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Mayo set to honor its soccer giant, Dr. Charles Abboud

Dr. Charles Abboud spent 34 years as Mayo High School's head boys soccer coach. On Tuesday, he'll be recognized for all of his contributions.

Dr. Charles Abboud
Mayo coach Dr. Charles Abboud talks with Ian Hathaway during the break at the half Thursday evening August 25, 2011, against Lakeville South. The retired Abboud will be recognized for all of his contributions to Mayo soccer on Tuesday.
Post Bulletin file photo
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“Hello, my friend, how are you doing? Tell me about your family.”

That is the greeting — so full of warmth — that always came from Mayo High School longtime and Minnesota Hall of Fame boys soccer coach, Dr. Charles Abboud.

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On Tuesday, at Mayo Stadium, a throng of indebted spectators will be on hand to tell the 83-year-old Abboud that they are doing well, and in no small part, thanks to him.

Mayo is using the occasion of its 7 p.m. game with Austin to dedicate the south end of the stadium to Abboud, who after 34 years as its boys head coach, retired following the 2019 season.

Abboud finished with a record of 457-113-43 at Mayo, with four state tournament appearances. But with this native of Palestine, who spent 41 years as an esteemed endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic, his impact on young men and his influence in growing soccer in Rochester dwarfed all of that winning.

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And that, above all, was always Abboud’s goal.

“The first thing I wanted my players to know was that what you’re going to be bringing to soccer, you’re going to be bringing to every aspect of your life — your work life, your married life, your family life,” Abboud said. “I wanted them to not only bring out the best in themselves, but the best in their teammates. Soccer should be foundational in the sense that you carry along that commitment to everything you do, every day. It is foundational for your involvement in life.”

Dean Alcock and Andy Regal both played for Abboud and also coached with him at Mayo, as assistants.

The 52-year-old Alcock’s high school playing days were actually at John Marshall. But he played for Abboud in Rochester youth soccer, where where the Palestian native’s coaching days got their start and where his promotion of the game (along with close friend and fellow Palestinian Fuad Mansour) got it off the ground in Rochester in the 1980s. Abboud was influential enough at that level to later be inducted into both the Minnesota and Rochester Youth Soccer Association Halls of Fame.

His influence on Alcock, a 20-year assistant under Abboud at Mayo, was immediate and has never waned.

“Doctor was intense, yet kind and very driven,” said Alcock, who was a member of three state youth championship teams under Abboud. “The integrity of the game and how it was played meant so much to him. He demanded sportsmanship from us. If we were not sporting, he would let us know, kindly but sternly. You could never speak negatively about a referee, and if you did, he’d have you come off the field and he’d give you a look and an earful. He was intimidating in his words, but he always had a way of bringing guys together, no matter their abilities.”

It was a style and an impact that Alcock, himself a longtime soccer coach, has always tried to emulate. As much as he’s wanted to get there, it’s not been easy to match up to Abboud.

“Having coached with him for 20 years, there was always an aura that he had, with him demanding of his players and himself,” Alcock said. “You don’t really understand the life skills that he taught you until you get older. I’ve tried to reproduce that my entire coaching career, but it’s tough to do.”

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Regal is a 1988 Mayo graduate and played three years under Abboud. He was later an assistant to him at Mayo and continues to serve in that same capacity under second-year Mayo head coach Tim Jennings.

When it comes to Abboud, he regards him as a soccer giant. But even more than that, he considers him a giant in all of the lives that he’s touched.

“It was his ability to teach life skills that stood out,” Regal said. “He had this calm about him; he never got frazzled. When he spoke, everyone listened. He was our mentor. I learned a lot from Doctor about the game; he instilled that foundation for us, a foundation that we continue to teach.”

Abboud, who retired from Mayo Clinic in 1985 and now spends his summers in Mendota Heights and winters in Florida, always considered his coaching to be a two-way street. He taught and was taught. He gave and he was given.

The “beautiful game” has been a beautiful part of his life.

“I think they are honoring me because they know how many people touched me in Mayo soccer and that I touched others,” he said. “This is recognition for all of those that I learned from and all of those that I taught.”

As for Tuesday’s dedication, it can’t come fast enough for the 83-year-old, Rochester’s soccer godfather.

“I can’t wait to be there,” Abboud said.

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MEMORY BOOK

An opportunity to offer thoughts and reflections of Dr. Charles Abboud has been set up. Here is the link: https://www.newlywords.com/dr-charles-abboud

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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