Written by Vinny Messana Tuesday, 20 November 2012 00:00
In reality, Dempsey should not have been shocked that he earned the prestigious honor of being elected into the Hall of Fame considering his incredible accomplishments. He has virtually become the face of the Irish Rover franchise as he has made an impact not only as a player, but also an administrator and currently the club president and league’s third vice-president. During his 30-year tenure he has brought home 10 New York State championships as well as 20 Long Island League championships, 24 Long Island Cup champions and six Sportsmanship Awards. Needless to say, he has made a significant impact on the club.
Dempsey was nominated by the Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL) after being named a Life Member at the club’s annual awards in June. Dempsey will be the 15th member inducted, becoming the first since Malusa Marco in 2010.
“Most of the members that have been inducted were in their sixties, so it is surprising [given] that I am still in my forties,” said Dempsey.
After living in Ireland until the age of 17, Dempsey moved to America in 1985 to continue his soccer career that began at the tender age of five. He became part of amateur club at the urging of his friend Paul Riley. After that, he began his Irish Rover career, which became nothing short of historic.
The Irish Rovers compete in the Division I of the LISFL, which is reserved for the most talented teams. Their most dominated period came during the middle part of last decade where they won four consecutive Division I titles from 2004-’07.
“Willie takes it to heart,” said assistant coach Dominic Temety. “He makes sure everything is good with the team, and he basically assembled the team by himself. He gives it his all.”
Dempsey has been able to pass on his knowledge to younger players since his playing career has moved on. Despite his position as the club president, he is also a member of the reserve squad, which allows him to play in the event of an undermanned roster.
“For a man his age he does a very good job, especially for a striker,” Temety added.
The 46-year-old has proven to be a crucial part of the success of the Irish Rovers over the past 30 years. He will continue to be a part of the organization “for a while” according to Temety, even with his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Although the humble Dempsey will not boast about his achievement he did admit, “they must have been impressed with my track record.” After three decades of unprecedented winning, that is certainly an understatement.