By: John Van de Vaarst – National Clinician
Each year NISOA has approximately 400-500 individuals for new membership. These individuals never had the opportunity to met, or get to know, the individuals who worked tirelessly to make NISOA what it is today. This article will provide an overview of several of these individuals and a short synopsis of some of their many accomplishments.
NISOA would not be in existence today if it was not for the efforts of Dr. Raymond Bernabei, former executive director for approximately 33 years. Ray and his wife Rose spent every day in the “NISOA office”, a spare bedroom in their home working hour after hour dealing with every issue and situation that came before them. They travelled to clinics to promote NISOA and Ray would meet individually with members at the clinics to seek out new talent and convince the individual to volunteer to work in some area of NISOA. Ray was a firm believer in long-range planning and ensured that NISOA always had a five year plan. Ray recognized the importance of training and improving intercollegiate soccer officiating. To that end, he worked with Robert Sumpter and established a pool of National Clinicians who were specifically trained in adult education concepts. These volunteers were required to publish articles and prepare lesson plans in the NISOA format on an annual basis.
Ray worked diligently to establish the NISOA Foundation Fund. He was successful in obtaining 501(c)3 status from the IRS and established the not-for-profit fund to obtain donations that would be used for training purposes. Through his individual efforts the fund grew quickly and is now a foundation that can be maintained and used to support training functions.
Coming from a background in education, Ray developed a policy manual for NISOA and coordinated the establishment of several guides and manuals for the membership. He assigned individuals to draft these documents with very specific time frames and due dates. This ensured the items were completed in a timely manner.
Ray was successful from taking an organization that was mostly located in the Northeast portion of the country to a National organization with chapters in every state. Ray believed in strong hands on leadership and when someone volunteered to complete a project, he would assign a due date and follow up on a periodic basis to monitor the status and ensure the project was completed on time. While Ray worked tirelessly to move NISOA forward, he also firmly believed in his philosophy of family first. When he would call an officer, program director or another member he knew, he always took time to talk about the individual’s family. On a regular basis he reminded every member to put family first, career second, and NISOA third. This was his legacy.
Mario Donnangelo worked tirelessly as the Associate Executive Director for many years. He took care of the membership records, processed new members and coordinated all membership issues with the chapter contacts. He also published the newsletter, coordinated all printing and publications, and the interscholastic program. When Dr. Bernabei
recognized the need for a National Training Academy, he assigned Mario the task to locate a site and develop the initial program. He quickly went to work and established the relationship with Elizabethtown College that still exists today. Each year Mario attended the camp and worked with the participants both in the classroom and on the field. He enjoyed being with NISOA members and mentoring the newer members. Mario also maintained the new membership packets. He would prepare the packets and ensure they were mailed out as quickly as possible. He also maintained the sales material and responded to requests for items within a day of receipt. When Dr. Bernabei passed away, Mario willingly accepted additional responsibilities and assisted with the transition of records, files, and ways of doing business. He was truly dedicated to the values of NISOA.
Another tireless worker for NISOA was C. Frank Jewell. Frank lived approximately one hour from Dr. Bernabei and would make the drive there whenever necessary. He would work on various projects with Dr. Bernabei especially in the area of planning. In many cases, Frank served as one of Dr. Bernabei’s “sounding boards” on new ideas. Frank served as Curriculum Coordinator for the NISOA camp for many years. He enjoyed being in the classroom and providing information to the participants and sharing experiences. He would hold “cracker barrel” sessions with groups of participants and spend hours answering the students’ questions about game situations and rules. Frank also served as the Director of Assessment for a period of time and developed training materials for training local assessors. Frank always ended his email messages with “he ain’t heavy, he is my brother.” Frank lived by that motto and devoted numerous hours to NISOA in any capacity. One of his favorite assignments was to serve as the coordinator of officials at the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament. He would attend the games, make the assignments of all officials, and provide feedback on performance. Frank also served as an assignor for several conferences including the Big-12, Sun Belt and more.
Part 2 of this article will be published next month and focus on several other individuals who devoted numerous hours to make sure NISOA grew and remains the organization of choice for intercollegiate soccer officiating.