The MAC Hermann Trophy Gets Its Kicks Honoring Soccer’s Best
College Soccer’s Version of the Heisman Trophy Annually Honors the Top Male and Female Players
In 1967, Robert Hermann, the president of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) and the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the NPSL's successor, the North American Soccer League, established a trophy to annually recognize the top men's collegiate soccer player. The trophy, named the Hermann Trophy, has been awarded each year since 1967. In 1988, a second Hermann Trophy was inaugurated to recognize the top women's collegiate player of the year.
For more than a century, the Missouri Athletic Club has celebrated outstanding athletic achievement. During that same time, St. Louis built a reputation as the soccer capital of the United States. In 1986, those two traditions merged with the creation of the Missouri Athletic Club’s Collegiate Soccer Player of the Year.
For more than two decades, the Missouri Athletic Club has been able to establish college soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy. The winners have led their teams to NCAA Division I titles and starred in international competition. The MAC has honored some of the biggest names in American soccer history. Tony Meola, John Harkes, Cladio Reyna and Alexi Lalas are a few of the past winners to visit the MAC to claim the prestigious crystal soccer ball trophy.
In 1991, a women’s award was created. The legendary Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini, who all helped grow the popularity of women’s soccer in the U.S., have won the MAC Award.
"The MAC Award is a confidence booster and has become synonymous with the No. 1 player in college soccer," said Meola. "The award continues to grow, and now it’s something that every player strives for."
For Alexi Lalas, the 1991 winner, the MAC Award was an important boost heading into the start of his professional career. "It made me feel good to leave college with that type of award. My being named the top college player really helped me prepare for my role with the U.S. National Team and my career as a professional player."
The MAC hosts an annual banquet to present the Hermann Trophy to the top male and top female player in college soccer. In recent years, the format has expanded to include the top three finalists. The player’s coaches and families are also invited to attend the awards banquet. "The MAC has created the perfect formula for presenting college soccer’s national awards," said Bruce Arena, former men's U.S. National Team coach. "The MAC does an excellent job bringing in the players, their families and coaches to St. Louis for the national press conference and the prestigious awards program."
The annual awards banquet brings soccer fans coming back. The event is always a sellout, and a key has been the quality of personalities from around the sports world the event has been able to attract. Jack Buck, Chris Berman, Dan Dierdorf, Bruce Arena, Brandi Chastain, Tommy Lasorda, Bob Ley, Hope Solo and Eric Wynalda are just a few of the sports personalities who have helped make the awards banquet an event to remember.