50 years of HS soccer under the lights links back to influential Minnehaha coach

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It was 50 years ago this week the first high school soccer game was played under lights in Minnesota. But even more significant than the lights is one of the coaches who helped introduce soccer to the entire state.

As White Bear Lake and Minnehaha Academy prepared to square off Thursday night, Guido Kauls greeted some of his former German students and soccer players. It was Kauls, from Latvia along with a handful of friends, who started the first four organized high school soccer teams in Minneapolis in 1961.

“When we started soccer it was mainly language teachers and we played in Germany or Austria or wherever,” said Kauls. “I knew something about soccer, most of us were not good soccer players.”

Richard Veth and Greg Pratt remember playing on Kauls’ Minnehaha Academy team and playing under lights for the first time at White Bear Lake High School on September 30, 1967.

“This was the first varsity game I played in and my parents came and under the lights, so it was a big deal to me,” said Pratt, class of 1970.

Throughout his 40-year coaching career, Kauls went on to be inducted in State Soccer Coach Hall of Fame and Soccer Association Hall Fame along with being named Coach of the Year for both Minnesota and the nation. He also formed the first Minnehaha girls’ soccer team in 1977. His influence on the sport is undeniable.

“I always thought he knew so much soccer and we were rather ignorant the way I took it,” said Veth, class of 1967. “He was so patient with people, and players like me that weren't that good.

So as 50 years under the lights is celebrated, players, parents and fans have this 82-year-old on the sideline - as often as he can - to thank.

“I'm humbled more than anything else,” said Kauls. “I didn't do anything special. I did what I enjoyed doing.”