Len Oliver, soccer Corridor of Famer and D.C. teaching mentor, dies at 88


Len Oliver, a Nationwide Soccer Corridor of Fame member who mentored hundreds of aspiring coaches and was a fixture within the D.C. space soccer scene for many years, died Sunday in Washington. He was 88.

His daughter Erika Jerram mentioned the trigger was problems from a current stroke.

In 2016, Mr. Oliver pledged, upon demise, to donate his brain and spinal cord to the Concussion Legacy Basis, which research mind trauma in former athletes.

On the time, he was believed to be the oldest particular person to determine to donate to the muse. Despite the fact that he didn’t have signs according to these of former athletes who developed dementia and persistent traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Mr. Oliver confused the significance of researchers inspecting brains of those that competed a few years earlier than the lasting results of head accidents grew to become prevalent.

“Take an outdated man. Take a man who has been within the sport his whole life and have a look,” he mentioned in 2016. “If there’s nothing there, good.”

Bruce Murray spent years heading the ball. He worries it took a toll.

Mr. Oliver was a daily at Washington Diplomats matches at RFK Stadium within the 1970s and have become a D.C. United season ticket holder when MLS launched in 1996. On the stadium, he typically bumped into former pupils who took his nationwide teaching course. Over greater than 30 years, some 5,000 passed his courses and entered youth teaching ranks.

“That’s the most great a part of educating: Individuals come up and say, ‘I took your course and it made a distinction in what I do in soccer,’ ” Mr. Oliver mentioned in 2014.

He was a longtime director of teaching for DC Stoddert Soccer, a big youth group now often called DC Soccer Club.

To additional the profession of youth gamers, he typically despatched handwritten letters of advice to school coaches, former Georgetown males’s coach Keith Tabatznik mentioned. “Perhaps the final of his form in that regard,” Tabatznik mentioned.

Even after leaving Georgetown, Tabatznik mentioned, he continued receiving these notes, as a result of Mr. Oliver “knew I would be capable to assist the child.”

Mr. Oliver was a local of Philadelphia, the place he and his twin brother Jim performed soccer in a rundown neighborhood cemetery. After graduating from Temple College in 1955, he served within the U.S. Military and, whereas stationed abroad, represented an armed forces soccer workforce that toured Europe.

Shortly after arriving at a U.S. base in Dangerous Aibling, Germany, Mr. Oliver wandered into city and located everybody on the native subject. After the sport, he launched himself to the organizers and mentioned, “I play soccer!”

They laughed and mentioned, “No manner, you’re an ‘Ami’ [American] — you imply American soccer,” and mimed a quarterback throwing a cross.

He insisted, “No, I play soccer,” pointing to the soccer ball.

His dribbling impressed the group, so he was instructed he may play for the B workforce.

The next week, he scored six targets and was promoted to the A squad.

Upon returning stateside, Mr. Oliver performed within the semipro American Soccer League for groups reminiscent of Philadelphia Uhrik Truckers and Baltimore Pompeii. As a part of the association to play in Baltimore, he was promised that, after each match, he may eat as many steamed crabs as he needed for no cost at Bud Paolino’s Restaurant on East Lombard Avenue.

When the Baltimore membership folded, he joined Washington’s Central Valet.

Mr. Oliver was an alternate on the 1952 U.S. Olympic workforce. Accidents and an sickness ended his hopes of creating the 1956 and ’60 squads, respectively. He performed on the 1963 Pan American Video games workforce in Brazil.

He moved to Washington in 1960 to take a job with the CIA. He held a graduate diploma from the College of Maryland and a PhD from the College of Chicago. After working for the Nationwide Endowment for the Humanities, he launched Oliver Associates, which educated leaders in nationwide commerce unions.

Mr. Oliver stopped taking part in aggressive soccer in 1966 however continued competing in grownup leagues.

“He was a midfielder on the sector and in life, and cherished directing the play from the middle of the motion,” his daughter Erika mentioned. “He performed wherever and for no matter workforce would let him.”

He earned the best U.S. teaching licenses, then taught programs that ready others for the sector.

“He by no means actually retired,” his spouse, Eleanor, mentioned. “His clientele did.”

In 1981, Mr. Oliver was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Temple, the place he was a three-time all-American in soccer and captained the baseball workforce.

In 1996, he was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. 5 years later, he based the Virginia-DC Soccer Hall of Fame and was a member of the primary class of inductees.

“I simply cherished the sport,” he wrote in 2019. “By persevering with to hunt any alternative to play and simply staying in our recreation of soccer, I achieved my targets. However the true rewards are the occasions and other people I met alongside the way in which.”

Survivors embody his spouse of 60 years, the previous Eleanor Wahlbrinck; two daughters, Erika and Britt-Karin; and two granddaughters. Particulars of a memorial service are pending.

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