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Soccer festival to honor late coach Trish Meindl

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A soccer coach will be remembered in Rockville Centre this Saturday, when teams from across the South Shore gather at the RVC Sports Complex for the second annual Trish Meindl Memorial Soccer Festival. Meindl, a mother of three and longtime coach in the community, died of breast cancer in January 2018 at age 47. The festival began last year as a way to recognize her — through her love of soccer — while also raising money for scholarships.

“Trish loved soccer and coached RVC Soccer for a long time,” said her husband, Bob Meindl, who grew up in the village, played for the Rockville Centre Soccer Club and coached teams throughout the years. “We thought [organizing a festival] would be great to use the game to honor her, and also leverage money for scholarships.”

The festival, Meindl explained, was a collective idea of family members, friends and the local soccer community. Last year the event raised nearly $20,000 for the Trish Meindl Scholarship Fund. So far, two $1,500 scholarships have been awarded to graduating senior soccer players from South Side High School. Last year’s went to Jenna Lopez and this year’s winner was Kelsey Barrett.

Meindl said the proceeds would fund another scholarship at Marist College, where he met Trish, thanks to their mutual love of soccer. “I felt it was a great way to continue her memory,” Bob said, noting that the fund coordinators are in the process of defining the criteria for that scholarship. “She majored in political science, so we may broaden it to other students, not just soccer players.”

Trish fell in love with soccer as a child. She played in the Massapequa Soccer Club, and continued at Farmingdale High School. While raising her children — Bobby, who will start his sophomore year at Skidmore College; Andrew, who will enter 10th grade at South Side High School; and Erica, who will be starting eighth grade at South Side Middle School — she coached several teams in the Rockville Centre Soccer Club, and was the assistant coach of the Velocity, which Erica plays on, before she died. She was also active in the school community during the 20 years she lived in the village, serving as president of the Watson PTA.

“She was a great person who everyone loved,” said Aly Prezioso, coach of the Velocity, who worked with Trish as an assistant coach for three years.

Prezioso said there were eight teams involved in the festival last year, and this year there are 12 teams registered. They include squads from East Rockaway, Farmingdale, Hewlett, Lynbrook and New Hyde Park. Prezioso said that the players are mainly girls under age 14, and added that a player from each team will be honored during the awards ceremony that will be held Saturday afternoon.

The community is encouraged to come out and watch the games, which Bob said would be contested in a “fun atmosphere,” as opposed to the pressure of a tournament. The soccer festival will include activities for families and children, such as bouncy castles and slides, a DJ will play music, and there will be raffles, with prizes donated by local businesses.

The games start at 10 a.m. The rain date is Sunday. Go to www.rvcsoccer.net for more information.