Brett Jacquette can still picture the seats where Walter Bahr and his wife, Davies, would sit at Penn State home games during his playing days. Bahr, the former USMNT star and Penn State head coach was a regular in the stands during Jacquette’s days as a star midfielder for the Nittany Lions in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
“He sat in the same exact seats on the visitor side of the stands, he and his wife,” said Jacquette. “People knew where to find him.”
Bahr, who died a year ago at age 91, was an American soccer icon. The Philadelphia native captained the United States in the 1950 World Cup when they defeated England 1-0, played professionally with the Philadelphia Nationals, Uhrik Truckers and Philadelphia United German-Hungarians and ended up having a successful coaching career for the Philadelphia Spartans and with Temple and Penn State. He compiled a collegiate coaching record of 448-137-70.
His long legacy in the game led Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer to make the easy decision to name their U19 Boys State Cup trophy after him.
“Walter Bahr is one of the most influential figures in American and Pennsylvania soccer history as a player, coach, teacher and mentor,” Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer CEO Chris Branscome said in a news releasing announcing the trophy naming last month. “So many of our current coaches were impacted by Coach Bahr and continue to share his legacy with their players. He is a giant in our state.”
Jacquette, who got to know two of Bahr’s sons and coached one of his grandsons, is one of those many coaches impacted by Bahr. That he would end up coaching the team — Lower Merion SC Rats — that became the first to lift the Walter Bahr Trophy with a win in the state cup final on June 2 was fitting.
“It definitely had a bit more meaning for me going into it and I often try and echo some of the history that is forgotten with kids these days in regards to who paved the way,” said Jacquette, who was the recipient of the Walt Bahr scholarship his last two years at Penn State in 2001 and 2002.
The Rats won the state cup final 3-0 over Lehigh Valley United at PA Classics Park.
“It’s just a huge honor,” Rats captain Harrison Malone said in a news article on the EPYSA website. “We’ve been competing in (the State Cup) for a really long time. Every year, we’ve gone neck and neck with LVU and some other teams. To win it in our final year as a team, together, means a lot.”
Both The Rats and LVU had already qualified for the national championships through the National League so there’s more to come for both teams as they enjoy their last summer together before moving on to the college ranks.
“It’s neat for me to know these guys will forever be tied to that trophy,” Jacquette said. “I think it’s something you’d be proud of at any age group but for it to be their last opportunity to win a state cup it’s something they can look back on and remember fondly.”