November 23, 2016
About that picture of Bruce Arena
By Michael Lewis
Bruce Arena, circa 1969 or 1970 (left) along with Ben Alberto, the other goalkeeper for Nassau Community College.
From the photo collection of Michael Lewis
Here on Long Island, it is a cold day on Thanksgiving Eve.
Compared to the events of the past two days, it has been a slow news morning in our favorite sport, so I figured I would tackle a subject that has been in the news the past few days:
And his hair circa 1969 or 1970.
He is pictured in a black-and-white photo with another Nassau Community College goalkeeper, Ben Alberto.
Someone wrote me that he thought that Arena had a Beatles haircut. Well, given the time, I could understand why. He had longer hair back then. Heck, I did as well before it starting falling out.
In 1970, during my meteoric rise to managing editor of the Vignette, the student newspaper at Nassau Community College, I wound up writing about the soccer team a couple of times and wrote about this goalkeeper, although I never saw him play (I did see him play college lacrosse, and Arena was an exceptional midfielder, but that's another story for another time).
Anyway, I wound up with a copy of a photo of Arena and Alberto. It wound up in my files and for some reason I never threw it out. And I'm glad I didn't because it was used many years later, in my 2002 edition of World Cup Soccer. I also gave Arena a copy of the photo.
While doing some house cleaning recently, I found a copy of the Vignette, the student newspaper at NCC, from Nov. 19, 1969. It was a year before I attended the Uniondale, N.Y. college, but a story on the back page -- the sports page -- attracted my attention.
The story's headline:
Soccer Socked It to 'Em
It was written by Rich Weinstein and this is what he said about the soccer team, which compiled "a fantastic 8-1-1 record," while outscoring its opponents, 60-8:
"One of the reasons for Nassau's surge to the top is the man who has the toughest job on the field. Bruce Arena, a freshman goalie, has been all but untouchable. Coach [Bill] Stevenson is fortunate to have such a fine goalie. And to think that Bruce will be around tearing part other schools' high aspirations next year."
As it turns out, I had by-lined stories about Arena and the NCC soccer team's exploits several times my freshman year at the school.
As good as he was as a soccer player, he was much better as a lacrosse player -- a midfielder. He went on to Cornell University, where he earned All-America honors in lax. As it turns out, I watched him play against the Orangemen when I transferred to Syracuse University.
Just who knew that our paths would cross so many times in the future.