Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Werner Fricker Builder Award Dinner Welcome
U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting
Saturday, February 16, 2019
“The Excellence We Honor”
Good evening everyone! And welcome—all of you, members, partners and friends—to our annual Werner Fricker Builder Award Dinner.
Those of you who knew Werner know his life and legacy. As a midfielder for the United German Hungarians of Philadelphia, as a member of our 1964 U.S. Olympic Team, as a president of U.S. Soccer, and as a major force in bringing the 1994 World Cup to the United States, Werner Fricker help make soccer in America what it is today.
As such, the Werner Fricker Builder Award is the highest honor that U.S. Soccer bestows. Nominations are reviewed by a dedicated task force, and I want to thank chair Evelyn Gill and the task force members for their time and diligence. We do not bestow this prestigious award every year. Indeed, there have been years when we have not. We only do so when we believe than an individual or a group of individuals meets our rigorous criteria, including an impact that leaves a truly lasting legacy on the game.
Since the first award was presented to Werner Fricker himself in 2002, only 15 men and women have been accorded this honor, some of whom are here this evening and whom we’ll recognize later in the program.
Tonight, we present the Werner Fricker Builder Award for only the 16th time—to a pioneer of the Women’s game, a World Cup champion, an Olympic Gold-winning coach, youth technical director, and a Hall of Famer who across her extraordinary 30-year year has been instrumental in the unparalleled success of our National Women’s Team programs—the great April Heinrichs.
Now, we’ll honor April’s excellence on and off the field throughout the evening. I’ll just share one story. April’s competitive streak is legendary. She once said, “I am the most competitive person I’ve ever met!” In fact, I understand that when she was in high school, she injured her ankle. Finally out of her cast, she went jogging with her coach. But I guess April must have felt her coach was going easy on her as she recovered. Because, after jogging for a little while, she turned to her coach, grabbed him by his shirt, and yelled, “Sprint!” And he did!
That’s the spirit, the relentless drive and the excellence we honor tonight. And I have to point out that, after Anson Dorrance, Mary Harvey and Tony DiCicco, April is the fourth consecutive leader from the women’s game to receive this award.
Thank you all for being here. The program will resume after dinner. Enjoy your meal, and have a wonderful evening!