Read about the history of Joe Palumbo below on our brand new timeline we have created to tell the story.
Since 1983, Joe Palumbo has contributed to this area's development of quality soccer players in a big way! Through his dedication to the sport of soccer and commitment to teaching kids, he was able to serve over 1,000 children at his summer camps at Club Fit Health Club in Jefferson Valley in the early 80's. Local schools such as Lakeland, Yorktown, Walter Panas, Mahopac, and Somers reaped the benefits of Joe's soccer programs at Club Fit. Soon, communities in lower Westchester and Dutchess counties flocked to join the previously well-kept secret of the kids' success. As a result, some of Joe's initial prospects have gone on to become professional players in the MLS. Among them are Jeff Matteo, Craig Capano, and Edson Buddle. Joe's ever-growing membership became too big for Club Fit to house. He realized that soccer for the kids was not going to be fulfilled at a health club, and so he began to search for an area that would fulfill his dream of creating a true Soccer Academy.
In 1997, after a lot of perseverance and continuing support, the dream became a reality at the Joe Palumbo Soccer Academy in Putnam Valley, NY. Here, he has been able to develop a school that would further foster the development of young aspiring soccer players and most important, model citizens.
"What it takes to teach children this game is a young man or woman who is passionate about the game and translates and displays my motto (Skill, Sportsmanship, and Self-Discipline) to young children who are eager to display their ability on the playing field as well as the bigger field called life." - Joe Palumbo
Joe Palumbo at Keene State College
After graduating from Peekskill High School in 1973 and being inducted in the Hall of Fame for soccer, Joe went on to play soccer at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1977.
"In this country, college is the ticket and every one wants to go to college and get a good job and good education. College is the American way. I dreamed of playing in college and getting an education at the same time. Soccer was my passion. My original dream was to become a professional for my country. Coming to this country from Italy was a beautiful thing. I had to learn a new culture and I took the same values with me to always work hard if you want to become a professional player, a tailor, a carpenter or if you want to run a farm. Today, JPSA is my farm. Keene State College was me embracing the American dream. My dream, soccer, family, hard work, a future; everything that’s promised in this country if you work hard to achieve your goals. Keene State College was my pilot. I've taken the values that I learned from my parents with me. Through your path you meet many people, make sure you always listen and value experiences and lessons that you get from teachers, adults, people that have more experience than you do in any area of life. At Keene, that was my number one goal. Soccer was natural. I was fortunate to have been given a talent to play the game and also, to respect the game. That’s why I am where I am today. I not only love this game, I respect the game."
There were many influential people that Joe had met throughout his career at KSC.
"My coach, Dr. Ron Butcher in the beginning was the one who recruited and believed in me and guided me into a path of playing soccer at the collegiate level. The Keene Men’s soccer team at that time was a top level team and was nationally ranked. I also learned many lessons from a player, Mickey Rooney. As a player, I got my best advice from Mickey Rooney and Klaus Weber. The biggest focus that got me into education and made me believe that I could be one of the best teachers was Dr. George Henry. Dr. Henry was my supervisor for my student teaching. He told me that I was more fit for elementary education and made me believe in the ability I had to put a smile on kid’s faces."
"I had more common sense than knowledge and that came from my dad and the lessons and values I learned from him on becoming a man. As a student, I was not gifted and I needed to work hard. One- because I came to this country and could not speak English. It was hard learning and understanding the language when I came here at 13 years old. As far as education, I worked very hard to make the grade. I didn’t make excuses; I didn't choose if education or soccer was more important, it was just a matter of balancing the two. I graduated with a 3.5 in college and I earned my degree. I was proud."
Joe Palumbo as a player
After college, Joe Palumbo went on to play professionally for the New England Tea Men.
"At that time, I had a lot of things on my plate. I got called for a tryout for New England Tea Men and got an opportunity to experience what professional soccer was in this country. It was the North American Soccer League (NASL) which was a brand new league. The greatest thing about that experience was getting to meet and be surrounded by the greatest players in the world like Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer, Pele.. This was a dream.
Personally, I always wanted to play as a professional in Italy where I grew up and where my roots were. Playing professionally here was also something that I craved. I wasn’t really going to try out unless I had Trevor Franklin, who was a teammate and friend who pushed me to try out for the New England Tea Men. Trevor had a great professional career and was a very successful player. I still remember that day. There was about 120 people trying out. For them to spot me out of everyone was a wonderful feeling.
The atmosphere around soccer at this time was like anything else in this country. It was a big deal or fad. The buzz was that the world players of the game were coming HERE to us! These were some of the greatest players in the world. To me, it was more like a show and I had the best seat in the house. There’s 66,000 people in the stands and it’s a wonderful experience to even be there honoring and being surrounded by the world’s players and I was really happy with that."
Joe Palumbo as an educator
Joe's start in his education career!
"A professional career was not in the cards for me so I took value in accepting a position at the George B White School where I taught 6 classes a day in physical education from Kindergarten to 8th grade. It was a small town; Deerfield, New Hampshire. They valued school so much. For them to come to school and physical education was a release from the daily chores at home. They couldn’t wait to come to school.
This was the most rewarding experience in my career as a teacher. It was education as it was meant to be. As a teacher there, I was given the freedom to be innovative and truly give my students an appreciation for sport and exercise.
The program allowed me to do what I do best, which was making kids happy, teach them about the values about hard work. More particularly for physical education, I taught them how to take care of their bodies and to be fit, focused and firm on their goals. The kids were easy to get messages across to because they had values at home that family came first and school was a privilege for them.
Joe's passion for teaching students:
"Well, I developed a passion for teaching when I was a freshman in college. I had until sophomore year to make a decision on what my major would be. As a soccer player at Keene, we had a clinic that we had to do at an elementary school in Nashwood, NH. Coach Butcher sent me, Mickey Rooney, Graham Jones and Mark McAvoy. We announced to the kids that we have 4 stars from KSC coming here. The excitement when they introduced us to the players was unreal! I just fell in love with the attention that these kids gave to detail. It made me feel good. All I did was show them all my skills and how I played soccer and answered questions of how I got there. That moment was the initial desire I had to teach. I volunteered to do all the clinics. I took all the necessary courses to become a physical education teacher. From then on, I loved it more and more each time. Dr. George Henry was my principles in philosophy and education professor and he’s really the one that propelled me into teaching and did a lot for me.
Most importantly, anything that we do, we do it ourselves. All of these people give advice and give value. You have to listen to the advice and then your heart and your mind tells you what you want to do. That’s what got me to where I am."
Joe Palumbo's favorite part of teaching as a career:
"What I like about teaching is the reception that you get from the kids. Their attention span. I don’t know what it is, I had this type of a feeling. Every time I stepped into the room to teach kids, my energy elevated seeing these kids happy and in an environment where they’re challenged. The other thing that I’ve always had that comes from me and family and my values is that kids warm up to me. With that kind of warmth, children know that you can give them something to dream about, something to get better at, and something to aspire to be."
Joe Palumbo at Club Fit
"My reasons for coming back to NY was multi-fold; several injuries in my playing career, and missing my family to mention a few. As rewarding as GBW school in New Hampshire was, I could not build a future on a salary of $7600 per year.
Back in NY in 1980, I substituted as a teacher in various schools in the area while also serving as a coach for their soccer teams. As these were not permanent positions, and schools in NY were more bureaucratic than the freedom I enjoyed in New Hampshire. My teaching style was compromised to follow a curriculum set by the institution which I was not used to. Being the “spontaneous, knowledgeable teacher who is a magnet to children”, words of my supervising advisor at Keene State College Dr. George Henry. Whom I owe everything I know about teaching to this day.
So the rebel that I am, I decided to answer an ad in the paper for a local racquet and fitness club JVRC; eventually Club Fit. I was hired as the racquetball pro and gave lessons in a sport that I was familiar with, but never was a pro at. At Jefferson Valley Racquet and Fitness Club Beth Beck gave me the freedom to create new experiences for our members. Soccer being my forte prompted me to fulfill my dream of teaching “my way".
For 20 years, Club Fit became my second home, and the home of thousands of families. Joe Palumbo Soccer Skills Camps became synonymous with Club Fit. I had been given the freedom to do what I love; to teach the sport I was really a pro at with knowledge motivated by a heart that appreciates everyone the good Lord puts in your path. Thank you George Henry, Beth Beck, Keene State College, Club Fit, to mention a few, for helping me to hone my craft.
When you have a passion for something and love of family, it is easy to share the goodness with others. Especially children who love soccer."
Joe Palumbo as a Business Owner
"In the summer of 1999, we opened our doors to the Joe Palumbo Soccer Skills Camp.
There are two simple ingredients in the way I live my life:
- Love of a wife & family
- Love of Soccer
These two loves propelled me into creating a business that would serve those that believe in these two simple
ingredients and whose families, which were many, respect me for my creed!
When you are successful at what you do because of your love for your craft, there will always be adversity! Mainly prompted by jealousy and someone who believes they can do as well a job or better. This is life and society today. When those people focus on the business end of it, sincerity is compromised. My honesty has kept me focused on my love first and business inevitably grows.
The support of my wife and the involvement of my kids to grow in soccer and in life is my biggest inspiration and support in all of this. They are what make it all worthwhile. I created a healthy environment for my own kids and everyone else's kids benefited from it."
Joe Palumbo as a father and husband
How Joe's family impacted him:
"My family has impacted where I am in the business and in life immensely. My wife's support and sacrifice to honor my will and treat this quest as the work of a true team is what has always propelled me forward. I now have the faith that my children will continue this quest long after I am gone.
Joe's relationship with his son, James:
"A father and son's relationship is a very special bond in my opinion. A bond where I, as James' father share the same mind, body and soul. Every father aspires for their only son to become better and accomplish more then oneself, I believe. In our case, I have given James the green light, starting at an early age to make his own path in life but always keep my two loves of life in his journey first.
James' passion in what I built my life on, is relentless. At a time when I dismantled the club aspect of the business and tried to focus on the academy, he revived JPSC into one of the best travel & premier clubs in our area, equally enhancing and growing camps, academy training, and International tours to mention a few. So driven is an understatement. As long as God gives me the strength, I will continue to support him in his outlook for the future of JPSA. I am proud of my son for guiding his own path and building on the legacy I have created."
Joe's thoughts on the future:
"At Keene State College and Stony Brook respectively I earned a degree in Education and James in Business. I feel that my background in education has been infused in him, so the future looks very bright for James to share his love of soccer with the next generation and building a business that will be second to none."