It’s Izzy’s personality that catches you first. Many adjectives fit him … funny … bright … cheerful … intense … enduring … determined … caring … modest. Coach of both the girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer teams at Raleigh’s Broughton High School since 1989, Izzy has built one of the finest coaching resumes in North Carolina history.
His success as a coach is recognized nationally. A fall 2007 article in the Sports Illustrated online publication, SI.com, told of his combined record at the time of 669 wins, 159 losses and 50 ties and of his 11 state titles. The author wrote that “for many opponents, the goal of ‘winning it all’ means beating Broughton en route to the title.” With the highest winning percentage among active girls’ coaches in North Carolina, Izzy is described as a dominant coach that molds soccer talents, recognizes that each year brings a new challenge and works hard to match what he asks of his players.
When asked about his success as a coach, Izzy gives the credit to his players and to his assistant coaches. He stresses that “the kids are the key.” Helping them to develop strong values as individuals and to understand the importance of working as a group has always been important to him. While he has sought to develop in them an appreciation of the beauty of soccer, he also has pushed them to play hard.
Born in Cuba in 1962, Izzy and his family immigrated to the United States in 1964, first to the New York City area and ultimately to Orlando, where he developed a love for the game of soccer. One of his former Broughton students passed on two stories about Izzy, however, that underscore Izzy’s fun-loving and competitive nature. Apparently Izzy, fancying himself as a “world-class” athlete, would often tell his classes that he would have been first alternate on the national dodgeball team, which would have qualified him for the Olympics … if dodgeball were an Olympics sport. The second story, ostensibly still “famous” at Elon College (now Elon University) relates a time when Izzy was told by his coach that he had an overdue library book, to which Izzy allegedly responded, “Coach, that can’t be true. I’ve never been to the library.”
Izzy spent his first two college years (1980-82) at Brevard College, in Brevard, NC. Don Scarborough, soccer coach at Brevard at the time, had watched Izzy playing as a star on the Florida state champion Bishop Moore High School team and liked what he saw. “It was Izzy and his teammates that lifted the Brevard soccer program to national prominence. It took less than one practice session for him to learn that Izzy would be the glue to hold the team together, constantly challenging, supporting, and engaging his teammates in the team’s practice sessions.” After finishing at Brevard, which is a two-year school, Izzy moved to Elon College, where he captained the team as a senior and earned All-District honors and was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player.
Izzy’s record of achievement is long … 9 women’s high school state titles … 2 men’s state titles … final NSCAA national # 1 ranking of high school teams twice, in 2006 with the girls and in 2007 with the boys … Broughton girls nationally ranked 15 consecutive years … 3 girls’ youth state championships (twice with the 77 CASL Spartans in U16 and U18 and once with the U18 Durham/Chapel Hill Triangle Strikers) … 2 boys’ youth state championships (76 Raleigh Rowdies in U13 and 74 Raleigh Express in U15) … US Youth Soccer Southern Regional champion and National Champion in 1995 with the 77 CASL Spartans, North Carolina’s first youth national championship in soccer … NC Soccer Coaches Association regional coach of the year … Broughton Sports Hall of Fame … News and Observer Tar Heel of the Week.
Izzy has two sons, Alexis, 25, and Anthony, 22.