By Kim J. Harmon
Down 2-0 in the second half of its CIAC Class LL state tournament game with Guilford, the Newtown High School boys’ soccer team was facing as much adversity as it had faced during the entire 2001 season.
Al Taubert was on the sidelines for that game and he could certainly relate â€“ for the longtime coach was battling a recurrence of cancer and facing as much adversity as anyone possibly could.
Mr Taubert died last Thursday at the age of 71.
He will be sorely missed.
“Al continued to coach both at the youth level and as an assistant at the high school,” said former Newtown Soccer Club president, Pat Barczak. “This is all the more amazing since he was battling a second bout with cancer in the past four years.”
Mr Taubert leaves a lasting legacy, however. He not only founded the Newtown Soccer Club, he developed it into what it is today â€“ a program recognized as one of the strongest in the state. As Mr Barczak indicated, Mr Taubert was the one who insisted â€“ about 10 years ago â€“ that the Club begin to use individual professional trainers for the travel teams and, at the same time, began running more formalized training clinics for the in-house teams.
That is one of the reasons why the Newtown Soccer Club enjoys so much success each and every season and one of the reasons why the Newtown High School programs remain, year after year, among the strongest in the state.
“Al kept his sense of humor and love of the game all through these ordeals and inspired many of even more as a result,” said Mr Barczak.
The following is an excerpt of the feature story written on Mr Taubert for his induction into the Newtown Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 . . .
Al Taubert grew up in a soccer household in Portchester, New York. It became a part of his life. And because it did, it also became a part of the lives of thousands of Newtown kids for the past quarter of a century.
Mr Taubert moved to Newtown from New York in 1966. A pilot with Pan Am, he played soccer with a Pan Am international team before joining a group of Newtown players on a Wilton team in the Connecticut State Soccer Association (CSSA). Soon after, he was talking into coaching kids in Ridgefield in 1970 and with the need for more teams arising, he got involved in the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association (CJSA).
It seemed to take off from there.
Other parents jumped on board and the program â€“ the Newtown Soccer Club â€“ eventually evolved into what it is today. More than 1,000 kids a season played on in-town and travel teams in the fall, winter and spring, with several of the travel teams distinguishing themselves every season in State Cup competition.
The NSC also hosts its own Memorial Day Kick-Off Tournament, which features more than 100 teams every year.
It seems that when Al Taubert isn’t playing soccer (he is playing with the Newtown Salty Dogs and is one of only four or five men in their 60s playing in the over-40 league), he is coaching soccer.
Now 68, Mr Tauibert has coached almost continuously in the NSC â€“ one team or another â€“ since the 1970s and has also coached at Western Connecticut State University, Fairfield University, and Newtown High School. He has worked in a number of touring soccer camps and has been affiliated with the David Gaetano Camp for several years.
Right now, he is in charge of training coaches, setting up clinics and classes for the NSC.
His education as a soccer coach came largely from time spent overseas with the military and as a Pan Am pilot. He had the opportunity to spend a lot of time seeing soccer on a national level, seeing how other countries approach the game.
Being a founder of Newtown soccer and seeing what the game has done for thousands of young players in this town, Al Taubert is a very worthy inductee into the Newtown Sports Hall of Fame.