Legendary coach Jorge Severini leaves impressive legacy

To most people who knew Jorge Severini, he was a caring, passionate individual who was always willing to pass on his knowledge and passion about soccer to help one improve as an athlete and as a person. However, there was much to Severini than met the eye.

On Oct. 29, long-time Haverford High School head boys’ soccer coach and current Lower Merion assistant coach Jorge Severini suddenly passed away surrounded by immediate family members leaving the entire community with only memories about an individual who was always willing to put others first while sticking to his principles.

“My father has been involved with soccer development in the area because of his tremendous passion and love for the game and over the years became known and respected as one of the best clinicians/trainers in the country, said his son Nico Severini, head coach of the Lower Merion High School boys soccer team.

“Jorge was someone that I respected tremendously,’ said Conestoga boys’ soccer Dave Zimmerman. “In my early coaching years, Jorge was always kind to me, offering me advice and encouragement. Jorge was a man of principle who had the courage to stand up for what he believed in and I always admired him for that.’

Severini, 67, was born in Argentina where he excelled in soccer ascending to the professional ranks overseas playing for Club Atletico Liniers, Club Atletico Estudiantes, and Toros de Aragua (Venezuela) before coming to the Philadelphia area in 1971 where he continued his professional soccer career.

In the United States, Severini played for the Philadelphia Atoms, the Philadelphia Spartans, the Ukrainian Nationals, the Hungarian Americans and the Delaware Wings where he received many All-Star and leading scorer honors.

While he was overseas Severini also played professional basketball thus making history becoming the only athlete from his city, Bahia Blanca to be first team All-state in both sports.

With a deep-rooted passion for basketball, Severini developed a friendship with legendary Temple University men’s basketball coach John Chaney. Through their friendship, Severini introduced Chaney to basketball in Argentina and helped Chaney bring Pepe Sanchez to North Broad Street.

With his illustrious playing career in soccer winding down, Severini moved into coaching by serving as a player/coach in 1980 for Hungarian SC. The slow transition served as a launching pad for what would become a legendary career. Severini was actively involved with all levels of coaching teams at the youth, high school, State ODP, League Select, Premier Club, Men’s Senior and College level.

Although Severini coached at many different levels he made his mark at high school level, most notably at Haverford High School. In 22 years as the head coach, Severini posted a 233-115-7 record that included a Central League title (1994) and 11 PIAA District One Class AAA playoff appearances.

Dr. William Keilbaugh, Superintendent of Schools at the School District of Haverford Township, said, “Jorge Severini was a consummate gentleman. The District joins the community in mourning his death and we are grateful for his loyalty to our program, our community and his commitment to the sport.’

In 2011, Severini joined his son Nico at Lower Merion as an assistant coach. While at LM, Severini worked with the goalkeepers and helped guide the Aces to a Central League crown in 2013.

Nico Severini said, “It was always truly an honor to coach with my father. He was my hero, an inspiration and my best friend. There wasn’t a training session or game coached, where I didn’t look for his opinion and guidance. Everyday we discussed soccer, its intricacies, and its beauty. Soccer brought us together and was the glue of our family. We ate, drank, and lived soccer every single day.’

Lower Merion senior goalie and captain Will Rosenbaum said, “Jorge was an integral part of our success the past four years. He instilled confidence in moments when it was otherwise very hard to find. When he saw that we were frustrated, he would pull us aside and provide the reassurance necessary to allow us to succeed. He always knew how to inspire me and my teammates to make key plays.

“The most important thing that Jorge did for me and my teammates, however, was teach us how to play with class. In all of our high points over the years, he reminded us to remain humble because at any given moment we could be on the losing side. Undoubtedly, this is the most important lesson that I’ve learned in my soccer career and in life. I am extremely grateful to have joined the thousands of players who have called Jorge my coach, but I am even more thankful to have called him my friend.’

Lower Merion assistant principal Jon Fadely, who coached the Aces’ boys soccer team from 2002-2009, compiling a 105-36-12 record, said, “I remember when I started [coaching] here in Pennsylvania 17 years ago, watching him coach – he got the most out of his players and would make every match a true competition. He would adapt to the conditions, have a game plan to face his opponents, manage the clock just about as well as any coach out there, and at times manage the officials of the match too!

“Before I knew it, he was coaching one of my sons and inviting him to his camp. So I saw him in quite a bit of different environments. He had tremendous passion for the game, and win or lose, was gracious to other coaches when the dust finally settled. He was a gentleman and had an impact on soccer in our area and more importantly had a positive impact on many young men. He was an outstanding father and is part of a great family – I am fortunate to now work alongside of his oldest son Nico at Lower Merion High School. He has been an asset to our school, in and out of the building!’

Jorge Severini wanted to cultivate a relationship with Haverford Township, and got together with Brian Barrett, Director of Recreation with Haverford Township, and created World Class Soccer School to generate interest and foster a program in a sport that afforded Severini many opportunities domestically and internationally.

Thanks to his timeless efforts and dedication, World Class Soccer School celebrated its 25th anniversary this past summer.

In a Main Line Media News article published in last May, Jorge Severini said, “When I started this program I always believed I would be here a long time. “However, you never know what happens. I realize this would not have been possible without the support many people including then Haverford Township School District Superintendent Ed Kalmbach and Brian Barrett and Tim Denny (Directors of Parks and Recreation for Haverford Township).’

Haverford Township Director of Recreation Brian Barrett said, “Jorge was an icon in Haverford Township and any soccer player in Haverford Township would at some point have had an interaction with him. Jorge not only coached at the High school and the Recreation Dept. but he also ran training for the Haverford Soccer club. Jorge’s camp was the first summer sports camp run by the Recreation Department and Jorge has coached thousands of Township players over the years. He has coached for so long his former high school players and campers now have had their children coached by Jorge. His passion for the game was evident and he passed this onto everyone he came in contact with. He will be greatly missed.’

In honor of Severini, several of Jorge’s former players started a fund which will go to soccer scholarships and philanthropy – for more information, visit www.youcaring.com/jorgefamilyfund

Viewing for Jorge Severini will be held Wednesday Nov. 5 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Stretch Funeral Home, 236 East Eagle Road, Havertown, PA 19083 (phone 610-446-1075).

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