After his team plays on Stewart Field at Colorado College (October 10, 3:00 p.m.), Horst Richardson will celebrate his 50th year as head coach of the Colorado College men’s soccer program. Dubbed “Horstoberfest,” the event will honor a Division III coach with an impressive record (531-301-69). The celebration will take place in the El Pomar Sports Center (Adam F. Press Fitness Center).

Our record was six. As teenagers in the 1970s, we routinely snuck into El Pomar to play in the turf room. You could knock the ball off the wall by yourself, compete 1v1, or fit up to 8v8 before it felt like a phone booth.

On one snowy Saturday, we started a 3v3 game not long after the building opened and got kicked out by a student employee. We played another game and got kicked out again. Then we snuck into the room where they stored the wrestling mats and played for an hour. Long story short: We got kicked out by five different people that day. But we still played six games and let ourselves out moments before the janitor locked up for the night.

My memories of Horst predate our stolen scrimmages at El Pomar. He was part of the coaching staff at Artie Wachter’s Rocky Mountain Soccer Camp, and he had reels of World Cup soccer games for us to study at night. For an American soccer kid in the early ’70s, this was like sneaking Superman comics behind the Iron Curtain. Horst highlighted the creative details in those games. When we watched his Tigers play on Stewart Field every fall, we also saw talented, creative athletes from all over the world — John Monteiro (years in Brazil), John Grenardo (French Guiana), Kornel Simons (Germany), Dick Schulte (U.S.), and Andre Zarb-Cousin (Malta).

Horst fostered creativity and personality in his players, and he also produced German plays with CC students, blurring the line between stage and field. As high school seniors in Colorado Springs, we were lucky to have Horst coach us, and I was lucky to be part of his soccer camp coaching staff. That’s when I began to understand Horst’s appreciation for drama in soccer.

We were on day four of a camp at the Colorado School of Mines when he asked me who I was, so I replied, “Arthur Greengroin, the janitor around here.” Horst asked a number of questions to help entertain the kids and give me my cues to be clueless about soccer, particularly the bicycle kick. He built it up like a Broadway show finale, providing instructions until I eventually biked the ball into the net.

As a player for CC in the early ’80s, I heard the same taste for theatrics in Horst’s halftime speeches and explanations during training. He’d mention missed tackles and other technical details, but he sounded more like a director choreographing a performance. He taught us to recognize the moments in soccer that make it special. Then it was up to us to make the moments special ourselves. I’m eternally grateful for Horst’s lessons. You can go through the motions, or you can make it special (hint: shoot for the latter).

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