiCicco collection. The Tony DiCicco ‘70 Soccer Exhibit and more can be found in the Springfield College Museum in Judd Gymnasia.
Photo: Springfield College