Maugeri Establishes Endowed Scholarship for Men's Soccer
May 22, 2014
CHICAGO - Carmen Maugeri has lived his life as a true Vincentian in every sense of word while overcoming obstacles in becoming a force in the highly competitive world of advertising and marketing.
By the grace of his mother and grandmother's wisdom and foresight, Maugeri escaped his rough-and-tumble Southwest Side neighborhood to attend St. Vincent de Paul High School Seminary in southwest suburban Lemont.
From there, he matriculated to DePaul University where he became the most valuable player of the first Blue Demon men's soccer team and eventually discovered a shared bloodline with a DePaul basketball legend.
Maugeri is the owner of Mauge, Inc., a creative marketing and advertising agency on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park whose clientele includes AutoBarn and Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson. Maugeri's campaign has made CJ Wilson Mazda in Countryside the No. 1 Mazda dealer in Chicago.
He is also a grateful DePaul alumnus who has never forgotten what the university and its athletics department did for him. In that light, he has established the Maugeri-Mikan Endowed Scholarship for Men's Soccer.
It comes in the midst of "Scholarship Month." For 31 days in May, Blue Demon athletic programs will engage in a scholarship and funding initiative spearheaded by Athletics Development. The alumni team that generates the most scholarship gifts will receive first prize---50 percent of the Athletic Department's on-line auction revenue.
For the longest time, Maugeri had no idea he was a cousin to DePaul and NBA star George Mikan. That's because his grandmother Mary Spaniel with her thick Croatian accent always pronounced George's last name "Mee-kan."
"That's why I never knew I was related to a legendary player," Maugeri said with a smile. "I remember going to DePaul games and seeing all his stuff in the trophy case. My relatives in Pennsylvania on the Mikan side have told me some amazing stories of what George Mikan did.
"When I finally made the connection, it just blew me away. That led me to find out that I had another cousin who was a trainer with the Pittsburgh Steelers in three of the four years they won Super Bowls from 1975-80. He has three Super Bowl rings."
As a youngster growing up in a tough Southwest Side neighborhood, Maugeri has some vivid memories of street brawls.
"There were regular fights and riots between the kids from Kennedy and Curie high schools back in the early 1970s," Maugeri recalled. "We lived on Laramie Avenue and there was this big, open prairie at the end of the block. These fights would go on right after school and continue until the police came.
"It was a tough neighborhood, and to this day, if me and four guys go into a dark alley, I'm the one who is coming out.
"My mom wanted me to be a better person than a neighborhood kid. My mom Mary Ann Maugeri and my grandmother had a lot of influence in me going to St. Vincent de Paul and DePaul University."
That's where his life took a turn for the better.
"What St. Vincent taught me in high school was how to study, do research and analyze," Maugeri said about the seminary that closed in 1991. "DePaul took that one step further.
"The guys I formed relationships with in college are still good friends to this day. I've tried very hard to keep business and my college friendships separate.
"People like (soccer alum and benefactor) Jack Cummins and (DePaul soccer coach) Craig Blazer have done a lot in reaching out and bringing former DePaul athletes back together. I know Jeanne (Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto) has done that throughout the athletics department. She's doing a great job, and I would do anything for her. They all make you truly feel like part of a community.
"DePaul has done so much for me and my family. Since I'm the one who has done well and can give back--I'm the one who gives back to DePaul."
Maugeri still chuckles at his earliest soccer memory as a freshman at St. Vincent.
"I played on St. Vincent de Paul's soccer team all four years," Maugeri said. "My first week in high school at our first practice, Doug Bruno was the soccer coach. The second week, Doug Bruno was gone. He was on his way to becoming what he is today."
Maugeri wound up being the team MVP his junior and senior years at St. Vincent and won the Arthur J. Schmitt Award as a senior. He was leaning towards attending Notre Dame when he switched at the last minute and came to Lincoln Park. DePaul's club soccer team became a varsity sport in Maugeri's senior year.
"That first season of varsity soccer was rough," Maugeri said. "But we had guys with the best heart in the world and were coached by Tim Hankinson, who would go on to coach the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Colorado Rapids in the MLS and the San Antonio Scorpions in the NASL.
"He taught us how to communicate all over the field. It was tough because there weren't any resources for supporting the program back then.
"One of our best games came against Wisconsin. We gave it all we had and played with so much heart. We played brilliantly and trailed just 1-0 at halftime. Wisconsin started out playing all their reserves, but when we hung tough, they brought in their starters in the second half and won 3-1.
"I remember a game we played at Notre Dame where we had to dress outside because the visiting soccer locker room was being used for another function. As we got dressed, I looked at their tremendous facility and saw several soccer fields.
"I saw two soccer teams warming up against each other and remarked to a teammate that Notre Dame must be taking us pretty seriously. He shook his head and said those were the first and second teams getting ready to play each other. We were going against their fifth team."
From such a humble beginning, the Blue Demons have evolved into a Division I program that cometed in the NCAA tournament and twice advanced to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals.
It's someone like Carmen Maugeri who helped to make that possible.
"Carmen was one of the original members of the men's soccer program and has been a leading pioneer when it comes to program support along with his wife, Ginna," Ponsetto said. "All of that help has generated such vigor and enthusiasm for the program and the soccer team. He is really dedicated in providing resources to help us be successful.
"Along with his own generosity, he has reached out to former teammates and friends in this effort. He is another terrific example of DePaul alumni understanding the mission and delivering the message to pay it forward.
"Carmen really values the education and opportunities afforded him when he was a student-athlete at DePaul and now wants to help provide that same opportunity for others."
Maugeri began playing with the DePaul soccer club in 1978 and still competes to this day with that team in 40-and-over and 50-and-over soccer leagues.
"Being a Vincentian and helping out DePaul is in my blood," Maugeri said. "I can't give back to my high school, but I can give back to the Vincentian community through DePaul. I am a Vincentian pure as day."
He is a Vincentian midfielder who has never forgotten his roots.
"Carmen cares so much about DePaul," Blazer said. "I've known Carmen, Ginna and their son Blaise for a number of years and know how passionate they are about DePaul and our soccer players. Carmen and Ginna are great examples of people who have the opportunity to give back.
"One of our former players has gone to work for Carmen at Mauge, Inc. There have been a lot of successful people who have come through our program who genuinely and deeply care about the success of DePaul men's soccer.
"We're always working hard to get better, and our alumni are such a big part of that effort. We are very thankful to Carmen and Ginna."