Foundation Stories: The History of the Horst and Helen Richardson Scholarship

November 29,  2016
By: Taylor Miller

Horst Richardson, former head coach of the Men’s soccer team at Colorado College retired after 50 years of coaching in May of 2015. After a long career of serving as both a mentor and parent figure for his team, his former player Jay Engeln convinced him to initiate an NSCAA scholarship fund in his and his wife’s name; a scholarship awarded for the first time last year to a young and vibrant soccer coach by the name of Beverley Valencia who works to positively influence the lives of children within the Taos Native American Community.

Although Richardson dedicated half of a century to his career, soccer coaching was never a part of his plan. He started out as a German professor at the college but suddenly fell into a career of coaching that would impact future generations of players in a way he never anticipated.

“I was an immigrant from Germany and moved here when I was 13,” said Richardson.
“My experience with soccer began with playing street soccer when I was in Germany. I was basically adopted by an American soldier- a long story within itself- and learned English fluently when I came to the U.S. In college, I went to the University of California and played for their team. It was very unorganized. I played as a graduate student which was probably against NAIA rules in some way but all of that didn’t matter back in those days. It was a lot of fun, we enjoyed it.”

In 1965, Richardson was hired by Colorado College as a German professor. Although he had a fondness for soccer throughout his life, he never imagined the role it would play in his future.

“I began coaching soccer in 1965 and not at all by design,” said Richardson. “I was hired to teach German and fell into soccer coaching along the way. The coach was a local business person whose son was on the team. He didn’t want to coach his son, so he asked me to help. I began volunteering, and he said, ‘If you want the team you can have it!’”

The opportunity to take over the men’s soccer program was utterly unexpected; however, he did accept the position. In Richardson’s view, the program was about more than what could be accomplished on the field: it would be a chance to get involved with surrounding communities in need, a project that would strengthen the community and his team.

“Soccer is a vehicle to educate, teach, and serve young people,” said Richardson. “A lot of that is done through camps and service projects. A vast amount of graduates have come out of the Colorado College soccer program, and that has been a most gratifying endeavor. Throughout my time there we did numerous international tours. Through the game of soccer, I got to see the world. Those international trips are very memorable.”

After 50 years of experiencing the way soccer can touch the lives of others, Richardson agreed to set up the Horst and Helen Richardson scholarship to help other young soccer coaches create their own versions of that journey.

The parameters of the award are focused on serving the soccer community in the American southwest, which includes Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Colorado College has done various men’s soccer service projects for a number of Native American communities in this area; however they have been most heavily intertwined with the Taos community.

“Taos Pueblo has been the most prominent community we have worked with,” said Richardson. “Several of our players after graduation have worked with this community; one specifically named Ezra Bayles has been very notable. His involvement, suggestions, and nominations led us to honor Beverley Valencia as the first recipient of this award.”

Valencia is a youth coach within the Taos community who now plans to use the Horst and Helen Richardson scholarship in order to provide youth the opportunity to express themselves and develop life skills through local soccer camps. Through the fund, Richardson is giving young coaches such as Valencia further resources to benefit their respective communities.

Although Richardson’s career of coaching has come to a close, his involvement in serving his surrounding community still continues.

“Throughout my career I have hopefully touched the lives of a bunch of young men who have turned out to be okay, and we are very proud of that,” said Richardson. “We are eager to grow this fund to make it more substantial over time. We are committed to continue raising these funds to help these communities in the southwest.”

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