NPSL Manager of Membership Development and Administration Dina Case recently joined an elite group, having been inducted into the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame on March 4th. She earned this honor through a life dedicated to the beautiful game, winning two national championships with the Long Island Rough Riders and spending 25 years as a coach.
Those that know Case realize that this was a well-deserved honor, even though she is incredibly humble and gracious when talking about the award.
“It is a great honor to be recognized in such a fashion and to be put in the same company with such well accomplished players. Long Island has a rich history of producing talented players, so to be selected among Long Island’s best is humbling. Being recognized and honored in this way is without a doubt something special, but my being included in this year’s class will hold greater meaning for me for two reasons. One, I am being inducted on a night when my former team, the Long Island Lady Riders, is being honored for winning two national championships. And second, I am being inducted with an all-female class; women who I have great respect for as players and as friends. I could not be more honored.”
Caitlin Connolly, Kim Conway, Laura Martin, Tracy Sofsian, Gina Tucker, and Christie Welsh joined Case in the Class of 2017. This was an incredible group, a group that paved the way for others and achieved unparalleled success.
Case spent eight seasons with the Lady Riders, joining the team for their inaugural season in 1994. She took a leave from playing on the team in 2000 to have her first child. She would still help run strength and conditioning in 2000 before returning to play in 2001 for another two seasons. Case retired from the team in 2002 with 102 games played, placing her third in all-time games played. She was a captain for four of her eight seasons with the Lady Riders, a sign of her ability as a true leader.
She started her career at midfield and quickly became a fixture in the defense, leading the team to two national championships in 1995 and 1997 and a 2-0 win against the Brazilian Women’s National Team, who went on to place third in the Women’s World Cup in 1999. Case was named to the Championship Series All-Tournament Team in 1997.
“The Lady Riders were a special group of women who were for the most part homegrown,” Case added. “A very determined, supportive, hard-working and persevering group of individuals with a lot of talent and intensity for the game. Both championships were special but the '97 championship was even more so. We had to overcome a lot of adversity to win that game. We had several key players missing for the championships, due to various reasons like injuries and national team commitments. We won in a shootout. As I said, it was because of the depth that the team had and because of the players' character. A group of hard-working individuals who loved the game and gave everything they had to win.”
Case pointed out that this was the highest level one could play at that time aside from the national team. Most of the players worked full-time and then came to practice three nights a week and then played on weekends. As you can see, it was an enormous commitment.
“Winning two national championships at that level was extremely rewarding after giving blood, sweat, and tears to the sport for so many years; without a doubt major highlight to my career,” Case continued. “My overall experiences and where the sport has lead me is what is most rewarding. The women who I had the opportunity to play with, the organizations I have been able to represent, being a pioneer for the sport, and being a role model for young girls are what I think of most when I look back on my career. The overall experiences and the opportunities I've been given because of the sport trump any championship.”
Case played collegiate soccer at Cornell University where she was a four-year All-Ivy Selection and was named to the NCAA Northeast All-American Team her senior year. She helped lead Cornell to an Ivy League Championship in 1991, which happened to be her senior year. This was an amazing accomplishment since Cornell has won only two such titles in the school’s long and storied history.
Over the years she gained a reputation as an extremely consistent, hard-working, and "lead by example" type of player.
She got her start with the Rockville Centre Soccer Club. She participated in the Olympic Development Program (ODP) and was selected to the Region 1 Regional Camp. She attended South Side High School and was a senior when South Side won its first of 17 state championships in 1987, also during her senior year. She was an All-State selection her junior year, the first such time New York State ever made All-State selections, and was an All-State selection again in her senior year. She was also inducted into South Side High School’s Athlete Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1994.
Case is indeed a pioneer of women’s soccer and a role model for young women everywhere, but she is also involved in the NPSL as the league's Manager of Membership Development and Administration. She now has the opportunity to make a massive difference in the men’s game, growing the sport yet again. But that is no surprise as Case has done that her whole life, giving back to the game that has given her so much. That is the definition of a true pioneer of sport.
Photo Credit: Michael Anderer