St. Joseph Academy graduate Olivia Printy, right, was a frequent attendee of Tony DiCicco's soccer camps. DiCicco, the former coach of the U.S. women's soccer team, died late Monday he was 68. Pictured on the left was Claire Lepper.
Tony DiCicco, coach of the legendary 1999 U.S. women’s soccer team, died late Monday night. He was 68.
The news came in a tweet from his son Anthony.
Within minutes the soccer community reflected on the impact the coach, broadcaster and devoted soccer enthusiast left in his career. It’s a legacy that literally spanned the globe and into St. Johns County.
Olivia Printy can attest to that.
The St. Joseph Academy graduate, and current Manhattan College goalkeeper, met DiCicco on multiple occasions and was a frequent attendee of his camps. Tuesday, while driving on a road trip with her mother, she took time to remember the coach.
“He didn’t make it out to be like he was a crazy soccer legend,” Printy said. “He was a coach trying to make his players better.”
Printy attended nearly half a dozen of DiCicco’s camps over the years. One of her final visits was in 2015 weeks before DiCicco served as a broadcaster for the Women’s World Cup for Fox Sports.
“You’ve heard all these great things about this guy and what a great coach he was. When I was that young, I was really intimidated,” Printy said. “I was nervous when he first showed up. …He got there and he is such a warm person. He said ‘If you make a mistake, it’s fine.’ He really is so friendly. And he made all his camps a warm environment. You knew you were at home. ….You knew he wanted you to get better.”
One of those lessons was about communication. Printy started 14 matches during her freshman season and said the way to communicate with the defenders playing in front of her was something she picked up from DiCicco’s camps.
She finished with at 5-9-1 record, two shutouts, was second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a .804 save percentage. She was named the MAAC’s Defensive Player of the Week as well as the Rookie of the Week during the 2016 season.
“He knew all the names of all the campers,” Printy said. “At every camp there were at least 40 kids. He made everything really personal. He really believed in you. I honestly don’t think I would be playing in college if I hadn’t met Tony. He reached out to a bunch of schools for me. It was at one of his camps that I met (Manhattan head coach) Brendan (Lawler). He was incredible at making you feel you had talent and you were going to be something someday. That drove everyone to want to be their best and get better.”
The 5-foot-10-inch Printy certainly has talent. In her senior season at St. Joseph she posted 11 shutouts and allowed 21 goals in 19 matches. At the collegiate level, her 1.24 goals against average was fourth in the MAAC.
“I had a really solid back line (and) that helped a lot,” Printy said of her freshman campaign. “It was an interesting season. Adjusting to the speed of play and the different styles took some time. We had a really good spring season and hopefully, that continues in the fall.”
Printy, like DiCicco, is a collegiate goalkeeper. She said the impact of the 1999 World Cup-winning team was the belief it gave girls that they too could play sports at a high level.
Winning the World Cup is what made DiCicco a household name, but he was extraordinarily accomplished before and after the tournament. He led the U.S. women’s soccer team to a 108-8-8 record as well as an Olympic gold medal during his tenure from 1994-1999.
All three of the Women’s World Cups that the United States has won have been impacted by DiCicco. The former goalkeeper at Springfield College was also the goalkeeper coach for the 1991 U.S. women’s soccer team that won the FIFA World Cup. He also led the U.S. Under-20 women’s national team to a world title in 2008. Four members of that squad — Meghan Klingenberg, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher were on the 2015 team that annihilated Japan to win the World Cup.
“He is going to be missed incredibly,” Printy said. “He is so well-known and he has done so much for the game. It’s impossible to state what he’s done for soccer. …It’s going to be hard to find someone who loved the game as much as he did.”