A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester County, New York

Neil Tardio '82

Neil graduated from Rye Country Day in 1982 and continued his academic and athletic career at Boston University, playing soccer, hockey & lacrosse.


Neil Tardio ’82 is a filmmaker and TV commercial director who has received Emmy, Cannes Lions, and Clio awards among others. He has worked with a variety of clients around the world, ranging from multi-national to small start-up companies. Notable clients include ESPN, Gatorade, Ford, Porsche, AT&T, Verizon, Target, Nike, NFL, NHL, anf MLB. Some of Neil’s work is in the permanent collection of advertising at MoMA in New York City. He has also worked with high-profile professional athletes and celebrities, including Beyonce, Sheryl Crow, Wayne Gretsky, Josh Duhamel, Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid, Odell Beckham Jr., and Rob Gronkowski. He is currently creating a new food show for CNN.

“I was captain of soccer, hockey and lacrosse my senior year at RCDS and that was a big honor for me. I was fortunate to have played with incredible athletes in all 3 sports, and I was lucky enough to have played varsity soccer starting in 8th grade. I went on to Boston University where I was able to play 3 different sports throughout my 4 years in school. I was captain and led the BU lacrosse team in scoring my junior and senior year. I played both varsity hockey and soccer at BU, as well.

After college I moved to Perth, Australia where I played lacrosse for the Nollamara Hawks Lacrosse team. 1986 was an incredible time to be in Australia and getting paid to see the world was an incredible experience. After Perth, I played for the Skoal Bandits in the NY area, and we lost in the semifinals of the Vail Tournament in 1989. I tried out for and made the NY Saints of the MILL, but injuries and a real job kept me from playing a full season.”

What was one of your favorite memories or moments when you were a student-athlete at RCDS?

I was very fortunate to have played three sports at RCDS. My senior year we only lost one game in all three sports. We went undefeated in Hockey and Soccer and lost the championship game to Brunswick in Lacrosse.

Did an RCDS coach inspire you? How so?

Three coaches inspired me and to this day influence my life. Coach Bob MacLean taught us innovation. My freshman year he had the whole team doing ballet mornings before school and taking power skating lessons from Laura Stamm. Coach Frank Effinger taught us to be technical and tactical. He was a grinder and a perfectionist–and totally amazing. Coach Gil Castagna taught us to never forget we are playing a game, never give up, and to always love the game no matter what. I see that twinkle of excitement in Coach C’s eye everytime I attempt something competitive nowadays.

What advice would you give to current students at RCDS looking to continue their career as a student-athlete?

The one thing I have learned throughout my life is that all paths lead through Rye! I have lived and traveled all over the world, and no matter where I go, people either know Rye or I run into somebody from Rye (I ran into Sarah Gillman ’82 in the middle of a national park in Iceland 35 years after graduation). RCDS is filled with amazing people that you will continue to cross paths with no matter what you do or where you do it. It is the best gift RCDS gives us.

What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time as a student-athlete at RCDS?

Being at a small school like RCDS, you quickly realize that we all have to pull together. Once you step on the field, there is no longer the divide of seniors and freshmen, there is only one TEAM. And, because of the size of our school, you also quickly came to realize that it is not the size of the player but the size of the HEART in that player. I know it's cliché, but it’s what made us feared by our opponents.

Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat!

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