The Switching Yard

By Curator, Richard Johnson

Imagining my mind as a train station with a switching yard that’s recently seen outgoing engines of memory carrying thoughts of old friends and acquaintances named Frank Deford, Bud Collins, Jack Grinold, and Tony DiCicco as well as idling turbines whose billowing exhaust symbolizes the final day (today, June 22nd) of the Boston’s Globe’s iconic Morrissey Blvd home and today’s celebratory luncheon on the retirement of Steve Nazro after 50 years of service to our beloved Garden.

It’s all a bit overwhelming and has me wandering, Ishmael-like, through a landscape of reflective contemplation.

The attached photo is of the memorable coach’s game that preceded the second Sports Museum Challenge Cup in 1992 that pitted the defending World Cup champion American women against their bitter rivals from Norway. Here the coaching staff of both teams as well as members of the event organizing committee have gathered on the beautifully manicured pitch at Brookline’s Park School to face off in a “friendly.”

Included among our gang was Connecticut native and Springfield College alum Tony DiCicco (third from left, back row) who, at the time, worked under Anson Dorrance as Team USA goalkeeping coach. Within seven years he’d been promoted to head coach and led his team to victory before record setting crowds including a Rose Bowl containing over 100,000 fans for the dramatic shirt waving penalty kick final versus China.

News of his death at age 68 hit hard yesterday. His graceful and focused manner characterized a coaching style that reminded me of fellow champions named John Wooden and KC Jones.

For he coached a team of characters and winners for which he was more than happy to lend the entire spotlight even though he had everything to do with the molding and melding of a squad that brought back Brandi Chastain, introduced former UMass keeper Brianna Scurry and saw human dynamo Michelle Akers transition from forward to back.

All of which worked like a charm.

Thanks Coach. Both you and your team will go down as one of the most memorable in any sport and, like the USA hockey gold medal winners of ’60 and ’80 (men) and ’98 (women) will always be the platinum standard by which any US team in any sport is measured.

“When you’ve seen beyond yourself then you may find Peace of mind is waiting there And the time will come when you see we’re all one And life flows on within you and without you”

About the Curator’s Corner

Richard Johnson’s “Curator’s Corner” is  where you will find videos featuring Richard and Sports Museum Executive Director, Rusty Sullivan, discussing Boston sports history, as well as blog posts written by Richard himself.

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