For three of the inductees into the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the journey to the Hall began in Sedalia.
Sedalia natives Mike Howard, Chris Lawson and Eddie Horn will all be inducted in a ceremony Jan. 9. Howard and Horn both graduated from Smith-Cotton. Lawson graduated from Sacred Heart.
“It’s extremely humbling, especially for a guy that’s really never won anything before,” Horn said, comparing his accomplishments as Jefferson City coach to those of fellow inductees Ben Timson from Springfield Catholic and Lawson, who has won six state titles at Rockhurst and led the Hawklets to a third-place finish this year.
Lawson said he was humbled and honored to learn he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His Hawklets have 436 wins in 19 years.
Lawson and Howard also played together in club soccer and at State Fair Community College and were in each other’s weddings. Their club soccer coach with the Sedalia Blast was Horn.
Lawson said Horn and Howard have been a big part of the success Rockhurst has had. Jefferson City hosts a tournament every October which Lawson said has been a big part of getting his team ready for the post-season.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say being a part of the induction with those two guys is special to say the least,” Lawson said.
Howard said he will talk to Horn during the season to get scouting reports.
“I think that Eddie Horn, he’s probably the most influential person on me as far as coaching and playing of anyone I’ve known,” Howard said. “I lean on him quite a bit for advice and just conversation during the season.”
With more than 750 wins coaching boys and girls soccer, Howard is the sixth winningest soccer coach in Missouri. His boys teams at Rolla have won 395 games in 25 years.
“I’m not sure I belong there with these other people other than the fact that I’ve done it for a long time and been involved in the coaches association,” Howard said. “It’s quite an honor.”
Horn decided to get into coaching while he was still in college and started out with a U-19 team in Sedalia, the Sedalia Blast, put together by Jim and Judy Holman. The starting goalkeeper on that team was Howard. Lawson played defense.
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” Horn said. “They were both great players. Chris was a phenomenal goalkeeper. Mike was a great defender. Chris worked hard at his craft. The team was really good so I didn’t have to do a whole lot.”
Horn went on to be an assistant coach at Smith-Cotton. Though he graduated before S-C’s first Final Four trip in 1984, he was a part of the second when the Tigers went back in 1989 before moving on to Jeff City. He said his thirst to learn more about the game never waned.
“I always tried to seek out people who were smarter than I was and learn from them,” he said.
In order to learn more about the game, he talked to Terry Michler, who has won more than 900 games and seven state titles as the boys coach at CBC. He also connected with Jan Pruin who coaches with the Dutch national team and Tommy Howe of Sporting St. Louis. He was also selected by Umbro USA to travel to England to watch the Premier League’s West Ham United for 10 days.
“It’s been a long, windy road but I’ve been extremely blessed,” he said.
It’s a road that for all three started in Sedalia, from playing in the Paul Klover Soccer Association to playing for Tom Knight and Rich Bahner.
“We’re only three of many,” Lawson said. “I think it says a lot about the parents and the generation that supported soccer (in Sedalia) when we were kids. I felt that club soccer in Sedalia and high school soccer in Sedalia was so passionate and there was so much pride.”
“It’s really an amazing place,” Horn said. “When you look at the coaching tree and all the people that have been involved in the game and have Sedalia roots, it’s amazing that a town has really had such an impact on the soccer scene in Missouri. It’s hard to wrap my head around because when we were growing up, we never expected to have this impact.”
This fall, Lawson was one of three Sacred Heart alumni to coach soccer teams to the Final Four. His brother Dirk Lawson led O’Hara to a state title and Travis Cooper coached the Gremlins to a third-place finish for the second year in a row. Dirk Lawson will also be honored at the induction ceremony after he was named Class 2 Coach of the Year.
“I’m so proud of my younger brother Dirk,” Chris Lawson said. “My nephew is actually being recognized as the Assistant Coach of the Year for O’Hara. … It’s truly a moment to behold. I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to be there with them and celebrate with them.”
The induction will be hosted at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 9 at the PeachTree Banquet Center in Columbia. The ceremony will also honor All-State teams, including Smith-Cotton’s Roberto Ramirez, Carlos Aguirre, Landon Dove and Jordan Lawson, Sacred Heart’s Max Martin, Sebastian Aguero, Chance Spangler, Teagan Trammell and Francisco Rojas and Cole Camp’s Taylor Sullivan.