Albie Loeffler — founder of the Staples boys soccer program — is the newest member of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.
Mr. Loeffler — who died in 2009, 1 day before his 94th birthday — will be inducted at a special dinner on Monday, October 17, at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich. Five other figures, including longtime NBA player John Bagley, NBA official Bennett Salvatore and Harding High School basketball coach Charlie Bentley, will also be honored. Mr. Loeffler has a hoops connection with them: In addition to soccer, he coached basketball (and baseball and track) at Staples.
Mr. Loeffler began his physical education teaching career at Staples in 1952 — following 10 years at Ellsworth Memorial High School, where he won state championships in soccer and basketball.
In 1957 — after 5 years at Staples — he heeded the requests of several students who had played soccer in elementary and junior high school to form a high school team. Mr. Loeffler — who grew up in Bloomfield — had been a goalkeeper at the University of Connecticut in the 1930s. The club team became a varsity squad the following year.
He retired in 1978 with a then-national record 314 wins. His teams won 13 FCIAC championships — including 5 in a row — and 7 state titles (including a then-national record 5 in a row). Over 100 of his players went on to play college soccer; many became captains, and several enjoyed professional careers.
When Mr. Loeffler retired, he was a 2-time National Coach of the Year. His teams had recorded 25 consecutive shutouts; gone 43 straight games without a loss; lost just 2 home games in the entire stretch between 1965 and 1975 (including post-season play) — and won the division championship every single year.
Mr. Loeffler is a member of the United States Soccer Hall of Fame as a referee. One of the premier soccer officials in the nation, he refereed the 1st-ever 2-man system college game, as well as the very 1st NCAA Division I finals, and co-wrote the national soccer officials’ handbook.
In 1998 the Staples soccer field was named Albie Loeffler Field. The following year he became one of the 13 inaugural members of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame.
The Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame is located at the University of Connecticut-Stamford. Previous inductees include Kristine Lilly, Calvin Murphy, Steve Young, Bobby Valentine, Mo Vaughn, Dorothy Hamill, Bruce Jenner, Bill Toomey, Joan Joyce and Ralph King.
(Click below for a video of current head coach Dan Woog discussing Mr. Loeffler at the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame press conference.)