Most people make excuses to miss work or practices simply because they lack motivation or desire.
In the case of Dolores Jose, she has not missed as much as a meeting in her 35 years associated with the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) and was inducted into the LIJSL Hall of Fame Friday night during a ceremony at the Huntington Hilton for her contributions to a sport to which she has given her all.
“It is amazing,” the 62-year old Mineola resident said. “When LIJSL called to inform me – Dolores we got a letter – I was crying all day. All I calls I got saying ‘I’m excited for you!’ I had to tell them I’m not retiring!”
Jose’s family has been ubiquitous with recreational soccer on Long Island dating back to 1948 when her father, a Portugese immigrant and WWII veteran, created the Long Island Senior League, which featured teams from four Nassau County towns.
Dolores would attend the games every Sunday.
“Soccer was our life,” she said, being a member of the East Meadow Wings of the Women’s League.
It was at the soccer field that she met her husband, Ilidio, at the age of 15 while he was playing against Jose’s father.
Ilidio was a tremendous player, Jose described him as a “legend” in the league and with whom she had two children, David and Ann-Marie.
Jose established the Long Island Junior League and began coaching her daughter’s team when she was six. She then became a board member and a coordinator of the 19U age group.
Along the way, she became one of the most recognizable and beloved coaches in the league's history. Her teams would often practice twice per week in preparation for the games, even while coaching the younger age groups that aren't accustomed to weekly practices.
Jose never lost her love for the game of soccer even as David grew up and played ice hockey for Hofstra University.
There have been obstacles to navigate through while coaching for such an extended period of time, such as not having enough players to compete in a game.
“Everyone has different things going on in life,” Jose said. “So many people get hurt, or can’t be at the game. Still, we've never had to forfeit a game."
Even with her best playing days behind her, Jose can still keep up with the younger players.
"I’m still active, I’ll play when we need an extra player,” she said.”
Now she coaches her granddaughter, Olivia, who is currently five years old and in her third season, whom she thought might not have what it takes to be a soccer player until she was forced to one day play on the opposing team and scored three goals against her grandmother’s team.
“Now it seems like she scores three, four, five goals per game,” Jose said. “I guess that’s what it took.”
After three-and-a-half decades of coaching Jose admits that it is hard to simply blend in anymore as people seem to recognize her everywhere she goes.
“People will come up to me and say ‘Hi Dolores! You coached me!’ I might not remember them exactly but I’ll say ‘Oh yeah you were a good player’.”
Jose doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon, even after being bestowed with the Hall of Fame honor and waitressing at the Mineola Diner five days per week.
“I'm coaching these kids – I’ve never got paid – I just do it because I love it.”