The phone call was from Mickey Cochrane. No complaints from this faithful reader of Southern Soccer Scene. Just some observations and some suggestions.
It was in reference to the first installment of Neil Morris’ outstanding two piece article about the demise of the National Soccer Hall of Fame that appeared in our August and September issues.
Morris wrote about how the National Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY, came tobe,andhowitcametoanend.He wrote about all the exhibits, memorabilia and artifacts that had been boxed up, shipped to Hillsborough, NC, and stored in the warehouse owned by Soccer Endeavors, more commonly known as Eurosport.
But everything had not been shipped to Hillsborough, and Cochrane thought you should know that some are still accessable, and currently on display.
If anyone would know this sort of thing, it would be Mickey, who is the Historian for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. If you have been to a NSCAA convention. He’s one of the Red Apron guys who may have helped you complete your registration.
Actually, what was shipped to Hillsborough was U.S. Soccer’s considerable contribution to the HOF exhibits. Valued jerseys, soccer balls, trophies, banners, game programs, yearbooks, records, photographs and memories. And much, much more.
They were all shipped to North Carolina and locked away waiting for a new National Soccer Hall of Fame some time in the future. Especially the memories!
“All of the NSCAA’s college exhibits were taken back to Kansas City, and currently on display in the national office,” said Cochrane, a Hall of Fame soccer coach at Johns Hopkins and Bowling Green universities.
“The youth soccer material from AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) went to California and the NISOA (referee) documents and displays went to New Jersey.”
Steve Veal, Associate Executive Director of the NSCAA, confirmed all that Cochrane had said, and he knew who went to Oneonta with a U-Haul truck and hauled it back to Kansas City. It was Veal and another NSCAA official.
Now it wasn’t like we needed confirmation of the information Cochrane was sharing. If you need to know something historical about the game, particularly about the college game, Mickey can probably find it right in his home.
He’s got all the back issues of the NSCAA’s Soccer Journal. Once they resided in the soccer offices at the University of Pennsylvania. Cochrane rescued them from destruction when no one else wanted them. They are now in his home.
Cochrane has copies of the original Spaulding Guide Rule Books that date back to the early years in the 1900s.
Those tell the story of the early days of intercollegiate soccer in the United States. League play began in 1907, long before the birth of the NCAA, and the first All-Americans who were selected in 1909.
Cochrane can tell you about the six academic studies that were written about intercollegiate soccer. He is proud to say that his Masters thesis, entitled A Study Of Intercollegiate Data In the United States From 1905-1961 was one of those.
He wrote that for his Masters degree “from College Park”, which we know today as the University of Maryland.
Those studies are on micro film at the University of Oregon. They are available to anyone who is interested.
Morris’ article told the story about how many soccer folks in and around the town of Oneonta embraced the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and how others could have done more to keep it viable.
In the end, it came down to finances. Too much overhead, too few visitors, and not enough sponsor dollars.
Cooperstown is just down the road from Oneonta, and they have the Baseball Hall of Fame there. Lots of visitors to Oneonta also visited Cooperstown. Not enough visitors to the Baseball Hall of Fame drove up the road to Oneonta.
Ironically, the current president of the NSCAA is the man who had the best view of all that took place when they closed the doors in Oneonta.
Jack Huckel, like Cochrane is a former collegiate soccer coach. And like Cochrane, he is a historian. He was the fulltime Director of Museum & Archives at the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
He is also a practical man, and one who tried to make things work in the dying days of the Soccer HOF. In the end, it became a classic case of having to accept reality.
But Huckel is an optimistic person. There is still a place for a National Soccer Hall of Fame, and a need for it. He believes there will be a time when another effort will be more successful.
“I am hopefully optimistic,” he recently said about the chances of another National Soccer Hall of Fame. “I have no time frame for that to happen.”
Huckel believes that it will take someone with a lot of money who would like to make this their legacy project.
He also believes that the future success of the United States National teams, whose successes fuel the general interest from the public in the sport, is critical in attracting support.
Had the U.S. been selected to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a new explosion of interest in soccer would have occurred with the tournament being on the front pages of newspapers every day, and the lead-in on Sports Center every night.
An opportunity lost, but not gone forever.
They recently inducted Peter Vermes and Joe-Max Moore into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Kansas City on the day the U.S. played a World Cup qualifier there against Jamaica.
All the dignitaries were there, the inductees got their red blazers. There were way more fans in the stadium than ever attended a HOF Induction in Oneonta. It was a very nice event.
But at the end of the evening, the lights went out and everyone went home. And there was no museum to return to the next day to see the “soccer stuff.”
Nowhere to go to see the old films or the new video tape of recent inductees. Or touch a book or program over 100 years old or more.
For now what we have is what we have, and we can thank people like Mickey and Jack, and all the others, who have saved the history of the game in America.
For now the “stuff” is spread all over the United States. Some is in California, some in New Jersey, some in Kansas City, and yes, some in Hillsborough, NC.