JHS Hall of Fame : William D. Gelsomino football 1972 and Amanda M. Gelsomino soccer 2003
October 12, 2011
By JOE RUSSO
When Amanda Gelsomino entered middle school, teachers and coaches would always ask her the same question: Are you Billy Gelsomino's kid? The answer, of course, was yes, and they would begin a long speech on how a great athlete her father was; she soon realized herself that he was an unbelievable athlete.
Bill and Amanada Gelsomino have the distinction of being the only father/daughter combination to be inducted into the Johnston High School Hall of Fame and their love for sports, family and life in general is unprecedented.
Bill Gelsomino was the first football player from JHS to be selected first team All-State. From the runningback position in his senior year he led the entire state of Rhode Island in scoring.
"I carried the ball a lot and when you are running scared you tend to score a lot of touchdowns," he said.
He credited two coaches that helped turn the Johnston football program around: Head Coach Ed Fracasa and Assistant Coach Joe Mancini.
Gelsomino stated, "I was fortunate to be part of the first Johnston team to win a game in three years during my sophomore year. Two good coaches came in [Fracasa and Mancini] and they were beneficial to the Johnston football program and I was fortunate that they came in when I played – it was an enjoyable time."
Bill said his father Lou played a big part in his sports career and he remembered that his father never forced him to do anything with sports, but he simply suggested and encouraged that he go out for a sport.
"I was happy when I joined the JHS football team in my freshman year and I made a lot of friends – athletics were a big part of my life," Bill recalled. "You play sports because you want to be part of a team; you make friends and succeed and individual accomplishments are nice, but that's not why you play sports."
Bill's football career continued after he graduated from JHS. He attended UMass for one year then transferred to Division 2 Central Connecticut College, where he majored in business administration. In his junior season, he received All-American honorable mention in small division football and in his senior year he was voted MVP of his team.
Bill's daughter Amanda also had a spectacular athletic career at JHS and she is perhaps considered the greatest soccer player – male or female – to play for the school. She scored an amazing 113 goals in her four years: the most in JHS history. She was also all division in softball and served as her class president all four years. Tearing her ACL in the playoffs was a major setback for Amanda. The Lady Panthers, without their star player and inspiration, would be eliminated in the post-season.
Amanda spoke to me via e-mail from Hawaii, where she now resides saying, "I was born into a very athletic football family, so it was natural that I would be a football player, too. But my father wouldn't let me play pee-wee football because he was afraid I would get hurt, so I ended up following in my brother's footsteps and played soccer, which I started at 4 years old. I wanted to be just like my brother and the only reason I believe my soccer career was successful is because I grew up playing with and against him."
She went on to say how big an influence her father played in her life.
"Sports have shaped the relationship I share with my father and to this day he is still an incredible athlete," Amanda said. "My most favorite memories with him involve him playing goalie for me and my brother, practicing catching fly balls, building me sports equipment to train in during the off-season, going to Giants games together, seeing him in the stands at my games and encouraging me to return to college soccer after I had ACL surgery in my knee, after I had lost all my confidence."
After Amanda graduated from JHS in 2003, she attended the University of Tampa for one year and would later transfer to the University of New England–Maine in the fall of 2004. She resumed her soccer career, scoring nine goals and six assists as she made all-division in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
The following year she would transfer schools again, this time to Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C . It was here that Amanda would excel in athletics and academics. She was the captain of the soccer team in 2007 and received honorable mention for the Adidas Women's Collegiate Scholar All-South region team, as well as being named Big South player of the week for Oct. 9, 2007.
She majored in health promotion with a 3.71 GPA and was part of the Big South Scholar All-South region team and was also a member of ESPN: The Magazine's academic all district 2 second team. Upon graduating college, Amanda went to graduate school at the University of Saint Augustine (Florida). She graduated this past spring with a 3.97 GPA with a doctor of physical therapy and is currently employed as a physical therapist in Hawaii.
Amanda said that she got her strong work ethic from her father and they would train together during the off-season but, more importantly, she claims the greatest quality she inherited from her father was his heart and desire to succeed. She also wanted to acknowledge her grandfather, Lou Gelsomino.
"He was easily my most devoted and supportive fan. I was so grateful he was able to make it to some of the games that were close to Rhode Island during my college career and he came to every game I played throughout my middle and high school career – it truly meant the world to me that he was there to experience every second with me and I told him that my 100th goal at JHS was dedicated to him."
The Gelsominos are indeed a unique family because not only are they JHS hall of famers, they are what a family are all about: showing how hard work in both sports and academics are important but mostly how love and respect for each other supercedes everything in life.