Published on September 2nd, 2019 | by Staples Soccer3
1969 State Champs Set 50th Anniversary Reunion. And What A Team It Was!
In the fall of 1969, the Staples soccer team won the state championship. It was a skillful, strong side, well balanced between seniors and juniors.
It was also the start of a remarkable streak. Inspired by the excellent play, superb attitude and high standards set by the ’69 squad, the 1970, ’71, ’72 and ’73 teams went on to win state titles too.
On Saturday, October 5, nearly every member of that 1969 side returns from across the country to The Hill, for a 50th anniversary celebration. They’ll enjoy a lunch in the cafeteria, then watch the Wreckers take on Fairfield Ludlowe in a 2 p.m. battle. Fred Cantor was a junior striker on that team. Here’s his story:
Sports fans are familiar with the adage “records are made to be broken.” The October 5 game includes a 50th anniversary celebration of perhaps the exception to the rule.
The 1969 Staples soccer team will be honored that Saturday afternoon for having started a record-setting streak that remains to this very day.
From 1969-1973 Staples won or shared 5 consecutive state soccer championships. No Connecticut boys’ soccer team has ever matched that.
But the reunion of the ‘69 squad will not be simply about records or memorable victories.
It will also be about the special experience and camaraderie that developed by being high school teammates with the kids you grew up with, then playing in front of large crowds of your high school classmates, and last but not least, having that bond endure for decades.
Equally important, the reunion will be about the passion for soccer forged through countless hours of playing together. This was exemplified all throughout 1969 by being part of the first U-18 Westport SC club in the spring (and winning the state cup); being teammates in the summer rec league Watermelon Cup, then playing pickup games on weeknights when the Watermelon Cup was not in session, all culminating in the Staples soccer season in the fall.
This passion perhaps best manifested itself in what “the boys of autumn” went on to do in soccer after Staples.
Six seniors (Steve Baumann, Sandy Wilder, Larry McFaddin, Mark Brickley, Will Jansen and Scott McNeill), along with 10 juniors (Tracy McIntosh, Neil Brickley, Olaf Neilsen, Steve Levin, Wally Salwen, Trip Pearce, Tim Hunter, Steve McCoy, Mark McGuire and Dale Hollingsworth) all became captains of their college soccer teams. That’s 16 college captains, out of one team!
Two players — Baumann and Hunter — were honored as All-Americans in college. Both played professionally in the North American Soccer League. Hunter was also a member of the US national team in the Pan American Games.
Wilder also played professional soccer (in the American Soccer League), and became director of youth development for the 2 teams he played for.
Mark Brickley worked for the New York Cosmos during the heyday of Pele and Beckenbauer. (Hunter’s younger brother Paul was a defender on those legendary Cosmos teams.)
Four seniors on the ‘69 squad (Baumann, Wilder, McFaddin and Scott McNeil) ultimately coached at the college level.
And McFaddin and fellow senior Scott Williamson were 2 founders of what ultimately became the Lake Placid Soccer Centre, where McFaddin served as a program coordinator for many years.
Other members of that 1969 team went on to work in the fields of medicine, law, engineering, business, energy, hospitality and more.
Players from the ‘69 squad will undoubtedly express gratitude for the dedication of their coaches: Staples program founder Albie Loeffler, Jim Kuhlmann (who worked with the players in the spring and summer), Frank Henrick (head coach in 1969, while Loeffler was on a sabbatical), and Jeff Lea (co-head coach in 1970 when Loeffler suffered a heart attack during the summer of ‘70).
The sentiments will also echo those expressed in a recent email from McFaddin, who was an All-Yankee Conference selection at the University of New Hampshire. He called 1969 “an amazing season. It is still the best memory I ever had in soccer. Can’t wait to see all of you.”