ALTON —When he was a student at Lewis and Clark Community College, Brian Hoener made the trip back and forth across the Mississippi River from his home in North St. Louis County. Some 18 years later, Hoener will soon begin making those trips again.
A couple things have changed, since then. It’s a new Clark Bridge snow – and he has a new reason for crossing it into Alton.
Hoener, the women’s soccer coach at Fontbonne University and a former Lewis and Clark Trailblazers player, has been named the new girls soccer coach at Marquette Catholic High School. The announcement was made Monday afternoon during a news conference at MCHS.
“I remember crossing the old bridge every day,” Hoener said. “I’m excited to have a new reason to cross it.”
Hoener will continue as women’s coach, an assistant men’s coach and assistant athletic director at Fontbonne. The high school-college crossover is possible because girls prep soccer in Illinois is played in spring, while the college women’s season takes place in the fall.
Hoener replaces Steve Mitchell, who resigned earlier this year after five seasons as the Marquette girls soccer coach. In those five seasons, Mitchell guided the explorers to a pair of third-place finishes at the IHSA CLass 1A level. Marquette won the 2011 state championship under Mitchell’s predecessor, Rob Moginot.
“In the NCAA Division II level (at Fontbonne), we are only allowed 16 practice dates in the spring,” Hoener said. “My only concern is not making my wife too mad because of all the practices and games. But she’s totally on board with the decision. We’re very excited.”
Hoener has been selected as the SLIAC Men’s Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2013. Under Hoener’s leadership, Fontbonne men’s soccer team qualified for the SLIAC Tournament in each of his last 12 seasons at the helm.
“I’ve been intrigued about coaching high school girls soccer for a while,” said Hoener. “When I made the switch from coaching men at Fontbonne to coaching women, I found that the women are extremely coachable, they have a good work rate and they do well in the classroom.
“This is a really good fit, schedule-wise, proximity wise and it’s great to come to a school that has an established tradition of athletic excellence.”
Hoener is in his seventh season as women’s coach, served as men’s coach from 2000-2010 and coached both teams from 2011-2014.
Hoener played for a pair of area soccer coaching legends in high school in junior college in McCluer North’s Ray Stahl and Tim Rooney at LCCC.
“Being trained by two coaching legends has helped me a lot,” Hoener said. “Coach Stahl and ‘Roons’ taught me the right way to play and coach the game.”
Hoener played at LCCC in 1991 and 1992. A forward, he was an “excellent player,” according to LCCC coach Tim Rooney.
“Brian was just a really good, solid player,” Rooney said. “His work rate was great and he was extremely coachable.
“He carried that over to coaching, I think,” Rooney said. “He’s very good an recognizing his team’s talent and playing to it. He sees the game the right way. He’s very approachable by the players.
“We’ve sent several players (from LCCC) over there and they all really liked playing for him.”
“I believe in preparation and planning,” Hoener said. “And I like to develop those plans and tactics based on the players. You can’t make the players fit the plan, you have to make the plan around the players.”
Hoener has led Fontbonne to four St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season championships, two SLIAC Tournament championship sand three appearances in the NCAA Division III National Tournament with the men’s team. His men’s coaching record at Fontbonne is 155-107-33.
Hoener was selected as the SLIAC Men’s Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2013. Under Hoener, the Fontbonne men’s soccer team qualified for the SLIAC Tournament in each of his last 12 seasons.
“I think it’s important to teach student athletes how to become better soccer players,” Hoener said. “We definitely want to win games, but I want to develop the right culture here for the players.
“If, after four years, the players look at me as just a coach, I haven’t done my job properly. It’s important to let them know there’s more to life than soccer.”
By Pete Hayes - email@example.com