When expansion soccer team Stockade FC was founded late last year, its ownership group talked about imbuing it with a local flair. The team made good on that promise this week when it announced the hiring of local legend George Vizvary as the club’s first head coach.
Vizvary was the head coach at SUNY Ulster from 1968-2010, winning a pair of National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NJCAA) titles, and steering the Senators to 17 national tournament appearances. The team won 24 Mid-Hudson Conference titles and 17 Region XV championships under his direction. Vizvary’s record of 534-159-28 in Stone Ridge represents the most wins in the history of community college soccer. Vizvary was also the head coach of the University at Albany’s women’s soccer program from 1996-99, and is a 2007 inductee into the NJCAA Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame.
Stockade FC, with its name and logo referencing the historic wooden stockade fence protecting the mid-17th century Dutch settlement known as Wiltwyck, will play its home games at Dietz Stadium. Though they’re the only semi-professional soccer team in the area, they’re not the first. Stockade FC used social media this week to link to the past: The Kingston Sport Club was a semi-pro team in the ‘50s and ‘60s which played its home games against teams like the New York Hungarians, the New York Ukrainians, and the Albany Sons of Italy at Oehler’s Mountain Lodge — now the New York Conservatory for the Arts — in Hurley. Kingston Sport Club reportedly went undefeated in 51 straight games, and were league champions from 1961-64, a stretch during which their captain was George Vizvary.
“From what I understand they had a really amazing team using players from the area,” said Stockade FC Chairman Dennis Crowley, CEO and co-founder of Foursquare. “When people talk about, ‘Hey, can a club work here with the quality here?’ there’s a legacy of that. It’s something we didn’t know going into it, but I’d love to build off of it. I’d love to track down some of the former players and have them come out to a couple of the early games. I think it would be a lot of fun to honor them on the field.”
Crowley said Vizvary has been interested in being involved with Stockade FC since the very beginning, and given the coach’s deep connection to soccer in the Hudson Valley, it felt like a natural move to get him on board as the club’s coach.
“It’s been a lot of fun and super informative getting to spend a lot of time with him and hearing his philosophies in putting a team together from the talent in the region,” said Crowley. “We don’t have a full year for scouting players, we really only have a couple of months.”
Joining Vizvary on the Stockade bench are Assistant Coach Rory Becker and Goalkeeper Coach Chuck Wilder.
Becker, who played soccer at Ithaca College and with the German Hungarian Metros in Queens, was a local star at Highland High School, winning the state title twice. Becker was an assistant coach with SUNY New Paltz, an Olympic Development Program coach, and is currently the assistant state boys’ soccer coordinator and Section IX boys’ soccer coordinator.
Wilder’s pro career saw him play for the Tuscon Amigos, Albany Alleycats and New York Fever, where he also coached at the A-League level. Wilder also coached the Rockland Glaciers of the PDL and has been goalkeeper coach at Vassar College since 2008.
The club will hold a handful of tryouts, including an open tryout at Dietz Stadium on Saturday, March 19. Their first invite-only tryout will take place at a secret location on Saturday, Feb. 27. Crowley said there would be one more tryout after the open session to bring everyone together to see how they perform as a team.
“We want to see everyone on the field before we make any decisions,” Crowley said. “We want to see how people communicate and play with the other players on the field. I know that’s important to George, getting everyone on the field and giving them an opportunity to perform.”
Stockade FC will begin its inaugural season in the Northeast Region of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in late spring.