Next Gen USA is honored to have had Hank Steinbrecher deliver the keynote address for the Character of Champions Gala Banquet on Friday, June 9th at The Madison in Riverside, New Jersey.  Thank you, Mr. Soccer, for joining us and inspiring everyone with your message about life, leadership and family.


Hank Steinbrecher

Keynote Speaker, Character of Champions Gala Banquet


Known throughout the American soccer community as "Mr. Soccer", Steinbrecher is widely regarded as one of the principal architects of Major League Soccer and an undisputed leader of U.S. Soccer's ascension over the past 25 years. Steinbrecher's rise to the top post in American soccer started on the playgrounds and sandlots of Long Island. He played the Beautiful Game with passion, tenacity and spirit - qualities which would help him make a name for himself in both college and corporate circles later in life. 

Steinbrecher was born July 11, 1947 in Rockaway Beach, N.Y., and started playing soccer at age 6. Along the way played for the Kollsman Soccer Club under the direction of legendary coach Hans Bayen and, later, moved with his family to Levittown, N.Y., where he starred for the Division Avenue High School team.

After graduation his playing career heated up when he matriculated at Mitchell Junior College and came under the mentorship of former NSCAA president Warren Swanson. After acquiring his Associate Arts degree from Mitchell, he transferred to Davis and Elkins College where, in 1970, he helped Dr. Greg Myers win the NAIA National Championship.

He graduated from Davis and Elkins in 1971 - with a Bachelor of Arts in English - and on August 12, 1972 - the day before he received his Masters of Education from West Virginia University - he lost his personal 'bachelor's' pedigree when he married the lovely Ruth Anne Delaney. Years later, Hank embarked on a coaching career that took him above and beyond his wildest dreams. He started his career at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C. The little known school, clearly, was not a soccer power. But it wasn't long before its opponents included some of the bigger names in soccer. Clemson, UNC, South Carolina and Indiana soon would know that Warren Wilson College - sounding more like the name of a presidential library - was a formidable soccer opponent, and its coach - a ranting, raving, never-say-die enthusiast - was more than just a cheerleader.

His vision for his team and his competitive approach to every challenge was not only the fire he brought with him from his life's journeys; it was the benchmark for greatness that one day would influence the very destiny of American soccer. After four seasons at Warren Wilson, where he also served as Director of Athletics, he accepted the position as Associate Professor and Coach of Soccer at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. Over the next three seasons he led the Mountaineers to a 33-10-2 record - which included an unmatched record of 20-0-0 in Southern Conference play.

In 1978 he was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year as well as NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year. It was here he produced several All American players including Thompson Usiyan, Keith Layne and Emmanual Ebeka. His next stop was Boston University where, over the next four years he led his team to the ECAC playoffs and produced additional All-Americans including Jose ''Che Che'' Vidal and Francis Okaroh who, this past year, was inducted into the Boston University Hall of Fame. But other forces were at loose in the Boston area and in 1984 Hank was invited by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to become the Venue Director for the games at Harvard University.

After the Olympics, Steinbrecher joined the Quaker Oats Company and helped develop the strategic plan for marketing the Gatorade brand. Over the course of the next six years, Hank was Mr. Gatorade. He negotiated contracts with sports leagues and teams, successfully launched Gatorade in a variety of international markets, devised integrated marketing promotions to increase sales volume and managed a sports marketing budget of a measly $52 million.

In 1990, Steinbrecher accepted the post of Secretary General of the US Soccer Federation. Steinbrecher was responsible for all US National Teams, and for the management of all US Soccer business affairs. As CEO of US Soccer, Steinbrecher was responsible for all aspects of managing a large not-for-profit sport organization with annual revenues in excess of 30 million. Steinbrecher served in senior leadership positions for the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

In his role at the Federation, Steinbrecher was responsible for a number of innovations, including U.S. Soccer’s relocation to Chicago, the 1993 Soccer Summit and the implementation of Project 2010 and Project Gold. Steinbrecher also served as U.S. Soccer’s point man in serving as the host federation for two incredibly successful World Cups (1994 men’s and 1999 women’s) and the 1996 Olympic Soccer Tournament.

Perhaps most importantly, though, he took a lead role in marketing the sport to potential sponsors, helping U.S. Soccer’s corporate family grow throughout the 1990s. By the end of the 1990’s, the U.S. Men had appeared in three World Cups, won a Gold Cup, finished third at two Confederations Cup and established an annual national presence by competing domestically year round in tournament’s like the Nike U.S. Cup. For the U.S. Women, success meant two Women’s World Cup crowns, an Olympic Gold Medal and a winning record unrivaled in the sport.

In 1993, Steinbrecher was at the forefront of the Soccer Summit, bringing together leaders from across the American soccer landscape to chart the course of the sports future into the next millennium. That course would eventually result in the successful 1994 World Cup and then the birth of Major League Soccer, the highest level of professional club soccer ever seen in the United States.

Steinbrecher was awarded the 2012 U.S. Soccer’s Werner Fricker Builder Award, which  honors individuals who have worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of the world’s favorite sport.  Recipients of the Werner Fricker Builder award proudly wear the red sports jacket.