The Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Fame will induct its eight-member Class of 2016 during its third annual banquet Saturday night at Discovery World in Milwaukee.
Mark Babich, Herbie Dundun, Mike Huwiler, Jonathan Meersman, Leslie Osborne, Bill Podewils, Jim Spielmann and Dan Stebbins will be enshrined in the Hall, which operates "independent and autonomous from any soccer body in Wisconsin."
They will join the two previous classes of inductees in the Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Fame, along with all members of the Wisconsin Soccer Association Hall of Fame who were inducted between 1977 and 2013. The WSA Hall of Fame continues to induct new classes each year and operates as a separate organization.
The Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Fame works in collaboration with the recognized state governing bodies for adult soccer (Wisconsin Soccer Leagues), youth soccer (Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association), coaches (Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association) and referees (Wisconsin Soccer Referee Development Program).
Saturday's dinner and induction ceremony, being held in conjunction with the WSL and WYSA annual general meetings, starts with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and the ceremony at 6:30 p.m. The event is sold out, with all 375 tickets sold. Here's a look at this year's inductees:
After playing for the Milwaukee Serbians and United Serbians while growing up in Milwaukee, Babich was a four-year letterwinner at the University of Wisconsin from 1979 to '82. He was a team captain for the Badgers his final two seasons; UW finished 15-2-2 and earned the program's first NCAA tournament berth in 1981. Babich then played for the Madison 56ers and was an integral part of their successful teams in the mid- to late 1980s, including their Wisconsin Soccer Association championship side in 1988. He now resides in Hartland after time living in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
A native of Nigeria, Dundun played at UW-Green Bay from 1981 to '84 – the Phoenix earned an NCAA tournament berth in 1983, their first season as a Division I program. He continued playing, but established himself as one of the top coaches in the Milwaukee area over the next three decades. Dundun coached adult teams with the Milwaukee Kickers and Milwaukee Serbians, youth sides with FMI and Brookfield Soccer Association and the Green Bay Southwest, Waukesha North and Brookfield East high school teams – he's been coaching at East since 2004 in his second stint with the Spartans. His club teams have won seven state titles and advanced to two U.S. Youth Soccer Region II finals, while his prep teams have earned eight WIAA state tournament appearances. Dundun was the WSCA Large Schools Coach of the Year in 2010.
Huwiler is one of the most accomplished players in state history. He helped lead Milwaukee Marquette High School to two WISAA state championships and one runner-up finish during his prep career from 1986 to '89, was named a two-time Parade Magazine All-American and played for the U.S. Under-15 through Under-18 national teams. Huwiler went on to play college soccer at Virginia under legendary coach Bruce Arena, winning NCAA championships with the Cavaliers in 1991 and '92, and was one of the top players on the U.S. Under-23 team that finished 1-1-1 at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He was part of the D.C. United side that won the inaugural Major League Soccer Cup and the U.S. Open Cup under Arena in 1996, and was with the Milwaukee Rampage when they won the USISL A-League title in 1997. Huwiler, who also had stints with the Richmond Kickers and Atlanta Ruckus and the Chicago Power (indoors), retired from professional soccer in 1998 but kept playing and won the USASA National Amateur Cup with Bavarian SC.
Since moving to the state in the late 1990s, Meersman has been a leader in the Wisconsin Soccer Referee Development Program and beyond. He implemented referee training programs at the club and district levels and served as the group's Director of Instruction from 1999 to 2008. The Delavan resident, who has officiated more than 2,500 games since he started as a referee in 1988, became a National Referee Instructor in 2010 and has been an Education Resources Advisor to the National Referee Program since 2012 – in that role, he helps oversee the content of referee training materials. Meersman also manages all referee-related activities for the annual U.S. Youth Soccer Region II Championships, is one of four members of the USYS Referee Committee and in 2014 became one of the 16 members of the U.S. Soccer Federation's Referee Committee.
Arguably the best women's soccer player in state history, Osborne was a standout at every level. The Menomonee Falls native was a two-time WSCA Player of the Year and won two WISAA state titles at Waukesha Catholic Memorial High School, then helped Santa Clara win the NCAA championship as a freshman. She had 44 goals and 33 assists in her career with the Broncos, was twice named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and won the NCAA Honda Award as the nation's top player in 2004 following her senior season. Osborne earned her first cap with the U.S. women's national team in January 2004 and would go on to make 61 appearances, including at the 2007 Women's World Cup in China, and scored three goals in her international career. She played for FC Gold Pride in the inaugural 2009 Women's Professional Soccer season, then moved to the Boston Breakers and was a vital part of that organization on and off the field until returning to the Midwest to join the Chicago Red Stars when the National Women's Soccer League started in 2013. Osborne, who retired as a player in March 2014, had her number retired by both Santa Clara and the Breakers and was inducted into the West Coast Conference Hall of Honor in 2014. She is now an assistant athletic director at Santa Clara, and also works as a soccer analyst for Fox Sports.
A Milwaukee native, Podewils' involvement in soccer started when he coached his daughter's Under-10 team with the Milwaukee Kickers. He ended up serving on the board at FC Milwaukee Kickers as treasurer and president, then had stints in the same two positions for WYSA between 1992 and 2006. During Podewils' tenure with the state organization, he helped implement the group's coaching pass and licensing system, oversaw an increase in WYSA's financial stability and hired the organization's first full-time executive director. Since 2006, the Wauwatosa resident has been on the U.S. Youth Soccer Board of Directors as the Region II Chair/Representative, and he helped develop the Region II Olympic Development Programs, the Midwest Regional League and the Presidents Cup. Podewils also led administrative innovations for the state and region, introducing online registration, credit card payments and social media.
The youngest of the three soccer-playing Spielmann brothers, Jim followed in the footsteps of older brothers Bob and John and starred for the Bavarians during his youth career before heading to UW-Parkside. The playmaking central midfielder helped the Rangers win NAIA district titles from 1981 through '84, earned All-American honors in 1982 and '83 and was the team captain and team MVP as a senior in 1984 as Parkside earned its only NAIA national tournament berth. Spielmann then played for Racine SC in the WSA Major League, frequently serving as player-coach, and later coached at Racine Prairie School High School. Jim Spielmann is following his brothers once again – John, who passed away in January at the age of 67, was inducted into the WSA Hall of Fame in 1998 and Bob was enshrined in 2002.
Stebbins was a lethal goal scorer for the Kickers, Tosa City, Bavarians and Milwaukee King High School before playing at Notre Dame from 1987 to '90 – he was a team captain during his senior season for the Fighting Irish. He played 12 seasons of professional soccer, starting with the Milwaukee Wave indoors in 1991, but his most success came outdoors with the Milwaukee Rampage. In 1996, Stebbins led the USISL Select League with 21 goals and was named league MVP; he ended up scoring 53 goals in three stints with his hometown team, and was part of the club's 1997 A-League championship along with fellow inductee Huwiler. He made 26 appearances in Major League Soccer with the Dallas Burn (1997), Miami Fusion (1998) and Chicago Fire (1999), scoring six goals for the Fusion in 1998. His final two pro seasons were with the Rochester Rhinos – he joined the team late in the 2000 season and scored three goals in six regular-season matches and four more in six postseason games, including the opener in the Rhinos' 3-1 win over the Minnesota Thunder in the USL A-League final. Stebbins, who lives in Whitefish Bay, also was part of several Bavarians sides that won USASA national titles.
The Bisswurm Family, a presence on the Wisconsin soccer scene for more than 50 years, is this year's recipient. John "Hans" Bisswurm, Sr., started the tradition by playing for Bavarian SC. He also served as the club's president and youth coordinator, and was inducted into the WSA Hall of Fame in 1997. Subsequent generations of the Bisswurm family have been involved with the Bavarians and other Milwaukee-area clubs, helped launch and coach the Waukesha Catholic Memorial boys soccer program and played for the UW-Milwaukee men's program and several area high schools.