How Soccer Came to USMMA
How Soccer Came to USMMA
KINGS POINT, N.Y., Jan 11, 2021 -- Soccer has long been recognized as one of the world’s most popular sports, but it took the persistence of a 1940s U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) midshipman to bring soccer to Kings Point.
Seth Schneible, (pictured above holding the soccer ball) who sailed as a merchant mariner before heading to the Korean War as a Navy lieutenant, was in his final year at the Academy in the spring of 1948 when he decided to approach newly appointed Superintendent Vice Adm. Gordon McLintock about forming a soccer team at Kings Point. “I went to him and asked if he wanted a soccer team,” Schneible recalled during a recent video interview. He had found an interested party in McLintock, as the legendary merchant marine officer grew up playing soccer in Scotland. “He said, yeah, that’d be great.”
Not long after his chat with the Superintendent, Schneible made a lunchtime announcement to the rest of the regiment that USMMA was forming a soccer team. “We had about 50 guys who said they wanted to play soccer,” he told us.
With McLintock’s approval, and 50 interested players, you’d think Midshipman Schneible would have had an easy time moving the soccer project forward, but he ran into unexpected resistance from the athletic director, Cmdr. William Reinhart. “He didn’t want a soccer team,” he said of Reinhart, who was also the football coach at USMMA. “He said we don’t need a soccer team right now.”
Undeterred, Schneible gathered the names of the interested midshipmen and showed his sign-up sheet to McLintock. “I said, ‘You know, we have a lot of people interested in a soccer team.’ So (the Admiral) called Reinhart and told him to prepare the papers for registration in the New York league.”
When Schneible learned there was no money to outfit the team with uniforms and gear, he went to his advisor, Cmdr. Vic Tyson. “I have a friend named Babson,” Tyson told him. “He has a lot of money.” The implication was Mr. Babson might be interested in sponsoring the team. Schneible put together a list of the midshipmen who wanted to play, along with their shoe sizes, and sent it off to Babson with a written request for uniforms. In short order, a box full of uniforms arrived. “The uniforms were red and black, not the school colors,” Schneible chuckled.
Now that the new soccer team had shoes, shin guards, and uniforms, Midshipman Schneible went back to Cmdr. Reinhart to ask about getting a coach. He was told by Reinhart that the “registration” for the team had been lost. “I can’t find it,” Schneible recalls Reinhart telling him.
“One of the guys was dating (Reinhart’s) secretary,” Schneible continued. “She told me he had it under his blotter, on his desk. I went back to Reinhart and said, ‘Pick up your blotter, maybe it’s there.’” Schneible let out a hearty laugh at the memory. “So he picks up his blotter and there are the papers. I took them back to the Admiral, and he signed them and sent them in. And that’s how we started the soccer team.”
The new USMMA soccer team began practicing on Lower Roosevelt Field and some games were scheduled for the fall. American inexperience with soccer showed in the first half of the first match. “George, the timekeeper, was stopping the clock every time the ball went out of bounds,” said Schneible, referencing the soccer rule that the time clock keeps running. “So we had an adjustment at halftime and the second half went much better.”
Reminiscing about his Kings Point days of more than 70 years ago, Schneible recognizes the contribution of both Vic Tyson and Gordon McLintock. “I got very close to my advisor (Tyson). He was instrumental in getting us the equipment from Babson.” He added, “The Admiral (McLintock) also helped a lot.”
Tyson later served many years as USMMA Assistant Superintendent and McLintock stayed on as Superintendent for more than 22 years. To date, he is the Academy’s longest serving Superintendent.
Schneible graduated from USMMA in December of 1948 when the academy had mid-year graduations. After discharge from the Navy, he worked for many years as a marketing executive. Now retired, he lives in Bethlehem, Pa.
Thank you to the USMMA Alumni Association & Foundation for the 1948 yearbook photos of the first soccer team and MIDN First Class Seth Schneible.