Though his impressive local resume would suggest otherwise, Carl Hutter Jr. seemed to have difficulty allowing the notion of his induction into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame to sink in.
Hutter, who was a member of the 1976 St. Louis Community College-Meramec national championship team, was one of two STLCC alums to be inducted on Saturday, joining Florissant Valley’s Mike O’Mara.
Hutter and O’Mara were two of the 11 former players, coaches and officials who received their Hall of Fame green jackets on Oct. 18, a class that also included former STLCC assistant men’s soccer coach Ed Cody Jr., who served under Dan O’Keefe during the 2012-13 seasons.
“I never really had visions of being in the Hall of Fame,” Hutter said. “I was really honored and surprised that I got this call. I never wondered if I would ever be here, but I’m certainly grateful that I was chosen.”
In addition to his contributions to Meramec, Hutter gained notoriety after his playing days for his role as a coach. His tenure on the sidelines began in 1982 at Harris-Stowe State University. He currently is the head coach at Lindenwood University, where he has won four regional titles and one national championship.
As for his championship garnered as a player at Meramec, Hutter recalls the bonds formed while a student-athlete at STLCC more than the title itself.
“We played for good people, in Pat McBride and Marty Todt,” Hutter said. “The friends and the relationships there, you keep those forever. Is it cool to win a championship? Absolutely. But because it’s hard to win a championship, with that it’s all about the memories and the relationships.”
The inductions of Hutter and O’Mara hearkened back to something of a golden era of soccer at STLCC. In addition to the 1976 championship for Meramec, Florissant Valley was in the midst of a run that would see them claim 10 national championships in a 23-year span under longtime coach Pete Sorber. Sorber was inducted into the SLSHOF in 1988. Sorber developed a healthy rivalry for area talent with McBride, longtime Meramec coach and 1987 Hall of Fame inductee.
O’Mara’s tenure at Florissant Valley spanned from 1978-79, near the height of the Sorber-led dynasty. He was a member of the 1979 national tournament runners-up.
“It was kind of like, whoever came out of the St. Louis area was going to be the top two teams in the country,” said O’Mara, a member of the St. Louis County Council since 2001. “There were times that Meramec, Florissant Valley and Forest Park were the top three teams in the nation.”
As for his own induction, O’Mara credited much of his stellar collegiate career to his former coach. Following the 1979 season, O’Mara was named a first-team all-conference performer, in addition to receiving NJCAA All-American honors before transferring to Saint Louis University. He completed his career professionally with the Kansas City Comets and St. Louis Steamers. O’Mara is also a member of the Florissant Valley Hall of Fame, inducted in 2001.
“Pete Sorber was my mentor, and a lot of credit goes to him,” O’Mara said of his induction. “There were times I was there and wished it was a four-year campus, because I would have loved to stay two more years and play for Pete.”
While the evening was an impressive gathering of soccer talent throughout the metro area, the spotlight shone every brightly on two members of arguably the most successful junior college soccer era in the region.
“Obviously, Meramec and Florissant Valley won national championships, but also, Forest Park had excellent teams and played in national finals,” Hutter said. “Those teams were like Division I teams. A lot of people played each other back then, and there were just a lot of outstanding players at those schools. They made a lot of history.”
For Hutter and O’Mara, Saturday added yet another chapter.
Cody, the former STLCC assistant coach, was a member of the Houston United and Houston Rangers soccer clubs. The United team was three-time league champion, a Texas Cup champion, and a three-time Challenge champion. The United Team was also state amateur and regional champions. While attending the University of Missouri, he was a member of the club champions. He also played for Cedar Inn and the Bombers in St. Louis, where they won a CYC league title.