Bob Kepner and Sal Rapaglia have been nominated for Life Membership in the U.S. Soccer Federation, which is the highest honor awarded by the National Council and given to individuals who have made significant contributions in promoting soccer in the United States.
Nominees must meet one of these five criteria: They need to have been a Federation officer, a member of the Board of Directors, served as an officer for at least 10 years with an Organization Member while providing extraordinary services to the Federation, been a U.S. Soccer staff member, or served on a committee for at least eight years.
After nominations are submitted to the Federation, the Board of directors can vote on as many as two individuals. At the next Annual General Meeting, a majority vote by the National Council is needed to bestow the honor.
Kepner served as the U.S. Soccer Chairman of Credentials Committee from 2011-19, and is still a member of the committee. But that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg for him.
He played midfield and served as co-captain for the University of North Carolina. He helped build the foundations of two state associations, serving as president of the North Carolina Amateur and Youth Soccer Associations. He is currently treasurer of both associations and also previously served on several North Carolina soccer committees. Kepner is a member of the North Carolina Soccer and U.S. Amateur Soccer Association Halls of Fame and has won USYSA Region III Director’s Award.
Kepner also played an important role in the formation of the youth and amateur State Cups. In fact, he is so revered in the state that the NCYSA named the President's Cup tournament the Kepner Cup, in his honor. He also has served as Chairman of the Kids Safe Program for US Youth Soccer.
Born in Sicily, Italy, Rapaglia emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 15. He played with the famed Brooklyn Italians (then known as Palermo SC), before moving up the ladder as a coach and then as President of the Italian-American Soccer League. He stepped down from that post in 1979 to become President of the Eastern New York State Soccer Association. Except for a two-year term as the ENYSSA General Secretary, Rapaglia has held that position for 44 years.
Under Rapaglia's direction, the state association developed Offerman Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. into the 10-field Verrazano Narrows Complex. With a new wave of immigrants entering the country in the 1980s and 1990s, Rapaglia and Eastern New York welcomed Hispanic and Latino teams and leagues to create a more diverse state association. Rapaglia and ENYSSA also expanded the number of women's leagues in its membership. He also found time to create and be commissioner of the Northeast Super Soccer League.
Rapaglia, who has served on several Federation committees, was honored with the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder's Award in 2006, the highest award that the Federation itself can bestow upon an individual. He is also a member of the Eastern New York Soccer Hall of Fame.