"After watching him serve the U.S. Soccer Federation through tremendous growth and prosperity over the last nine years, Hank informed me of his decision to step down last week," said President Contiguglia. "Hank's values, energy, passion and commitment to the sport of soccer in his time at the Federation has been a crucial element in the sport's rise to prominence in the 1990s. He is also a great friend. A search for his successor will begin immediately. In the meantime we will take advantage of Hank's skills and willingness to oversee a smooth transition in this management change at Soccer House. In the long-term, Hank will continue to serve the Federation as an advisor and ambassador for the sport."
A life-long soccer enthusiast, Steinbrecher brought a unique combination of soccer and corporate marketing experience to the Federation. As a player, coach, marketer, executive and, most importantly, a fan, of the beautiful game, Steinbrecher's mark on U.S. Soccer in the 90s is indelible.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the sport during the past decade," said Steinbrecher. "U.S. Soccer has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, and the past 10 years have truly been a labor of love for me. However, I now want to devote my time and attention to my family. I would like to thank Dr. Contiguglia and Alan Rothenberg, the two presidents whom I have served, for the opportunities afforded me over these nine years."
Steinbrecher and his wife, Ruth Anne, reside outside Chicago in Glen Ellyn, Ill., and have two sons, Chad and Corey.
A search committee formed to choose Steinbrecher's successor will be chaired by Conitguglia and includes U.S. Soccer's two immediate past presidents (Rothenberg and Werner Fricker) and Nike President Tom Clarke, as well as Athlete Representative Mary Harvey.
Under the vision of Steinbrecher, U.S. Soccer has experienced unprecedented growth both on and off the field. Since joining the Federation back on Nov. 5, 1990, the size of the full-time Federation staff has tripled, and is now over 100; the referee program has swelled to 100,000-plus members nationwide; the number of coaches has increased to more than 80,000; and U.S. Soccer's full-time coaching staff has grown from one to more than two dozen.
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, two programs designed to chart the future of developing world class men's and women's players in the U.S. The 52-year-old from Levittown, N.Y., 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. Both the 1994 and 1999 World Cup tournaments are considered by many to be the most successful FIFA tournaments of all-time.
Soccer House itself serves as a testament to the growth of the sport in this country and the managerial direction of Steinbrecher, who leased the historical mansions back in 1991 and refurbished the two homes to house the heartbeat of American soccer.
"It was important for us to establish an identity for the sport that both celebrated its past, but also highlighted its cutting-edge popularity among young athletes and globally thinking fans," said Steinbrecher. "By refurbishing the classic mansions and turning it into a great working environment, I think we accomplished a lot in setting expectations for our staff, fans, sponsors ... everyone involved with U.S. Soccer."
Another early move in Steinbrecher's tenure was to re-christen the sport's governing body with a fresh new logo and moniker. The United States Soccer Federation simply became known to fans and followers as U.S. Soccer, and the organizations old and busy logo was replaced with the now ubiquitous red-white-and-blue, shooting-ball logo.
"The new marks helped us create an identity," said Steinbrecher. "The vibrant logo was a must if we were going to convince people we were for real. The logo has become symbolic of our success."
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. As part of his day-to-day responsibilities, Steinbrecher was directly involved in developing U.S. Soccer's sponsorship programs and interfaced on a regular basis with key decision makers of U.S. Soccer's corporate partners.
After building the platform on which the Federation would stand, Steinbrecher turned toward a more tangible measuring stick: success on the field. 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 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.
With MLS debuting in 1996, the professional sport in this country had finally gone from the doldrums of not having seen a pro league since the demise of the North American Soccer League in 1984, to seeing a firmly entrenched league averaging crowds in the mid-teens, with 12 franchises surviving in their original cities, with responsive media coverage and strong sponsor support. Thanks in no small part to Steinbrecher, something almost impossible to envision in 1990 or even 1995 (a powerful, competitive and stable professional soccer league in the U.S.), is a reality today.
Under Steinbrecher's guidance, U.S. Soccer and MLS have partnered to see Nike Project-40 grow into a first choice option for young players looking to increase their professional stock by training in a professional environment every day: a crucial step in trying to achieve the goals of Project 2010.
As for the goals of Project Gold, Steinbrecher focused U.S. Soccer on the development of women's soccer and assisted the Federation's move to the forefront of women's athletic issues across the United States.
From the development of full-time residency programs for players, increased compensation for participation, full-time coaching positions and attention to detail like the development of the "nanny" program to help address the issue of full-time players that are also full-time mothers, under Steinbrecher's tutelage U.S. Soccer set revolutionary standards for other organizations to follow.
Prior to taking on the challenges of U.S. Soccer, Steinbrecher was the director of sports marketing at Quaker Oats, where he spearheaded Gatorade's rise to prominence in the 1980s. His first taste of the sports business, though, came a few years prior to Quaker Oats, when he served as the Harvard University soccer venue director during the 1984 Olympic Games.
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 national championship team Davis & Elkins, a small college soccer power in the mountains of West Virginia.
To continue his soccer career, Steinbrecher migrated toward coaching, where he compiled an impressive record at Appalachian State (1977-1979) and Boston University (1980-1985), both Division I programs. In his time on the touchline, his teams produced 14 All-Americans and 11 tournament teams.
An "A" licensed U.S. Soccer coach, Steinbrecher has served as a guest clinician for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and as Executive Director for the National Soccer Ranking Board of the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America. A graduate of Davis & Elkins College with a bachelor's degree in English, Steinbrecher earned a master's degree in education from West Virginia University in 1971.