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(E) Nick Kvasic - Man of many talents
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/23/2004 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Nick Kvasic - Man of many talents

 

Nick Kvasic Man of many talents

quality that translates into any language.

New Dorp girls' soccer coach Nick Kvasic doesn't do a little of everything ... he does a lot
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
By STEPHEN HART
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE

Entering his 23rd season as the only coach New Dorp girls' soccer has ever known, Nick Kvasic certainly has a catalogue of memories.

"But it's funny what things stick with you," he said before practice yesterday, the eve of the Central Cougars' season opener with Petrides. "I remember that first season, setting up the portable goal posts at the old New Dorp (now Staten Island Tech). All the girls would come out and assemble them, then take them down afterward.

"I don't want to go back to those days," he laughed, "but the best thing about it was that it brought about this camaraderie with the kids. The girls were just so excited to be part of a team."

The year was 1982, when the window of opportunity for female athletes was just opening up. A lot has changed since that first season of PSAL girls' soccer ... except, of course, for the person rolling out the balls at New Dorp.

"Will (Stasiuk, PSAL girls' soccer commissioner) said that myself and the coach at Midwood, Cary Dotz, are the only ones left from that first year," Kvasic noted. "He called me one of the originals."

That term is a perfect fit for someone who's had the kind of life that makes Forrest Gump's seem boring. RENAISSANCE MAN

Kvasic arrived here in 1970, a 16-year-old from Krk,Croatia, eager to give his new country a test drive.

He put himself through Port Richmond HS and Wagner College as a cook at the Staaten for seven years, but it was another gig during his college days -- as a monitor for the Federal Communications Commission, keeping tabs on a couple of local radio stations that broadcast foreign-language programs -- that first took advantage of Kvasic's knowledge of European languages.

"I was at WPOW, a small radio station that's long gone, located at Woodrow Road and Huguenot Avenue," recalled Kvasic. "I was paid by the hour, and it paid well. But I wasn't the type to sit in an office."

He didn't do much resting during the 1980s, with a series of jobs as a translator -- the first of which was for Sports for Understanding, an international sports exchange program hatched during the Reagan-Gorbachev thawing of "Cold War" policies.

"I had a lot of fun with that. I thought it was a great idea," said Kvasic of the program that lasted from 1984-86 and took him to Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

In 1984, Kvasic accompanied the U.S. Olympic team to the Winter Games in Sarajevo, where he acted as translator for the American hockey and figure skating teams -- "I helped (future New York Islander and Ranger and hockey Hall of Famer) Pat LaFontaine shop for skis," he smiled -- and he served as a tour guide for U.S. Olympic sponsors on an excursion to Italy, France and Switzerland a year later.

A trip to Zagreb, Croatia, for the World University Games in 1987 provided more memorable moments as translator for the American basketball team coached by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and featuring then-collegians Mitch Richmond, Sean Elliot and B.J. Armstrong.

"Mike was a very good motivator and an overall great person to be around. He was a very gentle man ... but when he said something, people listened," said Kvasic, who also served as interpreter for Yugoslavian athletes at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. "During one of the games, (Krzyzewski) got upset with a referee's call. So he turned around and asked me, 'Hey, Nick, how do you say 'dummy' in Croatian?'"

And in the midst of all of this was a burgeoning career as a songwriter and record producer, including a 1980 album called "Sharing With You" featuring all Staten Island artists performing works composed by Kvasic, who majored in music at Wagner.

It was while producing a concert in his native Krk in 1988 that he met his wife, Amica, a chef at a local resort who was contracted to cater the event.

"That's my biggest accomplishment," said Kvasic, who married Amica a year later and together have two children, 14-year-old Jessica and 10-year-old Michael. ON THE GROUND FLOOR

"Music is something I enjoy. And it's a great combination with sports," said Kvasic, who has also been running clinics through the Big Apple Games for the past 15 summers. "They're different, yet you need to be very disciplined with both."

Very disciplined and very organized, as a visit to the soccer office at New Dorp will attest. The walls are decorated with old rosters, plaques, certificates, photos and uniforms ... not to mention a bulletin board teeming with newspaper clippings of the wedding announcements of his former players.

"This is where my heart is," said Kvasic. "I've coached boys at Silver Lake and in high school at Port Richmond and now at Petrides. But this is special ... we built this here at New Dorp, our way."

Kvasic actually was on the ground floor of another program as a member of the first PR boys' soccer team in 1972.

"We were just a bunch of foreign kids from different parts of the world," recalled Kvasic, who also played soccer at Wagner College. "I definitely took from that experience. That first season was us, Port Richmond and Susan Wagner in the same division along with three Brooklyn schools (Fort Hamilton, Lafayette and Sheepshead Bay)."

Richmond Hill won the PSAL girls' city crown the first three years, followed by JFK in 1985. The following year, New Dorp was ready.

"That 1986 team was my favorite ... they had that attitude and commitment," said Kvasic of the squad led by sisters Danielle and Denise Oakley, both Advance All Stars. "They were all pleasant kids, very coachable."

It was the first of six PSAL city titles for New Dorp, the most recent coming in 1996. There have been some lean seasons since, but Kvasic is more upset with matters not related to the won-loss columns.

"It's gotten to the point where it's very competitive, almost cutthroat. When we first started, it was more fun," admitted Kvasic. "Sometimes, the parents get too involved, where all they see is the chance for scholarships.

"But we all should remember -- coaches, players and parents -- that this is a sport. It's supposed to be about sportsmanship and character."

And those words would also be perfect to describe Kvasic, a class act no matter what the record is. And that's a quality that translates into any language.

http://www.silive.com/sports/advance/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1080137701243570.xml

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