Pictured: Soccer coach Charlie Martel during halftime in 2013 (photo by Matt Sciuto).
Written by Ben Dattilo and Nathan Langhauser, sports editors
After 25 years as St. Louis U. High's varsity soccer coach, Charlie Martel has decided to step down from his position.
"There are several reasons I can give for stepping down as SLUH soccer coach," said Martel in an email interview with the Prep News. "First, I won my 500th game this season. Secondly, I was inducted into the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Thirdly, the 2017 Soccer Bills finished 5th in the State of Missouri and won 21 games. Because of these factors, I felt it was a fitting time to step down. I have many awesome memories that I can take with me into later life. I would also like some time now to spend more fully with my family and three sons."
"He had been reflecting on it for a while and when you've coached for 25 years at a place and then you start to think about all of the achievements, it's not an easy decision to make," said athletic director Chris Muskopf. "With the 25 years, 500 wins and the Hall of Fame induction he felt like it was the right time and I respect that."
Martel finishes his career with 514 wins, the Missouri soccer Hall of Fame induction, seventeen 20-plus win seasons, 18 district titles, and one state title. Martel was also named "National High School Soccer Coach of the Year" in 2003.
"One of my major priorities has been to treat each and every player with respect and to give each player the opportunity to contribute something of lasting value to the team," said Martel. "I have had two awesome assistant coaches, Terry Murray and Charlie Clark, and both of them have bought into this for the last 25 years. I also feel that my teams have always taken the field in a state of extreme fitness. One of my goals has been to never lose a game because the other team was more physically fit than us."
In addition to great assistants, Martel has had a plethora of talent and amazing athletic directors who have helped him achieve his goals as a coach.
"Finally, I have always wanted the SLUH soccer team to be one of the finest teams in the state year in and year out. I think, for the most part, this has been achieved," said Martel. "I am honored and overwhelmed to have been a part of this program and to have have spent such quality time with some of the finest young men I have ever met. I have been profoundly changed by the experience. I have nothing but the greatest respect for Dick Wehner and Chris Muskopf for all of the assistance and advice that they have given me over the years."
"First and foremost the action we have to take is to honor Coach Martel," said Muskopf. "We should let his story be to told and recognize his incredibly lengthy tenure and all the lives he's connected through his role as the soccer coach."
There has been no rush to search for a new coach, but Muskopf plans to start the search this spring to give the new coach time to get settled and start planning for the next season.
Martel has a message for future players:
"I would want the future soccer players to understand what SLUH soccer traditionally has been about. First, it should be seen as a great honor to wear the jersey. SLUH soccer has a great tradition and many gifted athletes have played here. Wearing the SLUH soccer jersey with pride is an honor and a privilege. Also, no matter what your role is on the team, be positive and give 100 percent. There are many ways to contribute to the success of a team. It's not just about playing time. Finally, be the guy who is a leader. Be that guy who focuses on the success of the team and the building up of the team concept. Create a memory that will stay with you for the rest of your life."