A Note From Jim DiNobile "I have had the privilege and blessings to be part of the Tampa Bay soccer community for nearly 50 years, when I arrived as a 17-year-old freshman at Eckerd College in St. Pete, FL. from Smithfield, R.I. in 1972.
My wife Julie, daughter Shanna, son Justin and I are eternally grateful for the opportunity to play, coach, and be part of the best soccer landscape in the country!
The last ten years as the Director of Soccer Operations for the Chargers Soccer Club, one of the truly outstanding youth soccer clubs in the U.S. along with the greatest people and part of the Chargers family, has been a fantastic and rewarding experience as I step aside into retirement! GO CHARGERS!"
After 50 years of dedicated service to the game of soccer as a player, coach, manager, mentor & friend to so many, Jim DiNobile, Chargers SC Director of Soccer Operations, is setting his sights on a well-deserved retirement and spending more time with his wife, Julie, and their family.
It's widely known that Jim DiNobile is one of the most cherished and respected figures in soccer. He has touched hundreds of thousands of lives sharing his expertise and special talents. This article briefly touches on just some of the many avenues he has done that in the Tampa Bay Area.
Although Jim played basketball, baseball & soccer during his youth school years growing up in Rhode Island, his impact in the Tampa Bay Area began when he accepted a roster spot on the Eckerd College Men's Soccer Team AND the Men's Baseball team and was a student-athlete from 1972 – 1976. Yes, the men's soccer team he would later serve as Head Coach.
"Words cannot describe the impact that Jim has had on soccer in the Tampa Bay area," Perry Van Der Beck (former - U.S. National Team Player, Rowdies Player, & Rowdies General Manager), relayed, "including the youth, high school, college, and professional leagues. I remember meeting Jim when I first came to Tampa in 1978. As a player, coach, mentor, director, and visionary, hIs passion, commitment and dedication to the game of soccer will forever be remembered and profoundly appreciated by the Tampa Bay soccer community."
After college, Jim continued to play soccer on various adult teams. His most notable experience was as a player/coach with the St. Petersburg Kickers from 1981-1995. During that time, the Kickers won the U.S. Open Cup Championship in 1989 and the U.S. National Amateur Cup Championship in 1990. Those were momentous times for the Kickers as well as the Tampa Bay community as a whole!!
Then from 1983–2002, Jim impacted so many more lives as the Head Coach of the Eckerd College Men's Soccer team as well as the Women's Softball Coach (1983-1991). During that time, because of his successes, he was named Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year in 1984, 1987, 1993, and 1996.
In this Eckerd coach role, recruiting youth players and developing them during their collegiate career, and developing coaches were some of the many ways he impacted the Tampa Bay Area soccer community. So many over the years also got to know Jim at his annual youth soccer camps & small-sided tournaments.
Shared by Mauricio Pesaresi, Chargers Tampa Technical Director. "Many, many years ago, I was living in South Florida and was finishing my playing career. Fresh out of my USSF coaching school, I was ready to conquer the world. At the same time, I was raising a family of 6 with very limited financial means, so any "gig" that I could get helped.
A common friend recommended me to be part of Jim's Eckerd College Summer camps. I had never worked or interacted with Jim to that point, but being that special person, he welcomed me as if I was a lifetime friend.
At the end of the camp, he handed me an envelope with my stipend and a thank you card. Out of respect (perhaps a cultural trait), I took the envelope but did not open it in his presence. Long story short, on my way back to south Florida a few miles down I-275, I opened the envelope. There was my stipend check, the card, and to my complete surprise, an additional amount of money tucked inside the card. A gift from this incredibly generous man to a young fellow he barely knew and could use all the help he could get. This is the first time I share this with anyone other than my family as a tribute to this great friend. That's Jim for everything."
At the same time, during Jim's Eckerd College tenure, he also served as the NCAA Division II Championship National Chairman (1994-1998) and the NCAA Division II National Ranking Chairman (1991-1994).
In 2002, we all were lucky when Jim transitioned to more of a youth soccer focus when he accepted the role of Director of Coaching (2002-2009) with Black Watch Soccer Club (a renowned Florida powerhouse youth soccer club since the mid-'70s in Tampa). With his management expertise, Jim worked to carry on the previous successes of the club. He was later an integral part of the merger of 2 Tampa clubs blending the best of both (Black Watch Soccer Club & New Tampa Soccer Association) to form the Fusion Futbol Club of Tampa Bay. He continued as Director of Soccer Operations (2009-2012).
"In the winter of 2003," relayed Richard Chisolm, Head Coach at Chargers Tampa campus, "my mentor (and boss) at New Tampa Comets was hired away to work for U.S. Soccer. As he was preparing to leave, I asked him, "Who can I trust to help guide me?". Without any hesitation, he said, "Jim DiNobile." I knew who he was but had never met him. At the time, Jim was just coming to the youth game as the DOC of Black Watch-and it is fair to say, there was much rancor between our organizations-so it seemed a bit unlikely to pursue a relationship, but I did, anyway. It changed my life.
Right away, I came to understand that Jim approached soccer, and coaching, with four fundamental values-honesty, humility, integrity, and always "what's good for the game". Along the way, he has, at turns, guided me, shared with me, inspired me, and always respected me. He has always sought to see what is good in people and to try to bring that out in them. Over the years, we evolved a weekly post-training ritual to talk about "everything soccer," including the prosaic details of daily operations. He would always hold his hand up at some point as we would be re-hashing all the problems, and say, "Hey, let's make sure we haven't forgotten the other 90 percent"-referring to all of the things that were going right!
I've worked for/with Jim three different times over the course of our relationship. I've never needed, or sought, a contract. He has been the first person I've talked to about anything to do with my career.....and, eventually, a lot of other areas of my life. Where I come from, friends are the people who will tell you the truth, even if it is uncomfortable ... and you're glad to have it because you know that they are not judging you. That is the kind of friend Jim has been to me."
Once again, Jim was part of the management team that recognized that bringing together the Tampa club with a Clearwater club (Clearwater Chargers – another nationally known Florida club since the '70s) was a meaningful way to continue to provide player development opportunities to many. The clubs merged in 2012 and have since been known as the Chargers Soccer Club.
For the past nine years, Coach DiNobile has served as the Chargers SC Co-Director of Coaching (with Peter Mannino) and the Director of Soccer Operations since the merger in 2012 until his recent retirement announcement.
A thank you from Peter Mannino, Chargers DOC: "'Jimmy D', it has been a pleasure having known you for the last 30 plus years and especially the last 10 years working together as Co-Directors under the Chargers SC. You're a man of integrity, principles, and a true professional across the board. The soccer community will miss you, but your contribution is here to stay.
The Chargers SC coaches, players, and parents were fortunate to have such a Soccer Icon so close to home. It came so easy to work together because we had the same common goal…..attend to the needs of each player.
On behalf of the entire Chargers SC family, we want to wish you the best in your future endeavors, and God bless you and your family. Enjoy life!"
And long before Jim's retirement years, he'd already been named to two Hall of Fames: in 2001 to Eckerd College Hall of Fame and 2016 to Smithfield High School (R.I.) Hall of Fame.
During Jim's career, he also found many other ways to share his expertise & benevolence with roles such as the following, to name a few:
And if all this wasn't enough, we can't go without saying that among Jim's many talents, doing for and about others is part of the core of who he has always been. There are countless stories from players, parents, coaches, friends, co-workers, area organizations & businesses where Jim found ways to interact with and support and then take the time to shine a spotlight of recognition, making them feel special. Those who have experienced that special feeling from Coach DiNobile, recount how that made us want to work harder just to live up the level that Jim saw in us. We can't thank him enough!!
Jim, we hope that your retired life is the best part of your life and that it brings you the opportunity to fill your time with everything you enjoy for many years! Cheers to a happy and healthy retirement!
We hope you can join us with the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, 11/6/21, for their first USL Championship playoff game, where they recognized Jim DiNobile at a half-time presentation. GO ROWDIES!!
Video - On-FIeld Rowdies Presentation to Jim DiNobile:
Video - Montage of Thank You Videos for Jim:
Video - Charger Photos Montage From That Rowdies Game Night: