Paul McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review.

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Stas was a legend and always will be. He was the soccer player I always wanted to be and the surrogate son to my father. Words can describe the remembrance we had in memory of Stas on Friday and funeral on Saturday. Stas' brother Joey made the best speech (followed by Barger, Groll, Vinton, and many others). Special thanks to Mike Powers (former Loyola goalkeeper & asst. coach with Bill Sento) who is a great friend of Stas and the Loyola soccer family. There is a brotherhood/family among us that was stengthened over the weekend - and I know that's what Stas would have wanted. My prayers go out to Margaret, Nicole and Matthew.

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Excellent story Paul - I am travelling from So Florida today with a heavy heart. I became very close with Stas after our years on the Loyola campus where we attending. I was 3 years older. I opted to switch from soccer to basketball his fresh,an year - had I known he would have been the leader he was I would have stayed. We were roommates, friends, and confidants and have children about the same age. We even married Europeans and lived in Miami. Words can not express the heavy heart I have today. More than a great captain, dedicated player and sportsman on the pitch, I admired Stas for the man off it as well, for the son, husband and father her was, and for the loyal friend he was. I told this morning his younger cousin from Clifton whom he pushed and praised, and taught.....he was a throw back to years gone. when America was a plenty with 1st generation immigrants that made this country what it is. The likes of Stas Koziol - a dedicated man where the simple things in life were special and who placed such great importance on those things - loyal friendship that remained, family ties that never broke and a selfless love for his children and wife that he never said "I" but always "We" in their lives, struggles, and accomplishments. Eventhough he pass way too soon, his children (Matthew & Nicole) must remember what made his so special and realize his is still with us.

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Despite Towson dropping the ball, Olszewski’s soccer legacy continues to grow


On May 19, Mary and I followed one of our grandsons to Germantown, where his Fewster FC won the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association U-13 title. His coach is Barry Stitz, best known as the coach of Archbishop Curley but a fine player in his own right a generation ago at Towson University.

On an adjoining field, the U-14 title went to the Baltimore Bays, who were under the guidance of Pat Healey, who was filling in for Frank Assaro while he upgraded his coaching license. Assaro played with Stitz at Towson. Healey, the Baltimore Blast star, is one of the most distinguished players ever to come out of the university. I never wrote about him there, like I did about Assaro and Stitz, but I did teach him in a Sports Media class at Towson in the spring of 2008.

That day in Germantown, I sensed the presence of Frank Olszewski before I saw him. Of course he was there, watching the good come out of guys he taught.

Olszewski coached Towson University from 1982 through last season, when the college’s hierarchy eliminated a program that was producing educators and business leaders before the Tigers ever fielded a football team.

(I am a Towson grad, with multiple axes to grind on this issue. One of my brothers played for Towson and coached at Mount St. Mary’s, which also dropped men’s soccer after last season. We scratch our heads and ask: Nineteen years after the U.S. staged one of the most successful World Cups ever, why do the boys born in 1994 have fewer college playing options than their fathers?)

Soccer coach Frank Olszewski, center, continues to mentor many of the men he coached at Towson University, such as Frank Assaro, left, and Rich Zinkand, who now coach at Calvert Hall. 

Towson took Olszewski’s program, but it cannot remove his legacy, which keeps growing through the guys who played for him, such as Assaro, Healey, Stitz and many others coaching at the club, scholastic and collegiate level. Olszewski was not boastful that day in Germantown, either. He took the accomplishments of his protégés in his customary low-key manner.

Assaro and Stitz played at Curley. Assaro is an assistant at Calvert Hall, where the head coach is Rich Zinkand, another Towson alumnus (they flank Olszewski in the accompanying photo). Zinkand and Healey, the Baltimore Blast star, went to Calvert Hall.

Olszewski played for Patapsco High and John Hopkins University, but his Catholic roots run just as deep. Born and raised on Fleet Street in Highlandtown, he continued to attend the old Holy Rosary School even after his family moved to Dundalk. He and his wife, Diane, moved from Our Lady of Hope Parish in Dundalk to Immaculate Conception in Towson, where their kids went to grade school, and are now parishioners of Church of the Nativity in Timonium.

“Faith,” Olszewski said, “isn’t something you fall back on as a quick fix when adversity comes. It’s there all the time.” 

Stitz still considers Olszewski his mentor. Not because he won close to 300 games and went to two NCAA tournaments, but because his Tiger teams also won academic distinction and he keeps the proper perspective.

“He (Olszewski) didn’t put winning ahead of his values, he always did things the right way,” Stitz said. “The biggest thing I got from him, he brought his family around. He was a coach, but family came first. I want my players to see me not only as their coach, I want them to see me as a good husband, a good father. Just like Frank.”

Olszewski continues to be employed at Towson, where he stayed on as an assistant in the athletic department, filling a variety of roles. He could not afford to walk away from a job and besides, going off in a huff is not his style.

While there is no Colonial Athletic Association opener to prepare for, Olszewski is getting his soccer fix with the Baltimore Bays, as the coach of their U-16 and U-18 teams. He’s also the club’s academy director and director of coaching, still teaching the next generation.

8/22/2013 1:03:39 PM
By Paul McMullen