December 4, 2020

The Sporting Insider: ‘Marty’s Moment’

Marty Todt is a simple man. He loves his wife, his three children and his five grandchildren. He loves Webster University and all the people he’s built relationships with in the last 25 years. He loves soccer. And after spending the past four years getting to know Marty, I can say with confidence that he loves Dr Pepper.

The Sporting Insider is a biweekly column by Journal copy chief & layout editor Josh Sellmeyer.

But there are a few things Marty doesn’t love. He hates soccer players who try to be superstars, who put individual accolades over the betterment of the team. He hates when the limelight shines squarely on him — he’d much rather share it with his coaches and players. And he hates awards.

OK, maybe he doesn’t hate awards, but he definitely downplays them. When he was named the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the sixth time this past November, he swiftly grabbed the plaque from SLIAC Commissioner Will Wolper, looked at his players and pointed at his coaching staff, as if to say, “This is about you guys.”

And when he was inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame in October 2011, he didn’t want to talk to Journal reporter John Pohl about what the honor meant to him. In fact, Marty told me it took four years of prodding from his soccer-loving friends for him to finally send in the required paperwork for induction into the Hall of Fame.

That’s just Marty. He loves talking about his past players and coaches, but he loathes talking about himself. He loves it when those close to him receive recognition for their work, but he hates it when he’s the one receiving recognition.

This makes it ironic that on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Grant Gymnasium, Marty will be the center of Webster’s attention. At halftime of the men’s basketball team’s game, which tips off at 3 p.m., Marty and two other Webster all-time greats will make up the fourth class enshrined into the Webster Athletics Hall of Fame.

Only “former players, coaches and other individuals” are supposed to be eligible for the Webster Athletics Hall of Fame, but I’m ecstatic the selection committee made an exception for Marty, who will be the men’s soccer associate head coach next season. Marty was always a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, so it’s better — and I’d argue more prestigious — to enshrine him now instead of waiting until he retires (which, knowing Marty, may never happen).

At some point during the Hall of Fame ceremony, Marty’s career accomplishments will be announced to the crowd. Accomplishments like 25 years as head coach of the Webster men’s soccer team, a 238-189-50 overall record, a 123-66-21 SLIAC record and five NCAA tournament appearances. All this attention will be enough to make Marty blush.

When I asked Marty what he thinks the moment of Hall of Fame enshrinement will be like for him on Saturday, this was his response:

“I think what it will do and what it will mean is a culmination of the years, family, friends, good people, players — that’s what’s most important to me. When you sit back and you’re able to reflect, you pray to God that you impacted each and every person in a positive way. And I think that’s kind of what it means most to me, is that it’s that culmination.

“Because when you think about why you did it and when you got involved in it, you just wanted to give back. … That’s really all I’ve ever wanted to do is just give players, give people that inspiration, that ability to take these things that we’re trying to teach and apply them to life — the loyalty, the trust, all those things. It’s about the higher good, not about an individual.”

On Saturday, it will be about an individual — three of them, actually. But Marty won’t see it that way. He’ll see his Hall of Fame induction as a reflection of the work his players and assistants have put in this last quarter-century.

If that seems simple, well, that’s simply Marty.

—Editor’s note: Josh Sellmeyer played on the men’s soccer team under Marty Todt from 2009 to 2012.

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