Kids ages 8-16 can join Waukesha United free of charge
Five years ago, when Hansi Herzog was paralyzed by Guillain Barre Syndrome and faced the prospect of having to relearn how to walk, swallow and even breathe on his own, one burning desire inspired him to persevere.
"Through the ups and downs of rehabilitation, my goal of coaching kept me on task," Herzog, 57, said.
He got his wish.
Herzog has resumed coaching boys soccer at Pius XI High School in Milwaukee. (He has coached high school teams, including Waukesha South, for more than a decade). And he and his wife, Ingrid, both of Waukesha, have established a charity soccer club – Waukesha United – for underprivileged youth.
"For years we've thought that we wanted to give back," Ingrid Herzog said.
Now they have that chance.
Financially disadvantaged kids, ages 8-16, can join Waukesha United with zero out-of-pocket costs, Herzog said.
She estimated that the per player cost otherwise would be about $800.
The organization is hoping to field five teams, one each in the U8, U10, U13, U15 and U17 divisions, for the 2017 season, according to its website.
That season begins in fall, Herzog said, and Waukesha United will be affiliated with the Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association.
An exact game and practice scheduled is not yet available, but Herzog said the club will hold separate practices two days a week, Monday and Wednesday and Tuesday and Thursday, for different age groups.
"I'm getting almost daily emails from interested parties," she added.
Anyone interested in donating to Waukesha United can do so via its website, www.waukeshaunited.org, or in person at a May 21 open house for the organization at Chiropractic Care Center, 4080 N. Brookfield Road, in Brookfield.
It took Hansi Herzog, a former professional soccer player, two years to recover most of his old self after his sudden bout with Guillain Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune systems attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, very little is known about what sets GBS in motion, and there is no known cure for it.
But Herzog knows one thing for sure: he has soccer to thank for motivating him to battle back from the disorder. His old job at Pius was waiting for him.
"My husband has been in soccer all his life," Ingrid said. "What kept him going was that he was going to coach."
"Soccer saved my life," Hansi said.