KAHULUI - Many of the youngsters he was directing at Maui Waena Intermediate School probably didn't know it - none of them were born at the time - but Paul Caligiuri produced two of the most significant goals in U.S. soccer history.
Caligiuri scored in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago that clinched a spot in the 1990 World Cup tournament, and then tallied America's first World Cup goal in 40 years in a 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia.
On Tuesday, Caligiuri was guiding more than 100 Maui youths at the Team Soccer Direct Camp.
Former U.S. World Cup team member Paul Caligiuri talks with Hailee Sanchez during a drill in Tuesday’s session of the Team Soccer Direct Camp at Maui Waena Intermediate School. The three-day camp concludes today.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
"It is like anything when you come to do something to make a difference and you help kids, particularly, to reach their goals," said Caligiuri, who made 110 appearances for the national team from 1984 to 1997. "One way to do it is to build their skill levels and then give them goals and incentives to achieve those, but it is never enough. As an educator, people tell you all the time that there is so much more to do. I wish I could stay longer (so) I could have a bigger impact.
"Maui has been good to me. This is the second time I have had the chance to come and do a soccer camp - one up in Makawao and now, of course, this one. Each time, I see a lot of talent. By the time I leave, I wish I could do more, stay longer."
The camp was organized by Excel Soccer Club coach Dion Ruidas. Caligiuri was joined by UC Irvine coach George Kuntz and Hawaii-Hilo coach Ziggy Korytoski.
"The whole idea of this camp was part of the movement in the past 10 years where a lot of these kids want to get more exposure with college coaches," Ruidas said. "They all have to spend hundreds of dollars to go to the Mainland to camps and tournaments. We've created this opportunity by bringing the coaches here."
Kekoa Mountcastle, a former Kamehameha Schools Maui standout going into his senior year at Whitworth University, is working as a counselor at the camp.
"I can't even explain how satisfying it is for me," Mountcastle said. "I have been up there for three years now, it is cold weather, brutal soccer environment, but to come home and pass my knowledge on to the younger kids, for them to be able to see into the college knowledge. . . . I feel like in this day and age, the future needs to see it, especially from Maui, coming from a smaller island. When I was younger, I just wish I had this, that is for sure."
Mountcastle is fully aware of Caligiuri and the impact he had on U.S. soccer.
"He is a legend, he is a legend amongst the entire nation," Mountcastle said. "He has got a big resume, that is for sure. For him to come all the way to Maui, that is just icing on the cake. Working with him is professional, that is for sure. In the world of soccer, he's a god. He's a soccer god."
The three-day camp, for youths 6-18, ends today.
"Some of the counselors here have gone off to college and they are coming back, giving back to the community, which is phenomenal," Caligiuri said. "It is quite interesting to see the total development."
Caligiuri, 48, remembers hanging around elite team practices in Southern California as a youngster, waiting for a chance to play when the sport was struggling for a stronger foothold in the U.S.
He spent six months in Germany, including his 15th birthday, as he developed his game. After two All-American seasons and an NCAA title at UCLA, he played for nine professional teams - four in Europe - ending his career in 2001 after five seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"These kids really want to play the game and learn," Caligiuri said. "It is really just a matter of getting their technical ability and skill levels to where they can have these ideas to create on the field. That takes time, it is not a matter of just a few days. Hopefully we do enough to give them the structure, the foundation that they need."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com