The Palm Coast resident joined legends Howard Schnellenberger, Don Shula and Jim Mandich in the Hall of Fame.
Roland Gomez had just started coaching baseball for the Miami Lakes Optimist Club in 1974 when a friend told him the club needed coaches for two girls soccer teams.
"He said, 'Why don't you take a team, and I'll take a team,'" Gomez said. "Neither of us had ever coached soccer before. I had never even watched a soccer game."
Neither of them won a game the entire season. But Gomez stuck with it and went on to coach the club's under-19 girls travel team for 20 years, taking the team to numerous tournaments throughout the United States and abroad. For his years of service to the club, Gomez was inducted into the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame last month, along with former University of Miami football coach Howard Schnellenberger and three others.
Roland Gomez, 83, was a Miami lawyer before retiring to Palm Coast with his wife, Flossi, in 2001. Gomez is also a member of the Miami Senior High Football Hall of Fame, where he was a 170-pound offensive guard.
Gomez, 83, was a Miami lawyer before retiring to Palm Coast with his wife, Flossi, in 2001. Gomez is also a member of the Miami Senior High Football Hall of Fame, where he was a 170-pound offensive guard. He graduated from high school in 1956 and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida.
He originally joined the Miami Lakes Optimist Club to play on its softball team, but he soon became an active member, coaching youth sports and leading the drive to build the organization's first clubhouse. In 1985, the club named a scholarship after him -- the Roland Gomez Scholarship Award -- that annually provides a male and a female high school senior $1,000 each to help support their college education.
Over the years, Gomez took his U-19 teams to tournaments throughout the United States and Canada as well as Russia, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. After his initial experience coaching soccer, he decided to immerse himself into the sport.
"I needed to be educated," he said. "I started taking coaching courses. I started playing a little. I went to coaching clinics."
He said about 25 of his players went on to receive full or partial soccer scholarships in college.
The other inductees into the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame last month were former major league pitcher Gus Gandarillas, former UCF volleyball player and coach Miriam Ochoa and former Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School football coach Michael Uspensky. Schnellerberger and Uspenksy were inducted posthumously.
Other notable members of the Hall of Fame include former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula and former Dolphins player and broadcaster Jim Mandich.
Gomez was presented by two of his former players -- Jennifer Kujawa, who flew in from California, and Louise McAlpin, who worked in Gomez's office in high school and is now a partner in the Holland & Knight law firm.
Gomez is a longtime travel softball player and still plays in the Flagler Senior Softball league.