This seems to be a week of bad news for youth soccer. A girls soccer coach in suburban Illinois has been charged with 14 felonies, including sexual assault, sexual abuse, and obstruction of justice.
Authorities said 36-year-old Gustavo Nicosia was arrested at his workplace and was transported to the Naperville Detention Center, according to a news release. Nicosia was being held on a $500,000 bond, and was due in court Wednesday afternoon.
Naperville police said Nicosia had a sexual relationship with one of his players, who was just 16 years old. Authorities said she came forward after telling her youth minister about the alleged relationship. Police said they were also investigating allegations that have been made by an 18-year-old female. Police said one of the incidents took place at the Just For Kicks soccer facility in Plainfield. Authorities also said Nicosia worked at Galaxy Soccer Club and the Naperville Lightning Soccer Club.
He is currently out on bond and is forbidden from coaching female players.
His current league, the Naperville Lightening SC, as placed him on leave and removed his information from their website (found here in Google’s cache):
Gus, as he is commonly known, grew up in Argentina where he played professionally for River Plate. He continued his professional career in Italy as well as Chicago. Gus worked at ASC in Naperville for many years, most recentlt coaching their U14 and U17 teams. Both of these teams competed in the Midwest Regional league and have been very successful. Gus’s enthusiasm for the game of soccer and his passion for working with kids make him a perfect fit for Lightning Soccer Club.
It should be noted that the alleged incidents happened while he was at his previous position at American’s Soccer Club, not the Naperville Lightening SC.
While many of his parents expressed disbelief that he was capable of doing this, one mother was incensed that her concerns about Nicosia were ignored before the incidents supposedly took place:
Kathy Borchardt was angry and disappointed, but not shocked when she heard Naperville police were investigating a soccer coach.
"I was not surprised," said the Naperville woman, whose daughter was once on an America’s Soccer Club team. "When the detective said a former soccer coach, I knew immediately who they were talking about."
Borchardt said she witnessed inappropriate behavior on several occasions between Nicosia and girls he coached. She said she saw Nicosia hugging girls and giving girls rides in his car.
"I knew (the behavior) wasn’t enough to press charges, but it was not appropriate," Borchardt said.
The DOC from America’s Soccer Club did not recall the allegations and insisted they had never had any complaints.
Clearly that type of behavior is a red flag. As someone from one of Nicosia’s previous clubs noted, coaches have to make sure they don’t put themselves into any position where they’re alone with a player:
From August 2000 to December 2001, Nicosia was a trainer for the Galaxy Soccer Club. However, Lou Varchetto, a member of the board of directors for Galaxy Soccer Club, insisted Nicosia’s alleged conduct did not occur during his time at Galaxy.
Varchetto said that although the charges are merely accusations, it serves as a reminder to all coaches.
"We always stress with our coaching staff that you never put yourself in a position where you are going to have any issues at all," Varchetto said. "You don’t give rides home, you are not to be alone with kids. You don’t do anything outside the coaching situation. Coaching is coaching and only that."
Nicosia is no longer affiliated with the club in any way, Varchetto said.
One coach had a good way to handle the ‘last player at practice’ issue when they were the only team there. The 2nd to the last parent had to stay till the last parent arrived. That way you not only had proper supervision, you also gave the parents an incentive to be on time!
This is a horrible situation and if he is guilty, I hope he’s put away for a long, long time. The good news is that most soccer leagues now run full background checks on all of their volunteers and are working harder and harder to educate coaches and staff on warning signs. Though that likely wouldn’t have helped in this case as he apparently had no previous record. However, while I absolutely believe in due diligence, I hope something like this doesn’t cause the governing organizations to go too overboard (psych profiles, etc.) and start presuming guilt before innocence.