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Alonso hires big name to coach boys soccer

Ex-Leto coach Ray DiPompo comes out of retirement.

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001


TAMPA -- Alonso High is Hillsborough County's newest school, but that hasn't stopped it from assembling one of the most experienced coaching staffs around.

Alonso athletic director Louis Diaz announced eight hirings Friday, plucking coaches from all over the county to fill the staff at the new Town N' Country school. He said the remaining positions, including football coach, will be filled soon.

Leading the way is the un-retirement of former Leto boys soccer coach Ray DiPompo, who will take over the boys soccer team.

DiPompo became a county legend during the '80s, leading Leto to state titles in 1985 and 1987 while winning more than 150 games. He retired after suffering a heart attack and undergoing a triple bypass operation in January 1997, during his 16th season as Falcons coach.

"I was never really out of it. The heart attack kind of took me out of it. I didn't want to get out," DiPompo said.

"I had 20 minutes to live. It was kind of decided for me."

When it came time to hire a soccer coach, Diaz knew who he wanted.

"I've known Ray for a long time. We go back a long way," said Diaz, the former athletic director at Leto. "He's feeling good, and he's doing very, very well."

DiPompo said going from a perennial powerhouse to starting a program from scratch is one of the more intriguing parts of joining Alonso's staff.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge part of it," DiPompo said. "I have no idea what's going to be there; what kind of team it is. I was ready to start yesterday. I'm pumped."

DiPompo isn't the only former Falcon changing colors. Landy Faedo will coach the baseball team, and wrestling coach John Moore will assume the same duties.

Diaz branched out to grab Blake boys basketball coach Dennis Donaldson and Brandon softball coach Laura Gouthro. Roland Park Middle's Deborah Stevens and Robinson's Heidi Quintana will combine to coach the swimming and diving team. Kelly Slusser will move from Robinson to coach girls basketball.

"They are all outstanding people," Diaz said. "I am real, real excited."

Diaz said he has a pretty good idea who will coach the volleyball, cross country, track and golf teams but said nothing has been finalized. A football coach is a priority because spring practice is coming up soon.

"We will announce the football coach very, very soon," Diaz said. "The only sport I don't have a line on right now is tennis."

Alonso meeting

Students who attend Sickles and Jefferson but want to play football at Alonso next year should attend an organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 8 at the Davidson Middle School gym. Anyone wanting to play boys basketball also should attend. For more information, call Alonso at 356-1525.

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