General news

Published on September 10th, 2018 | by Staples Soccer


Obituary: Darko Maric P’97, Former Coach

Darko Maric — a former Staples High School junior varsity and Westport Soccer Association coach, a professional player in the North American Soccer League, and the father of Peter Maric ’97 — died August 31, after a long illness. He was 75 years old.

Darko — he was known by only one name in Westport, like Pele or Messi — coached his own son, and many other teams of many ages. He was known for his emphasis on technical skills, and joyfully passed on his love for the game to all. He was a player’s coach, beloved by players of all abilities.

Darko moved to Westport in 1977, and became a popular personal fitness trainer. He also began to coach youngsters for various WSA travel teams, camps and clinics. Darko joined the Staples staff in 2003, as new head coach Dan Woog’s first JV coach. “He was a great coach, and a wonderful man,” Woog says. “Darko was kind, good-hearted, always-smiling and upbeat, smart, loving, and passionate about soccer and his family. He loved coaching, teaching and guiding. He helped so many Westport kids learn to play, and he did it for all the right reasons. With Darko, it was always about the game. He epitomized what it meant to be both a coach and a soccer fan.

“I am honored to have worked with him. I learned so much from him. And even after he stopped coaching, he always supported Staples soccer.”

Born in 1942, Darko played professional soccer in his hometown of Zagreb, in the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia), and in the US, for 20 years. Here, he competed in New York’s storied German-American League, then for the NASL’s Houston Stars. (Darko was his middle name. Professionally he used his first and last names, Bozidar Maric.) He was also drafted by the New York Generals. In the early 1970s, he was invited to join the US national team.

Darko developed mild cognitive impairment in 2008, which later progressed to full dementia. As a center halfback, he had headed the ball often. He may have suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Darko wanted to participate in cutting-edge research on repetitive hits to the head in the sports and the military. After his death, tissue from his brain was donated to the effort.

He is survived by his wife Jena, and son Peter.

A memorial service may be held at a later date. Donations in Darko’s name may be made to Concussion Legacy Foundation, or a charity of one’s choice.

Darko Maric



Comments are closed.