The 2014 Hall of Fame class was inducted into the Hall at the USASA’s annual Midyear Meeting, that took place in Bonita Springs, Florida, September 25-28, 2014. The 2014 class included: Alphonse Amato, Toni Briggs McGee, Richard Groff, Paul Scherer and Hank Steinbrecher.
The USASA Hall of Fame was established in 2006, to honor those individuals who have significantly contributed to the growth of adult amateur soccer in the United States. The selected individuals will be inducted into the Hall at the USASA’s annual Midyear Meeting, to take place this year in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Al Amato is an individual dedicated to the development and promotion of soccer at the adult and youth levels. During his 35 years of soccer involvement at the state level, he was a player, coach, referee and administrator. He also served 21 years as the treasurer for the Florida State Soccer Association.
Al started playing soccer in 1973 during high school and afterwards, started playing for a local adult team. From 1986 to 1988, he was the local league president and started attending FSSA meetings. In 1989 Al was elected to the FSSA board of directors as treasurer. During his tenure, he managed $3.2 million without any exceptions. One of his greatest joys was budgeting and providing travel funds that allowed the Florida Select and National Cup teams to participate and win several USASA national titles. He was instrumental in creating the FSSA Foundation with funds from international gate receipts. This allowed the FSSA to further develop and promote the growth of soccer. He also served on several committees for referee development, Orlando World Cup and Olympic games, and attended numerous USSF and USASA meetings as a delegate for the state of Florida.
Al has a BS/BA in Finance from the University of Central Florida and a MBA from Webster University. He continues to serve the soccer community as Secretary, since 1989, for the Central Florida Soccer League.
Toni Briggs McGee
Toni Briggs McGee was elected Treasurer of USASA for the first time in the summer of 2002 in San Francisco and brought a new professional outlook and insistence on doing what was the best for USASA. She immediately sought what was best for adult soccer throughout the US. From her efforts and leadership, USASA has come light years in the areas of finance, accounting, budgeting and accountability since 2002.
She sits and has sat on the U.S. Soccer Budget Committee. She chairs the USASA Budget Committee and helps to formulate the annual budget. Members listen, when she talks in her realm of expertise. She has been known to say it like it is; circumvention is not in her vocabulary. Toni is also a valued member of the USASA Women's Championship Committee.
She married into soccer blood (her marriage was like a soccer gathering), and, except for her world-wide travels, which have become her favorite form of rest and relaxation from the maddening pace of a tax accountant, soccer has been her avocation-extraordinaire.
Toni has demonstrated true leadership in USASA. She has stood for what is right, ethical and fiscally responsible. She has helped grow the game and put a much more professional face on the organization as a whole. Toni's expertise has been wisely utilized, in the role of USASA Treasurer, for more than 10 years. She has given selflessly in her hours and dedication to the organization.
As the President of the US Adult Soccer Association from 2010 to 2014, Groff helped modernize the USASA and increase the association’s role as a leader forwarding the growth and structure of the game in the country. Under Groff’s leadership, the USASA has become fiscally strong, expanded and simplified player registration through an online registration system and developed insurance plans for adult players throughout the country. He was awarded the Werner Fricker Builder Award by US Soccer earlier this year.
Groff began his more than three-decade foray into soccer in the United States as an administrator in 1986 when he was elected Vice President of the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association and then President a year later. In 1989, Groff began a stellar period of promoting U. S. National Team games – the Men’s National Team went from an average crowd of 16,540 in 1990 to 30,829 in 1994 – and was elected Treasurer of U.S. Soccer in 1990. He helped organize pre-World Cup matches throughout 1990 and, along with Sunil Gulati, organized the 1992 U.S. Cup, a tournament that ran until 2000 with the exception of FIFA World Cup years in 1994 and 1998.
In 1994, Groff was instrumental in organizing the Women’s Chiquita Cup, which the USA won against China, Germany and Norway, a tournament that proved the WNT was a draw in its own right. Later that year, he became the Commissioner of the American Professional Soccer League and helped to not only keep the league from folding, but transformed it into a viable entity that paved the way for Major League Soccer and USL PRO. Under his stewardship the A-League developed sponsorships and a television broadcast deal, signed new franchises and engineered a merger with United Soccer Leagues that solidified the future of what is now the third tier of professional soccer in the United States.
Paul has been recognized by the Idaho State Soccer Association as the first and only life member in 1999, he was honored as the ISSA coach of the year from 2005-2008 and given the USASA Region IV coach of the year award in 2006. The Southern Idaho Soccer League honored him for everything he has done for soccer in Idaho by naming their annual invitational tournament the “Paul Scherer Invitational.” Then in 2012 Paul was inducted into the United States Adult Soccer Association Region IV Hall of Fame. Currently he is the Region IV Cups Commissioner.
Paul gets easily embarrassed by recognition for his contributions, as he always puts it, “I just want to be Andy Anonymous.” While on the other hand he is quick to recognize others for their hard work and contributions and has instituted several awards in Idaho for that very purpose and has nominated others for regional and national recognition.
If you ask Paul about rewarding experiences he will tell you about the U-8 girls Championship team he coached, of which two of those players made it on the CA-N Youth Regional team and came to visit him and thank him for all the great things he did for them and being such a wonderful coach, And don’t get him started about talking about his relationship with Bobby Howe and Jimmy Conway his coaches and mentors and his experiences while taking the USSF National “C” coaching license from them. And if you bugged him enough he might even tell you about the coaching experiences he had with John Ellinger, Tom Fitzgerald, Sigi Schmidt, Norm Jackson and Steve Samson. Not too bad for, as he calls himself, “a spudboy from Idaho.”
Hank Steinbrecher - Special Inductee
Hank was Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) from 1990 to 2000, a decade in which soccer in the United States made huge strides both on and off the field.
He organized two highly successful FIFA World Cup soccer competitions, the Men’s in 1994 and the Women’s in 1999 and helped established Major League Soccer. A life-long soccer enthusiast, Hank brought a unique blend of soccer and corporate marketing knowledge and experience to the United States Soccer Federation, which saw soccer break into the sports mainstream for the first time.
Steinbrecher first became interested in soccer as a youth in New York, and eventually found himself taking the field as a star collegiate player for an NAIA
National Championship team Davis & Elkins, a small collegiate soccer power in the mountains of West Virginia.
It is for his administrative abilities that Hank Steinbrecher is best known nationally. Under his guidance as Secretary General of the USSF, soccer in the United States experienced unprecedented growth.
After he joined the federation on Nov. 5, 1990, the size of the full time staff at the federation tripled to well over 100 and the referee program swelled to 100,00-plus members nationwide, while the number of coaches increased to more than 80,000, and U.S. Soccer’s full time coaching
staff grew from one to 25. Perhaps most importantly, though, he took a lead role in marketing the sport to potential sponsors, helping U.S. Soccer’s corporate family grow from two to nearly two-dozen in the years leading up to the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
His first taste of the sports business came when he served as the Harvard University soccer venue director during the 1984 Olympic Games. Under his managerial direction, the venue sold out every event, helping to swell the Olympic soccer attendance total at the ’84 Games to more than 1.4 million, more than any other Olympic sport.