About the HOF
Pioneer of the Game
Class News
National Soccer HOF
Builder Class of 2005
Hank Steinbrecher
National Soccer HOF
Builder Class of 2006
Carla Overbeck
National Soccer HOF
Builder Class of 2007
Mia Hamm
National Soccer HOF
Builder Class of 2008
Coach Anson Dorrance
HOF Affiliates
Contact Us

North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame
2011 Pioneer of the Game

Bach Honored For Contributions
By Adam Thompson
New Bern Sun Journal (1-26-2011)

Recreational soccer fields were at a minimum around New Bern before Joe Bach arrived in 1988.

At that time, youth soccer teams had to share field time at the local high school with the varsity team.

Bach, a lifetime soccer enthusiast, saw 92 acres of land filled with corn and cotton.

Bach and some cohorts had a plan to develop those 92 acres into what is now Creekside Park on Old Airport Road in New Bern.

Bach, a vivacious 87-year old, has made a clear impact in Craven County as a longtime referee and contributor in youth soccer. He also was a board member for the New Bern Area Soccer Association.

Last weekend in Greensboro, Bach was honored by the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association with the "Pioneer of the Game" award, which recognizes "special contributions that a person makes to the growth and development of soccer at many levels."

Havelock native Jim Hoffer, who is a director and board member for the NCYSA, nominated and presented the award to Bach.

Bach, who attended the gala with his daughter Peggy and her husband Ed, his companion Alice Barrington, and his friend Dick Klotz, were treated to a weekend stay at the Sheraton Four Seasons in Greensboro, along with dinners and banquets.

To cap it off, Bach was handed a hefty trophy.

"It came as a surprise and I am very grateful," Bach said.

Bach's biggest contribution in Craven County was the development of Creekside Park.

In 1991, the retired U.S. Army colonel started a committee with Tyler Harris and Taylor Downey to plan out the Creekside Park project.

After the land was bought by the county for $250,000, Bach called Maj. Gen.
Michael Ryan over at Cherry Point air station.

Ryan sent two engineering squadrons to lay out the fields and infrastructure, as well as work on the drainage, electricity and roads.

The final project was to put up lights so that kids could play soccer in the evening. Bach was in charge of raising the money, which included seeing the naming rights of each soccer field.

The opening ceremony for Creekside Park was in 1997.

"We've planted the seed and it's sprouting," Bach said. "It's sprouted tremendously. When we laid out Creekside Park, we thought we had plenty of parking spaces. You go down there during the spring and the fall and you can't find any parking spaces."

Bach, who fought in World War II, has been involved with soccer for more than 60 years. He was a member of the first men's varsity soccer team at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1948.

In today's college athletics, players must be recruited. It wasn't like that when Bach played midfield for the Tar Heels.

"We were all World War II guys," he said. "We needed some activity and some athletic event. Instead of being a bunch of 18 year olds, like it is for more colleges now, we were all from 22 to 24 years of age. It was a very mature soccer team we had there."

From there, Bach moved to Albany, NY where he continued to officiate soccer games. He was a referee mainly for the youth to college level, but he did ref one international game ‹ Trinidad and Tobago against the Albany Capitals, a professional soccer team.

Bach moved back to Eastern North Carolina in 1988 where he continues to officiate about 60 to 70 games a year from ages 12 to 16 over at Creekside Park.

"It requires physical and athletic skills," Bach said. "You have got to be able to run as fast as the team you are officiating. It is very much a mental activity. You make split-second decisions and they cannot be contracted. You make a decision and you live with it. You obviously have to know the rules and you have to be certified every year."

Bach said that most of the kids playing at the high school level began playing over at Creekside. One of his biggest delights is watching one of those kids play in college.

"It's been a tremendous development here and it's spread throughout Eastern North Carolina," Bach said. "I've seen some of these kids progress in their skill levels and go on to college."

Bach said he no longer officiates high school games, but he continues to mentor the younger referees.

"It's very exciting to find someone that has the capabilities and try to help them with the game," Bach said. "One big problem we have here is that if we have a young guy, maybe he is 16 or 18, and he is out there officiating and his father and mother and adults out there may or may not like his calls are and they are berating him. We lose more referees because of the parents on the sidelines."

"We as mentors have to reinforce them that they have the will that they are totally in charge. If you don¹t like them on the sidelines, get rid of them."

Copyright © 2011, North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame