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Chattin’ With: Pete Caringi, Part II

Pete Caringi with Levi Houapeu after the Retrievers upset Princeton in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. It was UMBC's first NCAA Tournament victory and later Houapeu became the first Retriever to be drafted by an MLS team.

Pete Caringi with Levi Houapeu after the Retrievers upset Princeton in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. It was UMBC’s first NCAA Tournament victory and later Houapeu became the first Retriever to be drafted by an MLS team.

In part one of “Chattin’ With: Pete Caringi” we talked a lot about his team and UMBC’s incredible run to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. How that helped with recruiting and what it has meant to him to be a part of the school’s program for such a long time. But now, we get into the tough questions. UMBC coach Pete Caringi says why he feels soccer is so big in the area, how heart-broken he was when Towson and Mount St. Mary’s cut their programs and who he thinks the best player to come out of Baltimore is.

Corey Johns: Why is soccer so big in Maryland?

Pete Caringi: I think it goes back to the history of the immigrants come over and it started in east Baltimore. When I was a kid we went to the local school lot and the older men there were playing and competing for national championships. That was back in the 1950s. We heard of men like Larry Surock, who grew up in my neighborhood played on an Olympic team. We were ahead of our time growing up when soccer was so big in the whole town. There were a lot of great players and great teams. The competition amongst one another was unbelievable and it grew from there and continues to grow and grow. East Baltimore was the center of it in the 60s and 70s and now it’s a phenomenal sport across the state. Sometimes I feel it’s one of the best kept secrets in the state because other sports get recognition but it’s always been good here. Go out to any park and a soccer game is being played.

CJ: Settle the debate: Who is the best player to come out of Baltimore?

Caringi: I’ve seen a lot of guys play and I would never say who was better. When I was a kid I saw Larry Surock play. I played with Sonny Askew. I saw Joe Speca play. I saw Santino Quaranta play. It’s a matter of opinion. I don’t get involved in picking the best of all time because there are too many good players and every era is different. I’m just going to say there are a lot of great players to come out of Baltimore. Too many to specify one player.

CJ: That is the most political answer I’ve ever heard.

Caringi: It’s the right answer though. Every one has their opinion. Especially in soccer, soccer is the one sport 10 people could watch one game and you’ll get nine different evaluations on one player. There are so many players throughout the state or Maryland. I just read something that said Bruce Murray was the best player to ever come out of Maryland so everyone has their options.

Caringi back in his playing days with the Washington Diplomats of the NASL.

Caringi back in his playing days with the Washington Diplomats of the NASL.

CJ: What was your initial reaction when Towson cut it’s program?

Caringi: I was upset and I’m still upset about it because even though we competed against them I think the coaching staff over there did a great job, Frank Olsewski is a friend of mine, they ran a good program and they are very successful on and off the field and have a lot of graduates who were very successful. To me, when we lose a college soccer program we all lose. Them losing their program and Mount St. Mary’s was a blow to soccer and blow to soccer in Maryland. We’re sitting here talking about how big it is and it’s a hotbed, I just never could understand it. It upsets me and makes me mad today even talking about it because I think they should still have their program.

And I guess the real reason it really bothers me because as I sit here there is a flier on my desk about the University of Baltimore and the history of that. I played in a program and won a national championship and have great fond memories of it from back in the 70s and I’m sitting here talking about it but today, in 2015, there is not a kid in Baltimore who knows what I’m taking about. I know all the history of Towson and the Mount. Years from now we’re going to remember Towson having a team and kids from that era are not going to know about it and that’s sad for the players and the alumni.

CJ: Who was the biggest jokester you ever had on your team?

Caringi: Pete Eibner.

CJ: He’s a comedian in his spare time of being a soccer coach.

Caringi: He came in at Essex Community College with me and then came here. He was always funny and I always encouraged him to be the best he can and I was amazed at how great he was when I went to a comedy club and actually saw him on stage and how funny he was. To this day he’ll call me and crack a joke on the phone.

CJ: What player stands out and a guy who improved the most from freshman year to their senior year?

Caringi: There are a lot. A lot of them are names you wouldn’t recognize but look at Stephen Ho. I’m not saying he needed to improve that much but he went from a walk-on to starting a Final Four game. Spencer Williams was a walk-on and got four rings. I think the post I’ve seen a player jump was a really good P.J. Wakefield his first two years and then a great P.J. Wakefield his next two years and then a great professional P.J. Wakefield that was the captain of the Blast and won more championships than anyone I know.

CJ: Who was the most most dedicated extra time worker? The guy who always put in the extra time.

Caringi: It’s a difficult question because of how many years its been but when you look at the good players a lot of them are dedicated. Very few players come on the field and are really good who walk onto the field and just walk off. You have to cultivate your craft 12 months of the year. I can’t single one out because there are a lot of guys. With all the success we’ve had you can pick any of them and they put in a lot of extra time.

CJ: Who was the biggest shocker than never got a chance to go pro?

Caringi: Everyone has their reasons for why they don’t want to do things. I don’t want to sit here and second guess why a player didn’t go pro. You go to a University to get your education and come in as a wide-eyed freshman and leave as pros but you don’t need to be a pro soccer player to be successful. That same person who didn’t pursue being a pro could be really successful in his field and in life. To me that’s making it, you don’t need to play pro soccer if you have your heart somewhere else.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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