Thoughts on the Passing of a Pittsburgh Soccer Icon

imageIf you had played or coached soccer in the Pittsburgh area in the past three or four decades, chances are you came across Larry Solomon at some point.

“He was instrumental part of Pittsburgh soccer for many years. He helped bring soccer to kids like me who were living in the City. I remember him mostly as a referee, but he did so much more than that for soccer,” said Rafal Kolankowski, former Alderdice and Point Park player.

“He will be missed,” added Kolankowski.

Solomon, who passed away in his Squirrel Hill home on April 21, was 79.

Solomon was very involved with the development of the Pittsburgh Dynamo, the first soccer club in the City of Pittsburgh.

He held many roles in the sport, including six years as the Dynamo’s President, over 25 years as a United States Soccer Federation official, over 22 years as a PIAA official and also coached at various levels. Solomon also served as the President of PA West Soccer Association from 1999-2007.

I had come across Solomon many times over the years — both when I was Point Park men’s soccer coach, but also in my years coordinating Special Olympics Pennsylvania soccer competitions.   And who was always the first referee to sign up to officiate the Special Olympics competitions at Hampton and Slippery Rock every year — Larry Solomon.

One of my last encounters with Solomon was at a Point Park soccer game at South Stadium in 2012, and it was a pleasant surprise to see him.  See, upon my return to watch my alma mater where I played and coached, it seemed like all the faces and people had changed.  Then I walked toward the press box — and saw one familiar face — Larry — as he working as a referee assessor.

We joked about the last time we were both at South Stadium, for memorable Point Park games played at that site (both heart-breaking losses by the way).   It was great to see him and reminisce about the early years of the Point Park program and how much soccer has grown in our community.   He was a kind man — who always asked me how I was doing.

And there was no doubt in my mind as I left that day of seeing an old friend and colleague, that he was a special man, and will always will have place in Pittsburgh soccer lore for having been someone who was an integral part of the sport in our region.

You can find Larry’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary here along with his formal obituary. . .

http://www.pressreader.com/usa/pittsburgh-post-gazette/20150425/281822872344257/TextView

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postgazette/obituary.aspx?n=larry-solomon&pid=174691304

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