Kent Sports Specialty Store -- for the love of the game Owner Tony DiPreta features soccer and lacrosse merchandise in his new shop
Owner Tony DiPreta features soccer and lacrosse merchandise
Tony DiPreta knows soccer.
From the time he was a young boy in Settefrati, Italy, Tony played the sport, known through much of the world as football.
"My great-grandfather, Nicola, was a soccer player and designed equipment," Mr. DiPreta said. "It's in the family."
"My grandfather, my father played on all levels and were in the business," he said. "My daughter, Christina, and my son, Eric, both play. I've started training my granddaughter, Domenica, age 2, how to handle the ball."
Mr. DiPreta, 57, has taken his love of the game and, in May of this year, opened Kent Sports Specialty Store, at the corner of Routes 341 and 7 behind Doc's restaurant in Kent.
He previously had started training camps in Fairfield County over the years.
Mr. DiPreta has two sports shops in Ridgefield, the Ridgefield Sports Shop and American Pro-Soccer.
"The Kent shop is 60 percent soccer-oriented and 40 percent lacrosse," Mr. Dipreta said. "I hold soccer training classes for ages 4 and up out in front, and offer advice for parents on what course to take in providing training for their children."
"This is my life," he said.
Mr. DiPreta developed a soccer shoe 12 years ago, the American Pro, that is marketed mostly in Europe. He carries the shoe, along with other American brands in the Kent store.
"It's about comfort," he said of sizing a shoe for a player. "The major companies such as Adidas, Nike -- their size 8 shoe (for example) comes in different sizing depending on the brand. Some run wide. Some run longer. So it's all about finding the shoe that fits the foot."
Mr. DiPreta prides himself on never using a measuring device in sizing a shoe for a player. It's "all by eye and fit," he said.
Need uniforms for a soccer or lacrosse team?
Mr. DiPreta prints the letters, the logo and the numbers on top-quality jerseys, all at his Ridgefield store. He believes in providing quality products on time.
"I don't ever tell a customer, it's held up at the printers or apologize for poor quality," he said.
When he talks about the recent World Cup games, his eyes light up.
His soccer "idol" is Roberto Baggio, a former Italian star player.
He cites Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for the Portuguese national team, among the hot players today.
Spice Girl Victoria Beckham's soccer-playing husband, David Beckham?
"Beckham set up one of the best set plays of any player I'd seen," said Mr. DiPreta, adding that the Englishman is now past his prime.
Kent Sports Specialty Store in the center of Kent is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and often on Sundays. Call 860-927-0937 for more information.