Stephen Hamilton has spent more than a decade trying to negotiate soccer deals, from his time as AEG's director of team services, where he played a key role in developing relationships with renowned international clubs such as Real Madrid, Chelsea FC and Club América of Mexico and to promoting the teams' exhibition matches in the United States to his current role as vice president of soccer operations for Chivas USA.
Sometimes those calls are unsuccessful, but when it comes to asking for donations for a silent auction as part of the Doug Hamilton Classic that honors his brother, Stephen said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"It's not a hard sale by any means," Hamilton said. "People still remember Doug, many having worked with him, and they have been very generous."
The third annual Doug Hamilton Memorial Soccer Classic will be played at Raritan High School in Hamilton's hometown of Hazlet, N.J. on Saturday. On March 9, 2006, Hamilton died of heart complications on a flight home from Costa Rica. The Los Angeles Galaxy president and general manager was just 43.
Big East rivals Rutgers and Georgetown will meet in a friendly match at 7 p.m. and both teams will participate in a youth soccer clinic for children 14 and under on the athletic fields at Raritan HS beginning at 4 p.m. Mini youth matches featuring teams from the Hazlet Youth Soccer Association will start at 5:30 p.m.
"We're bringing people together via soccer, which is something that meant so much to him," Hamilton said. "The clinic should provide some inspiration and help some kids fall in love with soccer. To do it in Hazlet is also very important."
The first two annual events have raised more than $18,000 for Hamilton's son, Aedan, who is now 8 years old and will join Stephen and other members of the Hamilton family at the event.
"Doug was a dear friend, a great guy and a wonderful professional and he was taken from us too soon," Rutgers coach Bob Reasso said. "It's an honor and privilege for us to stage this game in his name every year. I want to thank Brian Wiese [Georgetown head coach] and the guys at Georgetown for coming up and playing us for this game."
Hamilton was a stellar player at Raritan High and went on to play for Mike Berticelli at UNC-Greensboro, winning three Division III national championships. It was actually Hamilton who called Reasso to tell him that Berticelli died of a heart attack in January 2000 at the age of 48.
After a decorated collegiate career, Hamilton coached at Greensboro College for three years, leading the team to the Division III title game in 1989. He was inducted into the Greensboro College Hall of Fame in 2007. Hamilton was then an assistant coach at Duke University and the Blue Devils reached the College Cup semifinals in 1992.
From there Hamilton worked for adidas before joining the Miami Fusion, where attendance was up 49 percent in the two years he was the executive vice president there. In his five years in Los Angeles, the Galaxy never missed the playoffs and won a pair of MLS Cup titles. Hamilton was named the MLS Executive of the Year three times and the award is now in his name.
"I'm very fortunate that there are a lot of great people involved in the event, including Bob Reasso and some friends from the Hazlet United soccer club," Hamilton said. "One of my best friends, Adam Bellincampi, has also been instrumental in organizing."
Last year, the threat of inclement weather resulted in a crowd about half the size of the inaugural event. However, the forecast for Saturday is sublime, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s.
Those who are able to make it to Raritan H.S. will not only get to see a quality soccer game, but can also bid on some wonderful collectibles from every MLS squad, as well as a number of WPS teams and a signed Arsenal FC jersey courtesy of former MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis, who is the chief executive of the famed English Premier League squad.
"It's selfish from my standpoint, but I love this event because it's an opportunity for me to see some old friends and to keep Doug's legacy alive," Hamilton said. "He meant so much to me and to so many others to whom he was a friend, a teammate, a coach, a mentor or a boss in a number of different places. He was a special guy and it's great that a lot of people recognize that."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com.