For Dimitrios "Jim" Tsatsis, the life-long love affair with soccer began in a small Greek village in the 1930s. Like so many epic love stories, his tale of loyalty and passion has crossed oceans and ages, and led to a lasting legacy on future generations.
Jim grew up in the mountains on the Albanian border, where he and his friends often had to walk up to two miles just to find a patch of grass flat enough to play on. In the 1950s, Jim immigrated to the United States and joined the U.S. Army. There, in addition to gaining citizenship, Jim earned a roster spot on his regiment's soccer team, outplaying 150 fellow service-men at tryouts.
“He said some of his best memories are when he played soccer for the United States Army Team,” said Jim's daughter Mary Ann, who grew up hearing about the sport and his experiences. “He had such a great time doing that and made some great friends.”
Today, Jim and his wife, Fotini, live in the Chicagoland area with an extended network of children and grandchildren. At 85 years, Jim is an active follower of U.S. National Teams, including Senior Men's and Women's and Youth.
“Jim came from a pretty humble background in Greece,” said Mary Ann's husband, Mark. “He made his way to this country and worked for everything he had. He put his kids through college, ran his own business… It’s a great American success story.”
In summer 2016, to honor Jim and his passion for the sport, the couple made a significant endowment through the Mark and Mary Ann Kaufman Foundation to establish the Dimitrios Tsatsis Scholarship Fund.
The Dimitrios Tsatsis Scholarship Fund is the first individual endowment of its kind to create a legacy of developing young talent and the future of the American game. This scholarship, as part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Scholarship Program, provides need-based financial aid to the nation’s most talented young players to train and compete at the highest level.
Click here to learn more about Jim's story and his impact on the Development Academy through the Dimitrios Tsatsis Scholarship Fund.