North has had its share of exceptional legacies, one of them is the sport of soccer. In the past, there have been four head varsity boys soccer coaches, each leaving their own personal touch, style and impression on the program.
It all started with Coach Al Trost, followed by coaches Verne LeClaire, Ray Stahl and Abe Raziq. This 2011-12 school year marks the 40th anniversary since McCluer North first opened its doors in 1971.
In celebration of this milestone, these four coaches were asked to return to the halls they once knew ever so well for a photo shoot in August. Former McCluer North teacher, Mr. Weis, is currently designing a photography project to commemorate the special occasion later this fall.
“I’ve enjoyed coming back, lots of great memories,” said Coach Trost, who was the first McCluer North soccer coach. The team had its first season back in 1972, the second year the school was open. Back then, soccer was actually a winter sport. Trost is the only coach to win a state championship (1975) for boys soccer in McCluer North’s history.
Trost, who played for the United States national team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, is in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame and was, at one time, one of the nation’s best pro players. He retired after six years of coaching, from 1972-1977.
Coach Trost first got LeClaire involved as a sophomore coach in 1974. LeClaire taught high school field biology at Little Creek, and one day Trost approached him with the coaching proposition. LeClaire thought he was kidding, but accepted the job when he realized Trost was serious.
“Trost left a legacy,” LeClaire said. “He was a hard act to follow, and he left the program in great shape. Our tradition of soccer didn’t change. We stayed strong. We simply just reloaded.” LeClaire relinquished the reins of varsity soccer after just three years of coaching.
A new coach came along starting the 1981 season. Coach Stahl, a teacher at McCluer, was able to grasp the varsity head-coaching job.
“It was a great opportunity,” Stahl said. “I knew the caliber in the players, and I was happy to get the job.”
Although never acquiring a state championship here, Stahl’s teams would take second place in 1983 in a 1-0 loss to CBC, third place in 1987, the quarterfinals in 1992 and made it to the state tournament in 1997, but was knocked out by CBC again. His teams claimed seven conference titles and six district titles in the 80s. Stahl eventually took over the girls varsity coaching job as well. He coached the boys team for 18 years, from 1981-1998, and the girls team for 15 years, 1996-2011.
Abe Raziq was next on the list to become the head varsity coach. He coached the boys teams for 11 years (1999-2009).
“It was a huge honor,” Raziq said. “Stahl could always give me advice, and answer any of my questions. He’s the most prepared coach I’ve met.” Raziq wanted to carry on the tradition, and also emphasize having pride. He spent a lot of time promoting how to be successful and teaching his players to have good work habits. This way, Raziq was able to put his own unique stamp on the soccer program, just as the previous coaches did as well. After the 2009-2010 school year, Raziq left to become the athletic director at Ritenour High School.
McCluer North has kept its soccer program and other sports well tended. And it’s no wonder how accomplished North has become with coaches like these. North may be one of the younger high schools around, but holds the second most state championships out of the Ferg-Flor and Hazelwood school districts, with only Hazelwood Central, the oldest school, ahead.