A former professional soccer player from St. Jacob will be honored twice in the next three weeks — once for his accomplishments on the field on once for his dedication off of it.
Joe Reiniger, a standout with the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s soccer program, will be among the eight individuals and two teams inducted into the SIUE Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 19.
“I am excited about it, and I am honored to be put into a Hall of Fame with such a rich history,” Reiniger said. “It is a great honor for me, and for my teammates as well, because you have to have good teammates around you to be successful.”
Reiniger was one of the most decorated players to come out of the SIUE. He is the No. 4 all-time scorer, tallying 37 goals and 19 assists from 1989 to 1992. He led the Cougars in goals scored in three of his four seasons.
Reiniger went on to have a professional career filled with accolades. He played forward for the St. Louis Ambush, Milwaukee Wave and the St. Louis Steamers. He was selected in the first round of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) amateur draft by the Ambush in 1993, and was named to the 1993-94 NPSL All-Rookie Team. While playing with the Wave, he was the MVP of the 2001 NPSL Championship. He played 13 seasons of professional indoor soccer and was a six-time NPSL/MISL All-Star, scoring more than 600 career goals and 1,300 points in his professional soccer career.
His scoring prowess included a point scoring streak of 105 consecutive games, which is the equivalent of more than 2 1/2 seasons with at least either a goal or an assist in every game.
“I was fortunate to have a great career, and I didn’t really appreciate it until I was away from the game. I played my last professional game in May 2006, so it has now been over nine years,” Reiniger said. “When I look back, one of my proudest accomplishments individually was my consistency. That 105-game point streak is one of the biggest things I ever did, and I am very proud of it.”
Reiniger grew up the youngest of nine children in Caseyville.
“I was always playing against my older brothers, so I always had to work hard,” he said. “That became like a life lesson for me, because I had to work hard from the beginning to have success, and it made me better. As I got older, I don’t ever remember not wanting to go to practice, because I liked it and wanted to get better. It didn’t seem like work to me then.
“You have to make it fun, that’s the most important thing.”
Reiniger continues to share his knowledge, love and enthusiasm for the game in his work with the Gateway Futbol Club, a select soccer club headquartered in Troy.
“The primary goal of our club is to give kids opportunities to play, have fun and get college exposure,” Reiniger said.
The club now has 36 teams.
“You always want to give back to the game that gave you so much, and I love giving kids the opportunity to play the game I love,” he said. “I have a daughter, Jordan, who now plays, and I love seeing her enjoy the game and progress. We continue to attract good kids and families.”
For his work with the Gateway Futbol Club, the Bob Emig Foundation will recognize Reiniger at its Celebrating Leaders in Youth Sports event on Oct. 1 in St. Louis. It’s quite an honor, Reiniger said, but it’s not all his.
“I have great people involved working with me, such as great coaches, to help provide kids with a quality option in this great game,” he said.
Bob Emig Foundation
The Bob Emig Foundation Celebrating Leaders in Youth Sports event to be held Thursday, Oct. 1 at Horizon at Harry’s in downtown St. Louis.
Tickets for the event are $100 per person or $800 for a group of 10, and include beer, wine, martini bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres.
Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available through Camille at the Bob Emig Foundation (618) 343-2898 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The master of ceremonies for the event will be Joe Wiley, former St. Louis University basketball star and sports analyst. Special guest is former St. Louis Cardinal Kerry Robinson, who currently serves as a Cardinals’ scout.
The event proceeds will benefit the Bob Emig Foundation, named for the late Bob Emig, an area sportswriter and a leader in developing youth through participation in sports.
The event will benefit a number of area youth organizations.
SIUE Hall of Fame
The SIUE Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be inducted on Saturday, Sept. 19 at SIUE’s Meridian Ballroom, located in the Morris University Center.
Reservations for the event can be made by contacting SIUE Athletics at (618) 650-2428. Tickets are $30 and include a social for the inductees to be held at 5:30 p.m. followed by the induction ceremony at 6:30 p.m.