By Jill Stern
Tom Giovatto is my sons soccer coach. His story is a local success story, one my son dreams to have happen to him. Giovatto is a great role model for the boys he coaches, as he has made a career out of soccer. Isnt that what most of these young kickers fantasize about? He is the personification of their dreams.
Like the boys he coaches, he started playing soccer in Manhattan when he was little. Like the boys he coaches, he dreamed of playing soccer when he grew up. Giovattos dreams did come true. Giovatto, 28, didnt stop playing soccer until a knee injury in 1999 ended his playing prematurely. He is still fully immersed in the soccer world, just on the other side now, the coaching side.
You would want your children to have Giovatto as a coach. Within him there is a great lesson to be taught and learned: stick with the sport if you love it and even if you get injured, you can still be involved with the sport.
Here is Giovattos bio to date: As a boy of 6, he started playing soccer with the Manhattan Kickers. When he was 13, his dad became his soccer coach. At that time, the league was having some trouble and was on the brink of dissolving. Giovattos dad (also named Tom) took over managing the league and also coached his other two sons, Nick, then 10, and Phil, then 8. All the while, Giovatto was not only playing, but learning about coaching from his dad.
In high school, Giovatto continued to succeed in sports, especially soccer. At Xavier High School on W. 16th St. he played forward for the team and was the leading goal scorer for three of his four years there. He still holds some records. His abilities got him a college scholarship to Iona College (thats a parents dream), where he again played four years of soccer. In his spare time, he had been assisting his dad coaching for the Kickers.
In 1997, when he finished at Iona, he was recruited by the Brooklyn Knights, a professional development team. He trained with them. In a pre-season game, he tore up his knee. He didnt go to the doctor, and continued to play. But by the second game of the season, he realized that the injury was bad. He had to have surgery and was in rehab for a year. Next he trained with the Metro Stars. He played well and almost made the team, but was one of the last players cut. He then went to train with the professional soccer team in Baltimore, where he again got injured in a pre-season game. This injury was career ending.
In 2000, Giovatto moved back to New York and started to coach soccer under Cesar Markovic (whom he had met while training for the Metro Stars) at St. Peters College in Jersey City. Markovic had signed on with Downtown United Soccer Club to coach youth soccer, so Giovatto left the Kickers and became a coach with a team from DUSC, the Kickers cross-town rival. Currently, Giovatto is still with both teams.
The 2003 season proved to be the best yet for both the St. Peters team and the DUSC Under-8 team that Giovatto coaches. St. Peters College made it to the N.C.A.A. tournament, where they beat Brown University, only to fall to University of Michigan in the next round; and Giovattos DUSC U-8 boys ended their season in second place in the C.J.S.L. (Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League) U-8 division. For Giovatto, what started as a soccer-playing dream has shifted into a soccer coaching career.
Giovattos goal in the near future is to see St. Peters win the national championship. Long-term goals? He shrugged when asked. But its a safe bet that there is much more to come for Giovatto in the world of soccer.