[OBITUARY]Gene Chyzowych, who coached boys soccer at New Jersey's Columbia High School for 50 years and served as the U.S. national team coach in 1973, died at the age of 78 on Saturday following a lengthy illness.
Born in Ukraine, Gene moved to Philadelphia at the age of 13 from war-torn Europe with his parents and two brothers, Walter and Ihor. Like his brothers, Gene was a local soccer star, playing at Temple University and then professionally in the United States and Canada. He starred for the Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals, one of the great teams of the 1950s.
He began teaching as a physical education instructor at Columbia High School in 1963. Maplewood and South Orange were soccer hotbeds before there were such things on the East Coast, and he led Columbia to four state championships.
Like Walter, who died in 1994, Gene coached the national team, compiling a record of three wins and two losses. He was one of the first three coaches awarded "A" licenses when German Dettmar Cramerstarted the U.S. Soccer coaching program. In January, Chyzowych, was honored with the Walt Chyzowych Lifetime Achievement Award by the NSCAA.
The 2007 Hollywood feature film “Gracie” was inspired by two of Chyzowych's former players, Elizabeth and Andrew Shue, and he made an appearance in the film.
He also coached girls volleyball, leading the program to 12 straight years without a defeat.