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By Kim J. Harmon 



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By Kim J. Harmon


Even though he is 57 years old and his four sons have long since vanished from the youth sports scene (the youngest is 24), Pete D’Amico nevertheless is still out there roaming the sidelines for the Newtown Soccer Club.

And there seems to be no end in sight … which will work out quite well for the local athletes because Pete – in addition to running two soccer teams this year – has a vision of one day (very soon) erecting a sports complex in Newtown.

When his kids moved on, no one would have blamed Pete D’Amico for slipping into retirement and focusing more of his energy on his business. But because he stayed on and because he still wants to play a role in the lives of kids in Newtown, Pete D’Amico has been named to the Newtown Sports Hall of Fame.

Soccer Was The Ticket

Pete D’Amico learned the game of soccer back in Italy (without the aid of teams and leagues and parent organizations) and when he and his family came to the United States 43 years ago, it was all he knew.

But back then the sport of soccer was still a bizarre mystery to most Americans – who were far more enamored with baseball. That may have been why Pete first picked up the game of softball and (incidentally) started a nifty career as a pitcher.

“I learned very quickly that no one wanted to pitch. Since I didn’t know how to catch, I felt I could do that,” said Pete, who played the game until he was 40 and still fondly remembers his two no-hitters and an 11-inning, 17-strikeout masterpiece.

Pete was also an accomplished volleyball player, playing in high school and college.

Then the kids started coming along, opening up a whole new avenue to his life. Pete and his wife, Marie, have four sons – Peter, now 32; Tom, 29; Matt, 28; and Chris, 24. In 1980, the family moved to Newtown.

The kids started playing Little League baseball back in New Jersey and kept on playing when the family moved to Newtown. A few years later the kids started playing soccer, too, leading to those inevitable times when Pete was heading somewhere to a game and Marie was heading somewhere else to a game.

Pete started coaching soccer in 1983.

“I wanted to give something back,” said Pete. “All the years my kids were being coached by others, I felt I needed to give something back. I enjoyed soccer and enjoyed kids and felt it would be something good to do.”

After he followed his kids through the program (E Division for 10 years, F Division for four years and then on to travel) and the kids moved on, Pete paused for a moment but soon realized he missed coaching. In 1995, started with the near-legendary Strikers, who started as U10s and amassed a record of 152-16-18 in four years while capturing 10 tournament championships, six league championships, and three State Cup championships (all in the same year).

“It was phenomenal … unbelievable,” said Pete, who had the benefit of such talented players as Andrew Fiscella, Brian Miles, Devon Manfredonia, Matt Miller and Brian Smith. “We had a lot of very good athletes and we were able to mold them into a team.”

Pete once asked Matt Miller to go into his room and count how many trophies had on his desk or squirreled away somewhere and the kid found 33 of them.

Now that’s success.

In his final year with the Strikers (1998-99), Pete – at the behest of several parents, who had kids on the Strikers and other kids moving up to the U10 age level – took on another team. People might have figured that there was no way Pete could come close to matching what he had accomplished with the Strikers, but those people would have figured wrong.

“The team was just as successful,” said Pete. “Maybe there was not the same athletic ability, but they learned to played even better as a team.”

Oh yeah – the Vipers amassed an equally incredible record of 127-11-16 in three seasons while winning eight tournament championships, nine (of a possible nine) league championships, and three State Cup championships.

On just those two teams, Pete’s coaching record was a staggering 279-27-34.

That’s an .821 winning percentage.

“I’ve always noticed if the parents get together and work well, the kids will get together and work well,” said Pete. “It’s that atmosphere that I always try to find.”

As if coaching wasn’t enough, Pete – who does a lot of business abroad – has taken his teams to Europe twice and while touring countries like Italy, France and Switzerland, the kids have garnered memories that will last a lifetime (such as the fireworks display on the beach in Pisa, Italy).

“I spend probably eight to 10 hours a week on soccer,” said Pete. “The training, the games, thinking about it. My philosophy is, you stretch to whatever you want to do. I also have a very supportive wife and it would be impossible without that.”

After the Vipers went premier, Pete didn’t miss a beat and took on the Rampage and in two short years the girls have put together an 18-3-7 record with two league championships. And while he hopes to achieve more success with them, Pete also has his eyes on a bigger prize.

A sports complex.

It is currently in the planning stages, but Pete has hopes to erect a $4.5 million sports complex (designed by Claris Construction in Bridgeport) that would be run as a non-profit company (thus keeping fees very low). It would encompass four soccer fields (two outdoor, two full size indoor), an outdoor baseball diamond, basketball courts, batting cages and storage facilities. The original idea had been to somehow include the complex in the reshaping of the Fairfield Hills complex, but now … who can be sure?

“The project will happen,” said Pete. “When I put my mind to something, it will happen.”

And what – other than that kind of determination – could be better for the young athletes of Newtown?

A ‘Strikers’

Thank You

To Mr D’Amico and Mr Wolcott –


How do we begin to thank you

For what you’ve done for us

You’ve taken us from little boys

And helped us grow up


It all started back in ‘95

When we were boys U10

You promised us we could be good

If he worked hard and then …


You started us with running

And then moved us on to drills

And after lots of practice

We started learning skills


You taught us how to dribble

And how to trap the ball

We practiced at our juggling

Good defense … above all


We played in many tournaments

And lots of local games

We had our share of ‘indoor’

And traveling away


You took our team to Europe

And gave us all a chance

To meet kids from other countries

From Italy and from France


The languages were different

The food a little strange

But one thing we did learn

That soccer was played the same


We won a lot of trophies

And plaques along the way

We had a lot of victories

And some that slipped away


You showed us how to love the game

And how to play real tough

You taught us about teamwork

That winning’s not enough


Our parents and our managers

Have helped us out a bunch

Carpools and endless phone chains

And ‘fruit and cheese’ for lunch


But as we move on in our lives

Some things just have to change

We have to say goodbye to some

Who have helped along the way


We won’t forget our coaches

You’ve taught us all so much

About Sportsmanship

and Working Hard

We cannot say enough


In closing, let’s say Thank You

Or this will never end

You’re more than just a

coach, you know

No coach, you are a friend

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