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Noel Cup Jamboree this Saturday

August 25, 2011

WOONSOCKET — For the past few decades, Noel Wolny contributed countless hours to youth soccer in the Blackstone Valley region.
Besides coaching his passion at four different colleges and universities, Wolny offered his expertise at the high school level at North Smithfield, Blackstone Millville Regional, North Providence and most recently Mount St. Charles Academy.
Perhaps his biggest contribution to the sport was the Cracovia Soccer Club, a Woonsocket-based league he formed 31 years ago that has attracted hundreds of city youths.
After a brief sickness, Wolny passed away on March 2 at the age of 73. On Saturday, his family and friends will honor one of the state’s biggest advocates of soccer with the inaugural MSC Noel Cup Jamboree.
“Honestly, it’s going to be a heartbreaker,” said his wife, Halina Wolny, who along with her late husband and oldest son Marek immigrated to Woonsocket 47 years ago. “[The soccer field] is one of the few places I haven’t been able to go to since his passing, but I think I can go to it this time. I am very happy about this tournament. There have been a lot of good memories.”
“This jamboree is so important to me because my father devoted so much of his time to teaching kids how to play the game,” added Marek, the current varsity girls’ coach at Mount. Noel headed the JV program for the past few years. “{He] devoted time to the city and his parish. he had a passion for the game like no one else I have ever met.”
The daylong junior varsity tourney includes teams from Bellingham, Lincoln, Burrillville and Mount St. Charles and will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mounties’ upper and lower fields.
The event is similar to the one that honored the late Wolny in his homeland of Grysrw sl, Poland in July that was conducted by a semi-professional team called GRYF that he once played for in his younger years.
Due to travel expenses, the Marek family wasn’t able to attend that tourney a few months ago. They decided the next best thing would be to form one of their own at MSC.
Halina Wolny approached Mount athletic director Richard Lawrence with the idea of the tournament and Lawrence didn’t hesitate to make it a reality.
“I figured what else can we do?” she said. “I talked with Mr. Lawrence and he was very nice about letting us do it.”
Six teams will participate in the tournament with Bellingham and Mount each fielding two squads. The overall champion will receive the Noel Cup, a large trophy that the winner will be able to display at their school for a year. The traveling trophy will be replaced with a smaller replica to keep for good the following year with each year’s winner earning the "original" Cup.
Noel Wolny final season of coaching at Mount was a special one. He was not only able to continue to teach a sport he loved so much, but was also able to do it surrounded by his family.
His wife served as the general manager, his oldest son coached the varsity program and his daughter-in-law Michele was the junior high coach.
“It was always important for him to end his coaching career with his family around him,” Marek said. “I always wanted to make sure that he will be remembered so this will be an ongoing Cup from year to year.”

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