Joey DiCamillo, a resident of Freehold Township, worked his whole life to become a professional musician.
The 25-year-old DiCamillo built his schedule around playing shows at night, taking an unstable day job, dropping out of school, even living at home with his parents.
By last summer, 2017, the efforts were paying off. DiCamillo played bass for a rock band called Modern Chemistry, based in New Brunswick. During a summer tour of America, Modern Chemistry opened for the popular alternative rock band, Taking Back Sunday.
DiCamillo and his band were playing to sold out crowds in well known venues, like Webster Hall in New York City and The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, every night.
But after the tour, in November, DiCamillo started hearing a ringing noise in his ears. He visited a doctor, who diagnosed him with tinnitus, a condition where you hear ringing even when there are no external sounds.
“It came out of the fact that I was a pro musician for my entire adult life. I didn’t protect my ears well. If you get exposed to a certain amount of decibels over time, it’s damaging,” DiCamillo said. “The doctors don’t know the science and there’s no cure. Spending five months on the road a year, playing a show every night. I played more shows than the average person has attended. So combine that with shows I’ve attended, and it’s too much noise too constantly.”
DiCamillo faced a choice: either stop playing music or allow the condition to deteriorate.
“It would have resulted in excessive exasperation where I would have eventually just heard the ringing and nothing else,” DiCamillo said. “I had to leave music for my health. It was the single hardest decision I’ve ever made.”
After making his decision, DiCamillo needed to find a new passion. He was doing office work at the Fireside Grill and Bar in Marlboro, and his mind started to wander. DiCamillo had always loved soccer, but he had never played as a kid.
So he decided to start his own team, Monmouth Light FC, in the Garden State Soccer League (GSSL), a statewide league for adult players.
DiCamillo created a logo, a webpage, social media accounts and recruited a roster of 18-38 year old men.
Now, Monmouth Light has a full roster of 25 players that travels around Monmouth, Middlesex, Mercer and Ocean counties playing other GSSL clubs. The team is filled with players such as DiCamillo, who love the game and wanted to play it consistently.
“We are men’s league guys,” said DiCamillo’s teammate, Mike Stouber, a 28-year old from Marlboro. “I’m just the average guy who loves the sport.”
Monmouth Light has been competitive in every game, winning a few games, losing some and even tying a few. But playing is the fun part. DiCamillo is focusing more energy on building a brand and becoming a local entertainment product.
“Joey’s goal is to make the brand bigger than a regular Sunday men’s league,” Stouber said. “The goal is to make it so people come watch. We even have some sponsors lined up.”
Monmouth Light is already making progress in the publicity arena. It has been featured on some lower tier soccer blogs, and DiCamillo is planning a YouTube series about the life of a lower tier soccer club in America.
“A series like that in Britain about lower tier soccer will have hundreds of thousands of subscribers,” DiCamillo said. “There are no summer league shows in America.”
By drawing attention to the team, DiCamillo and Monmouth Light also hope to set a positive example for youth teams in the region.
“We want to grow our supporter program for people to come and watch,” said DiCamillo’s co-manager, Bill Dannevig. “Like, ‘There’s a new club playing in Monmouth County, it’s a great group of guys and they play great soccer.'”
DiCamillo, of course, still misses music a lot. But he recognizes that he had no other choice. Walking away was the only way to gradually decrease the ringing over time.
And less than a year since giving up music, DiCamillo has already found a new passion. He is just as committed to Monmouth Light FC as he was to his Modern Chemistry rock band. He is also just as committed to soccer as he was to music.
DiCamillo even has a new day job, as an associate sales representative at Soccer Post in Eatontown.
“I started this club as a healing thing for me. Something I can pour my creative energy into. Once I started rolling, I realized I could do it long term. This is going to be a legacy project,” DiCamillo said. “We want it standing for as long as possible. Build this brand to be as recognizable as possible in person and online.”