On Friday night, the Boston Breakers and the family of U.S. women’s national team and Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco will honor his legacy before the match against the Chicago Red Stars.
Tickets for the game are still available and can be purchased by visiting breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.
Family, former teammates and players from the 1999 Women’s World Cup team will attend the match on Friday evening. The DiCicco family will also host a tailgate before the match, and fans and supporters are invited to share their memories of DiCicco. His former teammates will serve as honorary captains for the game, and the DiCicco family will also lead the Breakers and Red Stars out on Jordan Field at Harvard University.
While it’s one night in memory of one of the biggest influences on the women’s game, Friday night is yet another piece in documenting DiCicco’s last legacy in women’s professional soccer.
Amanda Duffy, NWSL Managing Director of Operations , arrived in Boston on Friday morning to attend the match. Being there in person was important for her. As she said, she traveled to New England to “be a part of that celebration of what Tony’s done for the game and for the league. It was just important to be here and share that time. I’m sure there will be plenty of stories told over the next 72 hours.”
Before Friday night’s events and game kick off, she spoke to NWSL Media about how DiCicco’s name will still be a crucial part of the women’s game in America. “Tony’s involvement with the game at all levels, and all sides of it, it’s all encompassing,” Duffy said. “The positive impact in all aspects is recognized by everyone. With the amount of time and effort, his motivation and passion drove the execution and implementation of the first women’s professional league, the WUSA. He didn’t just set a standard, but created the excitement and sense of pride behind everything that was happening in the women’s game following the ’99 Women’s World Cup. “
While DiCicco’s role in every league was different: from driving force in WUSA, to head coach in WPS, to honorary godfather and color commentator in the National Women’s Soccer League, ultimately his spirit has defined and shaped every version of the women’s game in the U.S. Duffy points to DiCicco for his integral role. “You talk about the work that was done behind the scenes and in front of cameras, in front of players, with U.S. Soccer, with every party that’s a part of the game, Tony was always there to talk about the game, talk about the women’s game, find ways to move the game forward.”
On June 21, former Boston Breakers defender Cat Whitehill told NWSL Media, “I don’t think it can be stated enough how important [Tony DiCicco] was to women’s soccer. I think when you go back, and you look at the history books, Tony’s fingerprints are all over it. That’s his legacy as a soccer coach.”
Duffy couldn’t have agreed more with that sentiment. “His fingerprints were all over the game because Tony was never above any of it,” she said.
“Tony wanted to be a part of all of it. That’s how your fingerprints get all over it. I think it’s one hundred percent accurate, and I think it speaks to his personality and character that there was nothing he was above or had moved past. It was always about the growth. He understood that meant rolling your sleeves up and having to do work that some people wouldn’t care to do at certain points in their career. “
As a more permanent testimony to the years of work and his lasting legacy, the Boston Breakers will also unveil a banner in DiCicco’s honor. The Breakers had already planned to induct him into their Pillars of Excellence, the team’s version of a hall of fame spanning the club’s history through its WUSA and WPS editions as well. The club has only named four players as Pillars so far, thanks to their respective “outstanding contribution not only to the Boston Breakers organization but also to the sport of women’s soccer.”
Tony DiCicco will rightfully join the ranks of the best of Breakers history: Maren Meinert, Angela Hucles, Kristine Lilly and Leslie Osborne. Mark Thomas, President of Business Operations for the Breakers, said that a ceremony is planned for next year for the actual honor. With the banner already ready, it made sense to present it with DiCicco’s family present on Friday night.
“A lot of people have the feeling that if it wasn’t for Tony, there may not be an NWSL in some respect,” Thomas said. “Obviously there’s not a direct link, but he’s always supported the team. He’s always supported the coaching staff and the ownership team here. It’s a very, very small offering that we’re doing on Friday. We wish it could be more, but every little bit counts, I suppose.”
Fans who aren’t located in Boston have also found a way to show their support for Friday night’s honors. NWSL and USWNT supporter Beverly Baird suggested that out-of-market fans buy tickets and donate them to the Boston Breakers non-profit, the Sports, Fitness and Leadership Foundation.
Last month, the league honored DiCicco with a moment of silence before every match during the weekend of June 24-25, as well as players and coaches wearing armbands with his initials during games.
In addition to DiCicco’s successful coaching record with the national team — a 105-8-8 overall record, winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup and a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics — he played a large role in professional soccer in Boston.
DiCicco coached the Breakers from 2009 to 2011, when the team was part of the Women’s Professional Soccer league. He’s also the only coach in Breakers history to lead the team to two playoff appearances during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
DiCicco also served as a color commentator on several NWSL broadcasts – including during the 2013 NWSL Playoffs.
The DiCicco family has additional memorial events planned for the weekend of July 7-9, with more information available via tonydicicco.com.