Dennis Picco (‘peek-oh’), like so many kids, played sports growing up. It was the fabric of his family life on the Northside of Edmonton.
“My younger brother, Louis, and I played organized sports”, explained Picco. “I played hockey until I was 16 years old, and in the summers, up until the age of 15, I also played soccer. I also found the time to play some baseball in the summer too.
In fact, we used to get our sporting equipment from Highland Sports, which was in the location that is now Sport Central.” Yes, there was a time the location that today gives away sports equipment to those in need was home to a business that sold sports equipment. Picco, the recently turned 60-year-old, remembers the place, Highland Sports, along with the ‘place’ sports held within his family. “Our parents, our family, we didn’t have a lot growing up, but we played in every sport. It kept you busy, and it kept you out of trouble. We never lacked for sporting equipment – sticks, skates, soccer balls, or basketballs to shoot hoops in someone’s driveway.” With that in mind it was a slam dunk when Picco was asked whether he would be interested in signing up as a member of the Sports Central Champions Club.
“What draws me to the Champions Club is the nostalgia of sports. The impact that sports has had on my life and what I have seen it do for others”, explained the father of four. “It’s nice to give those who can’t afford to play sports the opportunity to play. I think it’s a wonderful thing what Sport Central and the Champions Club does.” What Picco does for a living is work as a lawyer. In fact, for 34 years, he has been working at Dentons, the largest firm in Edmonton. His duties revolve around settling construction disputes that owners/general contractors may have with engineers/designers or vice versa. One thing he’ll never dispute is the importance of sport. It’s not only what it does for you on the field, rink, diamond, or pitch but what it can also do for you in court, and not one made for tennis. “I can honestly say at Dentons that we look for leadership. A lot of important attributes to be successful you obtain through sport.” Picco went on to say, “when we hire people, if someone played competitive team sports it shows they know how to cooperate with people. Like a team, everyone in our firm has a job to do and those next to you are relying on you to do your job.”
It was as a 16-year-old that a bunch of other kids and teenagers started relying on the Edmontonian, at that young age, Picco started coaching and stopped playing. “I ran out of playing ability”, joked the former soccer player, “there weren’t all these clubs (Northwest United/Ital Canadians) in the north end that there are today. In fact, my first coaching gig was U-5 Montrose. Coaching was fun, it kept me in the sport. It was neat to see what sport did to kids and what it brought to kids.” He saw this at the youngest age levels and at the higher levels. “We started the Trotters soccer club in the 70’s, but people thought it was a horse racing club, so we changed it to the Strikers”, said Picco. “I started coaching a U-14 tier 2 team and the U-14’s went all the way to nationals. I carried forward to U-18.” He spent about a dozen years coaching with the Strikers before he got married in 1987 and started his own ‘team’ in 1994. He did continue with some coaching but most of his bench work was either done in court or working as an assistant with teams that involved one of his four children (Emma, Sarah, Andrew, and Ryan).
Sports have given so much to Dennis Picco that he has decided to continue giving back with the Champions Club.
“It [sports] was so important to us. We lived and breathed it either by playing or by watching it on TV. To be able to share that passion with someone, through the Champions Club and Sport Central, is a wonderful thing”
for this lawyer…it’s case closed.