Editorís Note: June is always a big month here at the shore. There are schools graduating, the weather warming up and resort Boardwalks and other attractions are opening for the summer. June also means Fatherís Day, which is Sunday.
For a couple decades, Tom Williams has turned his sports column over to area athletes to write about their fathers.
Another appears in the sports pages this week. This year, Michael Allegretto writes about his father, Mike Ė the longtime recreation director in Ocean City who became the director of operations at The Miss America Pageant in retirement and still officiates sports events.
Michael is a former three-term city councilman in Ocean City who is now director of community services for the city.




A Fatherís Day tribute to Mike Allegretto

By Michael Allegretto
Guest Sports Columnist

To know my father, you must first know an Allegretto and their naturally sociable nature. For those of you who have grown up in Ocean City during the last 60 years, this is an easy accomplishment. One fact many people may not know about my dad is that he is a fraternal twin. He and his twin brother, Andrew, are the oldest of 12 kids Ė 10 boys and two girls. With exactly 20 years apart between my father and his youngest sibling, he had plenty of time during his childhood to hone his skills of organizing activities and coaching.

As a teenager, my dad was a surfer. He starting working at Surfers Supplies for free so he could get the first shot at the new surfboards. I think my parentís first date was going to a surfing movie. I feel lucky my mom stayed with him despite this decision.

In the early 1970s, my dad joined the cityís recreation department. He had a long career with the city and got to know many of the locals and visitors in Ocean City. One of my dadís first recreation department assignments was working at the Youth Center on Friday and Saturday nights. From the mid 1970ís through the early 1980ís, the Youth Center at 6th Street was the place for OC teenagers to hang out. It had music, pool tables, ping pong tables, video games and a snack bar. I can remember being a jealous seven-year-old, who wanted to join the junior high & high school kids that got to hang out and have fun with my dad.

In the late 1970ís, my dad was instrumental in starting Ocean Cityís youth soccer program. Back then, the teams played in the Cape May County Soccer League. Our team was called The Waves and my dad was the head coach. In our second year in the league, our team won the championship. No seven and eight year olds were ever prouder.

During the spring time (in the 1970ís), my father devoted most of his time to coaching the junior high girlís softball team. I was lucky enough to be the bat boy for these teams. Although, I canít remember if I asked for this job or if my mom assigned it to me, I do remember that going to these games were some of the best times I spent with my dad growing up. The best team he ever had was his 1979 softball team which won the New Brunswick tournament. At that time, this was the top tournament in the state! I know that was his favorite team he ever coached.

In the 1980ís my dad continued to coach soccer and softball teams. During this time he also helped coach the Ocean City Hawks football team because I was an aspiring quarterback. He also coached the boys traveling recreation basketball teams. He was becoming a very busy guy, and I appreciated that he was able to continue coaching my teams. Looking back, I realize now how much I enjoyed all of the things I got to do with my dad on game days. During the winter months after the Saturday morning games I would also help my dad by running the movie projector at his Disneyís Movies at the youth center.

If the sports programs werenít keeping my dad busy enough, he also volunteered to be the man inside the first Martin Z Mollusk costume for the city. He traveled all over South Jersey appearing at events. I felt honored to be his sidekick and give out the souvenir pictures.

As I got into high school and played high school sports, my dad was always there to support me. I think he especially enjoyed my time on the golf team, since he felt obligated to play different courses with me every weekend.

As I grew older and graduated from high school, I began to lose touch with everything my father did to help the youth of Ocean City. But I do remember being in college and getting the local Ocean City paper delivered to my dorm room and reading about my father being named Ocean Cityís Sportsperson of the Decade. It gave me an opportunity to brag to people outside of Ocean City about how great my dad was!

After I graduated from college and started working, my dad asked me to help him out by coaching a grade school basketball team. I reluctantly agreed, but it was a great opportunity to see my dad in action again. As a young adult, watching him instruct the kids and doing what he loved, made me appreciate him in a different way.

Today, many people come up to me and tell me stories about my dad coaching them or helping them as a youth. I always get a kick out of people asking, ďhow is Mike (as the kids called him) and Mrs. Allegretto?Ē. I always tell them how much he loved coaching them. These days, itís fun having him help me coach my daughterís basketball team.

I feel so lucky to have had the best coach for so many different sports. My dad was (and still is) the kind of coach who took the time to help every player and to give them the confidence to excel in the sport they were playing, as well as in life. But most of all, I am especially lucky that I could also call this coach my dad.




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