The Hermann Trophy is awarded annually by the Missouri Athletic Club to the top male and female college soccer players in the United States.
The “Heisman Trophy of soccer” was established in 1967 by Bob Hermann, 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. The award, named the Hermann Trophy, was originally given to the nation’s top collegiate men’s player. In 1988, a second Hermann Trophy was inaugurated to recognize the top women’s college player of the year. Mr. Hermann, a lifelong resident of St. Louis, is the founder and former owner of the St. Louis Stars soccer team, a now-defunct charter member of the NPSL. St. Louis has a long history as a major hotbed of soccer in the United States; in the first half of the 20th century, every U.S. World Cup team had a least one St. Louis player on its roster and 20 members of the National Soccer Hall of Fame are from the area. The Hermann Trophy has been awarded annually since 1967. In 1986, the Missouri Athletic Club [MAC] began naming an annual player of the year as a rival to the Hermann Trophy. Founded in 1903, the MAC is headquartered in downtown St. Louis and has included President Harry S. Truman, Stan Musial, Jack Buck [Daily Dose, February 17] and astronaut Alan Shepard as members. Then in 1996, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America [NSCAA] initiated its own annual player of the year award. Three years later, the NSCAA and MAC agreed to name a combined collegiate player of the year. Finally, beginning in 2002, the NSCAA/MAC and Hermann Trophy organization merged to create a unified trophy for the top male and female college soccer player in America.
The process of selecting a winner begins in mid-August, when a Preseason Watch List of the top 40 male and top 40 female Division I players from the previous season is released. In early October, a “Candidates We Missed” campaign is launched, providing college Sports Information Directors with the opportunity to nominate players who did not make the Preseason Watch List. Six weeks later, the semifinalists— the top 15 men and top 15 women—are announced, and the voting of Division I coaches begins. The fan vote also starts, and the coaches’ vote, combined with the fan vote, determines the winners and finalists. In mid-December, the top three women’s and top three men’s finalists are announced at the NCAA College Cup, and these six individuals are invited to an annual banquet held the second weekend in January at the Missouri Athletic Club, where the winners of the two awards are announced. Winners receive a ten-pound crystal replica soccer ball made by Tyrone Crystal of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
The winner of the inaugural men’s Hermann Trophy was Dov Markus, a forward from Long Island University. The first female winner was Central Florida’s Michelle Akers, who later starred for the U.S. National Team in Women’s World Cup victories in 1991 and 1999 and was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 1999. There have been four women who have won the Hermann Trophy twice; Mia Hamm [Daily Dose, May 10], Cindy Parlow, Christine Sinclair and Morgan Brian. The University of North Carolina has produced the most female winners, with six. Between 2009 and 2011, Stanford produced three different women’s Hermann winners while UNC boasted four straight winners—including Kristine Lilly, the most capped [soccer talk for “started the most games”] player in the history of the sport—from 1991 to 1994. Five men have won the Hermann Trophy twice, including Al Trost, Mike Seery, Mike Fisher, Patrick Mullins and Ken Snow, an Indiana University forward who won the trophy in his sophomore and senior years. Duke University has produced the most men’s winners, with six, and had four different Hermann recipients in five years from 1982 to 1986. Between 1969 and 1973, St. Louis University claimed five straight winners. Indiana and the University of Virginia have also had five men win the Hermann Trophy.
The original Hermann Trophy is on display in the Hermann Atrium located in the McDonnell Athletic Center at Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School—alma mater of Bob Hermann—in Ladue, Missouri. Mr. Hermann donated the original trophy in 2003.