Coach Michael Berticelli was born
in Lewiston, Maine, and attended the University of Maine
in Farmington, earning a BA in English in 1973 and a Master’s
degree in 1976. While attending UMF, he played basketball
and soccer, captaining the latter in his senior year. For
his efforts there, along with his distinguished twenty seasons
coaching collegiate soccer, Michael was inducted into the
UMF Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. UMF’s citation makes
reference to his “exceptionally generous contribution”
to the game of soccer, a phrase that seems to have followed
him wherever he coached. It certainly is a cornerstone in
our recognition of his enshrinement into the North Carolina
Soccer Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.
There would be a six-year stint
for Berticelli at Old Dominion (1984-1989), where he posted
a 76-27-6 record. He led the Monarchs to two Sun Belt conference
titles and to their first-ever NCAA tourney appearance.
They were also ranked in the top 20 nationally his last
five years. He would also coach at Notre Dame, where he
would compile a 104-80-19 mark over a decade (1990-1999)
and would have the Irish in the postseason three times (1993,
1994, 1996) while competing in the Midwest Collegiate and
Big East conferences.
But it is at the University of North
Carolina at Greensboro, a program also being inducted into
the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame this year into its
National Champions Hall of Honor, where soccer people remember
Michael Berticelli best. He was only at UNC Greensboro for
four seasons - but what a time it was.
UNC Greensboro was a fledgling Division
III program that Berticelli took over in 1980, one where
chairs and benches served as so-called stadium surroundings.
Indeed, North Carolina was just beginning to get familiar
with a sport in which national excellence would soon be
the norm. So it can be said that what was accomplished was
a benchmark. The Spartans would win two NCAA Division III
titles when they defeated Bethany (WV) 2-1 in 1982 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
(CA) 3-2 in 1983, with both games being played in Greensboro.
Between the suddenly heightened interest and the novelty
of the setting, it struck a chord. Soccer was here to stay
and Coach Michael Berticelli was, even if he didn’t
realize it at the time, the chief trailblazer.
Sadly, Berticelli would pass away in 2000 at the young age
of 48. It is instructive that soon after his passing several
groups chose ways to remember him, a testament to his impact.
At Notre Dame, the Mike Berticelli
Memorial Tournament was set up shortly after his death.
It invites four highly-rated teams for a weekend of competition
in early September and is recognized nationally for its
Also, the National Soccer Coaches
Association of America established the Mike Berticelli Excellence
in Coaching Award, presented annually to a member of the
NSCAA Academy in recognition of excellence in coaching education.
Berticelli was extremely involved with this organization
and by 2000 was serving as its Vice President of Education.
Finally, it should be noted that
Michael was inducted into the UNC Greensboro Athletics Hall
of Fame as a member of its Charter Class on September 29,
2000. He had laid the foundation for sustaining a great
program. It would win more Division III titles and then
move on to compete well in Division I.
A great coach is said to be a great
teacher. Michael Berticelli left us with a widely-circulated
poem called The Youth Soccer Coach that exemplifies this
fact. The last lines, as addressed to those named in the
title, are as follows: “I hope you’re concerned,
but not really offended. It’s the need for more skill
that I have defended. You’re giving your all, from
the good of your heart. Why not make sure the kids get the