Article originally appreared in Soccer Long Island Magazine.
By David Harris
Steve Schneider is a terrific member of the soccer community here on Long Island. He’s an example of all that is good about it. As a player with Dowling College and in the LISFL with Port Jefferson, and now as an assistant coach with Dowling, he’s already accomplished a tremendous amount. Not many people can claim to win a national championship, but Steve was part of a very special team that was able to do that with Dowling in 2006. The unique chemistry that the team had lives on today with many of the members from that team now playing for Port Jefferson in the LISFL. Recently, I was able to catch up with Steve to review his accomplishments in the game.
DH: How is the season going so far with Port Jefferson in the LISFL?
SS: The season is going great so far despite the tough loss the other day. We have been on top of the league for the whole first half of the season, and we hope to continue to keep the winning tradition alive in the spring, and win the league.
DH: When did you join the club and what led you to play with them?
SS: I joined Port Jefferson orginally in 2010. I then played on other teams like Mineola and Forest Park because of personal reason, however I would like to thank Head Coach Craig for allowing me to join Port Jeff once again in 2012. Craig is a great guy and we all love and appreciate everything he does for us at Port Jeff. Port Jefferson is comprised of Dowling Alumni Soccer players. Being a Dowling Alumnus myself, I wanted to continue to play with my brothers again because we had so much success playing together in college. We won the national championship together in 2006, quarterfinalist in 2007 and a national Finals in 2008. I have great memories with these guys I consider them my family, we always preach brotherhood. We have great chemistry and cohesiveness on the field. We demand a lot from eachother and expect great things because of our past success’s at the college level. This is what makes us very competitive and successful because we always push each other to be great.
DH: How has playing in the LISFL helped you to improve as a player?
SS: Playing in the LISFL has helped me improve as a soccer player because of the great competition. We do not just play teams in our league, we play in the state cup as well where we play against teams from the city, etc. Playing against opponents you do not see throughout your regular season helps your competitive edge individually as a player and collectively as a team.
DH: What does the LISFL provide for you and other guys who are looking to continue playing soccer after playing in high school or college?
SS: LISFL is one of the top amatuer leagues, if not THE top leagues around. It allowed myself and others in the league who have played college soccer to continue our careers at a high level. I am very appreciative of this because it gives me the opportunity to come out every Sunday and compete. What makes it even better is that I get to compete with my teammates.
DH: What have been some of the best experiences you’ve had playing with Port Jefferson?
SS: The best experiences playing with Port Jeff I would have to say is being able to play with my brothers. These guys are a big part of my life and we will always be their for each other no matter what. Not many people can say they have had such successful careers as we have had. We all went to Dowling because of it’s great tradition of its soccer program, and being able to continue to play together on Port Jeff after we all graduated is an experience in itself.
DH: What has it been like for you to go from playing on such a successful team at Dowling to now being an assistant coach with the team?
SS: The transition from being on successful teams at Dowling, to being an assistant coach was an easy transition. I have to thank Coach DiRico, the Dowling Administration, the current players and all the Alumni for making the transition easy. They easily could have dismissed me as being their coach (especially the guys I played with who were freshman when I was a senior), however they all believed in me. I had great support from all over which was helpful for my transition. During my first year as Assistant Coach which was in 2010 we had a very successful season making the Final Four. Therefore I would like to thank everyone from the coaches, the players at Dowling, and the Alumni who made the transition from being a player to coach as easy as possible. It’s a great learning experience and growth process as well.
DH: What other teams have you played or trained with, tried out for, etc.?
SS: Growing up I played club soccer for Commack SC Premier under Frank Vertullo who also played and coached at Dowling. He was the assistant at Dowling the year we won the title in 2006, and he is currently the Head Coach at Suffolk Community College where he won another title in 2010. I tried out in Florida at the Info Sport soccer combine with some of the Dowling players in January of 2010.
DH: Going forward, what you are looking to do in soccer and with your life?
SS: My dream one day is to become a head coach at the collegiate level. It would be a dream come true if it was my alma matta. I also want to start my own academy on the Island as well. I have been training club teams since 2008 which was my junior year in College.
DH: What have been some of the best things about playing soccer on Long Island as a youth player?
SS: One of the best things about playing soccer on Long Island as a youth player was the opportunity to be able to be trained by successful coaches and players. They helped me develop into the player I am today. Practicing 3-4 times a week, and being pushed to the limits by my coaches and trainers and my teammates throughout my soccer career at the youth level, I will always be thankful for. Being able to attend soccer camps when I was younger was a great help in improving my abilities as well.
DH: Who have been some of the major influences for you in your development as a player?
SS: The people in my life who have influenced me and my development as a player has to be my parents. If it was not for them driving me to practices all the time and to games, I would not be the player I am today. They were committed and supportive of me playing the sport I love. They always pushed me as well to keep developing, not only as a player, but as a person who showed great character and leadership abilities as well. The coaches who were a great influence on my development as a player are: John DiRico, Frank Vertullo, Karim Diallo, Ben Diallo, Ryan Ash, Leo, Moussa Sy and Mervin Shade. These guys are all Dowling Alumni and were my coaches through my four years. They taught myself and my teammates the great tradition Dowling has and to continue that tradition. They are all great coaches but more importantly great people. I also have my teammates that helped me develop as well. Playing with players who come from all over the world is the greatest exeperience, and being able to play with them and learn from them was a huge help.
DH: What advice would you give to a young person from Long Island who is interested in playing the game and wants to become a better player?
SS: My best advice I would give a young player from Long Island who is interested in playing and wants to become a better player is:
- Have confidence and believe in themselves
- Work hard everyday to master your craft
- Love what you are doing
All of this will lead to success and a better player.