(September 10, 2009) -- Coach and Social Studies teacher, Gregg Tavani, has been named Duluth High School Teacher of the Year for the 2009-2010 school year. Of winning this honor, Tavani states, "I am honored to be the teacher of the year at such a great school, and part of such a great faculty and staff. Also, I would like to congratulate Marsha Hunter, David Curlette, and the other candidates that were nominated." Congratulations Coach Tavani and good luck at the county level!
Of the more thna 11,000 Gwinnett County Public School teachers, 112 have been honored by their colleagues as the 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year at their local schools. The announcement is the beginning of the official search for Gwinnett County's 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year, an annual celebration recognizing the power of each teacher as they challenge Gwinnett children for a successful future.
By Christine Troyke
July 2, 2009
Gwinnett Daily Post
DULUTH - In their seventh season, the Tavani Soccer camps have long offered top-notch coaching in the variety of skills needed to excel at the sport. A family enterprise, Duluth head soccer coach Gregg Tavani is the program's director, but his parents and brothers are also involved.
What started with a one-week camp and 50 kids, now includes five weeks in two counties and over 300 participants.
"Even through the economy, it's done pretty well," Tavani said. "We just love the game of soccer, the chance to be around family and coaching kids. It's been a lot of fun."
There are two more camps this summer, one starting Tuesday that runs through July 11 and another from July 13-17. Both camps are for boys and girls age 7 to 15 and run from 9 a.m. to noon daily at Bunten Park in Duluth. The cost $145 and includes a T-shirt, a hand-stitched soccer ball and player evaluation.
"We do a different topic every day," Tavani said. "It's passing one day, dribbling another. We have a tournament and work on shooting. It's all organized and safe for the kids."
There's also an elite camp for players age 10 to 15 who are interested in more intense training. Those run from noon until 1:30 p.m. the same weeks as the regular camps. They are $65 per session.
For more information or to register, go to www.tavanisoccer.com.
By Christine Troyke
July 2, 2009
Gwinnett Daily Post
Filiberto Tavani has been involved in the Atlanta soccer scene since moving here in 1979. He coached his three boys, including his middle son, Gregg, who is the head soccer coach at Duluth High School. The entire family is involved in the Tavani Soccer Camps, a seven-year enterprise that offers week long summer camps at Bunten Park in Duluth.
Filiberto Tavani grew up playing street soccer in Naples, Italy, but immigrated to the U.S. when he was 12 and lived in the New York area until his work as an electrical engineer brought him to metro Atlanta.
For this installment of "Getting to Know ...." Tavani talks with staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including soccer in America and overseas, where his loyalties lie and learning English.
CT: So I was kind of hoping for an Italian accent.
FT: (Laughs) You got a Brooklyn accent. A Brooklyn-Italian accent.
CT: You've been involved in the Atlanta soccer scene for 30 years now?
FT: It started off when I was a kid, obviously, playing soccer. But nothing formal. You'd go in the streets and you'd play. Most of us didn't have a ball so actually we made balls out of mostly old socks. That was the thing. In cobblestone streets. That's where we played.
When I got here, there was no soccer here (the U.S.) in '56. Nothing. So I got into baseball and football and all that stuff in terms of being a fan.
But I always said, someday when I have kids, they're going to be playing soccer. So I started coaching all three of them. I did that for seven years.
In '79 we came to Atlanta from New Jersey. I grew up in New York after six months in Ohio. And mostly Brooklyn. I went to school in New York and all that sort of stuff. When I started working, got moved around to Long Island, then New Jersey and now 30 years in Atlanta.
CT: What's your opinion on why soccer's status in the U.S. remains, you know ...
FT: Second tier.
CT: When it's obviously, hands-down, the most popular sport worldwide.
FT: Yeah. If you go to Europe, Italy as an example, it's soccer. That's the sport. You have cycling races and a little bit of everything else. But soccer is the sport.
Here, you've got baseball, football, basketball. You've got all these major sports and that gets in the way. If you didn't have all those other sports, soccer would easily be as big as anywhere else.
CT: I was thinking, too, that if you tried to take American football to any other country, you'd have just as hard a time convincing them to play that instead of soccer.
FT: Much harder. They tried. They had the European football league, so they tried.
But soccer, in terms of fans, versus here - versus even football here - is more passionate. Soccer in Italy is more passionate than football fans here, as much of fanatics as they are.
I'll give you an example. As a kid, there used to be a little deli store kind of thing. Everybody talked soccer there, all the time. I remember as a kid going in there and they had a bet between a customer and the guy who owned the store. One was from Rome and one was from Naples. They said, 'We're going to beat you,' 'No, we're going to beat you.' Went through all that. And bottom line was, whoever lost had to walk naked in the street. This was in the '50s!
CT: When the U.S. and Italy play each other ...
FT: I'm an Italian fan. That's an easy one. I root for the U.S., but I'm an Italian fan. It hurts watching Italy play because every second of the way I'm watching. I know all the players. I watch all the games all year long.
CT: The U.S. was only blemish on Italy's perfect record in (the 2006 World Cup).
FT: And they scored themselves! But hey, they're champs.
CT: You moved here as a teenager?
FT: I was 12 years old.
CT: Was it a difficult transition?
FT: Well, I'll tell you what, first of all I couldn't speak English. The toughest thing was living in Ohio, because I went from a big city to a little town. At night, it was actually dark. But that only lasted five months. My mother couldn't find a job, so we moved to Brooklyn.
By the time I was in Brooklyn, there was an Italian neighborhood and after a while I became the translator for all the kids that moved in. Within a year, I could speak English and was playing stickball. I became an American kid in a short period of time.
CT: How did you learn English?
FT: It started off with television and my aunt, she spoke Italian and English. I remember my teacher in Ohio gave me 10 words every day that my aunt would tell me. I remember when I hit 'handkerchief', I said, wow, what a tough word. This is tough. The spellings in English are hard.
CT: I don't envy anybody having to learn English as a second language.
FT: But as a 12-year-old, it wasn't bad. I had television and my aunt and then Brooklyn. You get fluent in it.
But as my kids say, as my wife says, I get more Italian as I get older.
CT: Why did your family move to the U.S.?
FT: Very simple, the story of immigrants. It was my mother and I, just a better future. Pretty straightforward. I have a special place in my heart for all immigrants because I am one. Yeah, you come here just for a better future. And obviously I got one.
CT: It seems like it's still true that if you're willing to work in America you can have a better life. Whereas there are a lot of countries in the world where you can work as hard as you want and you may never get anywhere.
FT: Yep. You know, the street are paved with gold somewhat. They really are.
My mother worked in the garment industry in Manhattan. She became a seamstress and made a living. And because it was New York, I got a free college education going to City College. America has been good to me.
CT: And soccer is obviously still a big part of your family.
FT: We're a soccer family.
CT: You're wife (Elaine) even helps out.
FT: We're the gofers (laughing), my wife and I.
But it's great having mom help. She takes off from work, she works part time, and she arranges her whole schedule so she can be here all the time. Seven years ago we started this thing saying, hey, let's make it a family affair.
CT: How did you meet your wife?
FT: I'd just gotten my master's degree in Manhattan. That was in '69. So I went to celebrate. I lived in Brooklyn and went to celebrate in Manhattan. My wife worked in Manhattan. Her and her friends were in this restaurant. There was three of us and three of them. So we sent drinks over to where they were eating. Didn't even smile or anything at me. Turned out that she didn't have her glasses so she couldn't see our table.
Later on we went to sort of the bar area and, you know, we met. We started dating and that was it.
That was the first, and only time, that we had ever been to this restaurant.
CT: How often do you go back to Italy?
FT: Well, the last two years I've been back. My father is from the northern part of Italy, a place called Udine, close to the Slovenia border. My mother is from Napoli. I was born in Milano and I had blondish hair. We moved to Naples when I was about 6 years old and everybody was darker.
Even then I was a Yankee living down in the South.
And they did make fun of me because I had a 'northern accent.' But then I picked up my southern Italian accent. Which is interesting because the first time I went back, I was 25 years old, and I was in Florence. I was talking to guys in Italian and they would say, 'You're from Naples.' I was amazed. (Laughing) So I have my Napoli don accent, like down here I have a New York accent.
But last year I was back in Naples with my family there. I have cousins everywhere. My mother was the oldest one of nine. My father was one of 10 and he was the youngest. So first cousins, I have, probably 30 or 40. Of which I've met, probably half of them. But the ones in Naples, I grew up with. In fact one was my best friend. We were about the same age and like two brothers.
So we spent a week there. And the year before I went up to see the northern family.
We're not going this year, but next year. As often as I can.
CT: I think anybody would love to have an excuse to go to Italy.
FT: But if you go to Italy, you've got to go to Naples and have the best pizza in the world. It's heaven.
Italians, when they get up in the morning, they say, 'What am I going to have for dinner?' Americans, at 6 o'clock say, 'What are we having for dinner?' It's a mentality.
CT: Do you have a specialty you make yourself?
FT: Simple thing. I make a good marinara sauce. It takes 30 minutes to make and it's fabulous and the ingredients are as simple as they come. As often as I can.
2009 Boys AAAAA -- Collins Hill
2009 Boys AAAA -- Marist
2009 Boys AAA -- St Pius X
2009 Boys AA/A -- Greater Atlanta Christian
2009 Girls AAAAA -- Parkview
2009 Girls AAAA -- Marist
2009 Girls AAA -- St Pius X
2009 Girls AA/A -- Walker
U.S. FACES ITALY, BRAZIL IN CONFEDERATIONS CUP
The 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, held June 14-28 in South Africa, is made up of the six champions of each regional confederation, the defending World Cup Champions, and the host nation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The United States is in a tough first-round group with defending World Cup champions Italy (June 15, 12:25 p.m. Eastern, ESPN), 5-time World Cup champions Brazil (June 21, 2:25 p.m., ESPN) and Egypt (June 21, 2:25 p.m., ESPN2). ESPN and ESPN2 will televise all 16 matches. See ESPN schedule »
WOMEN'S PROFESSIONAL SOCCER
Marta, the Brazilian and world's best female player, is proving her worth as her Los Angeles Sol have double the amount of wins as the next best team in the first-year WPS. The Washington Freedom and Boston Breakers follow the Sol in the season standings.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
MLS Season 14 is in full swing. With two more draws in last week’s games, 33 of 84 matches, 39 percent, in MLS this season have ended tied. Finally, after a string of 5 straight ties and 9 draws in its last 10 games, the Los Angeles Galaxy (2-1-9) actually won a game, 2-1, at Toronto (4-5-4). The Galaxy is awaiting the return of David Beckham as Landon Donovan prepares to leave with the United States national team for the Confederations Cup in South Africa.
FC BARCELONA -- CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE
FC Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 last Wednesday in Rome in the UEFA Champions League Final to win their third trophy of the season. The Boston Breakers and Washington
TAVANI SOCCER CAMPS IN OUR 7TH YEAR IN DULUTH & FORSYTH
Sign up now for our 2009 camps for boys and girls, ages 7-15. Elite camps are for boys & girls 10-15.Register now »
- June 15 - 19 -- Sharon Springs Park (Forsyth) 9 am - 12 pm
- June 22 - 26 -- Sharon Springs Park (Forsyth) 9 am - 12 pm
- June 22 - 26 -- Bunten Park (Duluth) 9 am - 12pm -- plus Elite Camp (12 - 1:30 pm)
- July 7 - 11 -- Bunten Park (Duluth) 9 am - 12 pm -- plus Elite Camp (12 - 1:30 pm)
- July 13 - 17 -- Bunten Park (Duluth) 9 AM - 12 PM -- plus Elite Camp (12 - 1:30 pm)
TAVANI SOCCER ON TWITTER
Follow our latest news on Twitter - @tavanisoccer »
By Robert Haddocks
July 25, 2008
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Soccer player Mohammed Dolleh is a long way from Liberia, where he spent his early years running away from rebels. He’s found safety, but he’s not out of the woods yet.
“Every time I wake up, it’s on my mind. I’m living in kind of fear,” Dolleh said.
One year after graduating from Duluth High, Dolleh hasn’t yet been granted asylum. His work permit, which allows him to remain in the United States, expires in January. Dolleh expects to present his case to an immigration judge in January. The judge could renew his permit, grant him permanent resident status or deny his request, “and that comes with deportation,” Dolleh said.
Dolleh, who lives with a brother in Alpharetta, doesn’t want to return to his native land, where he saw both of his parents slaughtered by rebels and lived his life on the run. He wants to become a U.S. citizen and fulfill his dream of getting a college degree.
“That would allow me to live in no more fear, and I could go to college and not worry about anything and live a normal life,” he said.
Life for Dolleh looked normal last week. He was in his element, playing the sport he loves â€”- soccer â€”- and teaching it to a bunch of eager, excitable kids at the camp of his former coach at Duluth, Gregg Tavani.
“The kids just love him,” Tavani said. “He does a great job with the kids. This is Mo’s second year at the camp and I guess he’s more comfortable. He does a great job demonstrating, and it’s like he has a magnetic personality. He’s got a way with the kids. They enjoy being coached by him.”
It’s reciprocal. Working with the kids is “amazing,” Dolleh said, and he says he learns something new from them every day. Dolleh, who grew up playing soccer on dirt roads, said it’s great to see young kids playing organized soccer. “We never had those opportunities,” he said.
Dolleh is getting paid to work the camp, but he would do it for free, he said, to repay Tavani for all he’s done. Last year, Tavani led a concerted effort that resulted in the Georgia High School Association overturning its initial decision and allowing Dolleh to play soccer.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Dolleh said of the coach. “Even after graduation, he still calls me and asks how I’m doing and making sure I stay on the right track. He’s a big brother and a mentor.”
Tavani said he tries to keep in touch with many of his former players. It’s an obligation he feels as a teacher and a coach.
“But Mo, he’s a special one,” Tavani said. “He’s had a pretty tough life. There’s definitely a little different feeling because he doesn’t have any parents and because he’s a great young man.”
Dolleh hopes he’ll be granted permanent resident status and soon after he’d be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.
He and Tavani are still in contact with coaches at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, where the player would like to enroll.
That is Dolleh’s dream.
“I feel like education is the key to everything in life,” he said. “Education should be a priority for every person.
“Once you have education, you’ll be able to find your way in everything you want to do.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - by Robert Haddocks
May 23, 2007
Gregg Tavani’s soccer season never ends.
He coaches the Duluth Wildcats. He coaches three club soccer teams. And for the fifth year, he’ll head Tavani Soccer camp, inviting youngsters from the area to learn the game that he loves. The 31-year-old coach said he never gets tired of coaching soccer.
“It’s my passion, my love and my profession,” he said. “It’s not even an issue. I’m going to do this for as long as I can.”
The three-week camp has gotten bigger each year and Tavani expects that to continue. Dates for the camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon, are June 25-29, July 9-13 and July 16-20. It is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 15. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended.
“Last year we had more than 300 kids, and so far we’re on track for more,” Tavani said. “The camp is getting bigger, so we’re definitely excited.”
This year’s theme will be Major League Soccer, which, with stars like David Beckham, is gaining popularity in the United States, Tavani said. Campers will participate in trivia games related to MLS, just one way Tavani keeps the camp fun.
“The way I try to coach in general is a balance of intensity and fun,” Tavani said. “Kids respond well when you’re intense, but they know you care for them. We get after it. It’s fun, intense and we have a lot of games. It’s very competitive.”
Tavani will continue the tradition of having former players coach at the camp. Former all-state midfielder Chris Davis (2003) returns from Furman. He’ll be joined by Chris Ugarte (2006) and Mohamed Dolleh (2007). Girls returning include Kara Bennewitz (2004) and Emily Bender (2004), an All-American at Berry College.
Along with the fun and competition, each camp participant will receive a skills evaluation at the close of the camp, and a T-shirt and soccer ball. “It’s a camp atmosphere,” Tavani said. “We’re not just a little flash in the pan. We’re here to stay.”
The camp costs $135 for one week, $245 for two and $355 for three. For more information, visit www.tavanisoccer.com.