Joseph ""Father of Soccer"" Gerlicki

Inducted: 2002

Best Known For: Coaching Soccer

In 1971 there was no soccer in McAllen. But then Joseph Gerlicki came to town, and the rest is history, as the town has become a hotbed for the sport.

Gerlicki founded the McAllen Soccer League in 1971, served as president of the organization for 15 years, and is known as the “Father of Soccer” in McAllen.

He grew up in Germany and started playing the game at age 8, continuing his passion after his family immigrated to the United States in 1951. He eventually began a long coaching career in Chicago and helped organize Mayor Richard Daley’s extensive youth program there.

In the Valley, Gerlicki coached teams at Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Paul Lutheran, drawing a number of players from Mexico. Before retiring in 1985, he brought a team from Germany to the Valley for an exhibition, tying the circle on a fantastic local career.