Players rally around terminally ill soccer coach



Posted on October 10, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 11 at 7:22 AM

WOODINVILLE, Wash. - A soccer field is like the Barone family's second home. They're always there:  either on the field refereeing or playing, or on the sidelines cheering or coaching.

Giovanni Barone, known as "Coach Gio," has invested thousands of hours of his life in the game and in the players.

"Its the passion of my life. Of course, my wife, my kids, my family and soccer. Those are the things that I cannot live without," said Barone.   For years, he has coached two soccer teams. Until recently.

"My husband Giovanni has a ...brain cancer tumor," said Dorothy Barone. "The outlook is not good.... its completely shattered our family... just everything is just shattered.  Our future is uncertain."

Now, during the coach's time of crisis, the players and their families of the Northshore Youth Soccer Association are investing back in Coach Gio.

"We're raising money for Giovanni because he has brain cancer," said a Northshore player showing bracelets he bought imprinted with "Team Gio."

Other players are selling pizzas, donuts and coffee.  One points to his t-shirt that says "Team Gio."  A lot of money changed hands at a fundraising tournament Sunday in Coach Gio's honor, organized by a fellow coach.

"He's a husband, father of three sons, coaches two teams, holds down two jobs, provides for his family. I just felt compelled to do something," said tournament organizer Trent Schultz.

The money helps, but it's the love and support that's critical.

"It just makes my chest feel like exploding.  It makes my whole day, its beautiful," said Coach Gio.

The Barone family may not have much time left together, but this weekend they looked past the diagnosis and refocused on what matters most to them -  their love for each other, the players and the game.