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Faithful Fan | Good sports honor Catholic couple and their charities

The sports community in St. Louis, especially devotees to soccer, and family and friends came through last month to raise funds for three charities in the name of a special couple dedicated to their Catholic faith and to soccer.

KSDK-TV Sports Director Frank Cusumano led the online Talking the Best of St. Louis Athletes with a panel that included fellow broadcasters Mike Claiborne, Bill McDermott and Randy Karraker. They raised funds for St. Patrick Center, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Marygrove in honor of Bill and Pat Olwig, who died of COVID-19 less than an hour apart May 1. Bill, who grew up in St. Philip Neri Parish and attended DeAndreis and Laboure high schools, was 85 and Pat, who grew up in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and attended Laboure High School, was 83.

The Olwigs were known for cherishing their Catholic faith and being active parishioners at St. Ferdinand in Florissant and then St. Joseph in Cottleville. Among other things, Bill supported the St. Vincent de Paul Society and was always willing to help anyone in need. Pat was a longtime volunteer, a supporter of Marygrove and an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist.

Joe Olwig, one of Bill and Pat’s seven children, said the evening’s responses to Cusumano’s picks included call-ins from Al Trost, a U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer from St. Louis and former Saint Louis University Billiken who was awarded the Hermann Trophy twice as the best college player; and Mike Sorber, a Hermann Award finalist at SLU who was a U.S. national team player. “Everybody had an opinion on the best player,” Joe Olwig said.

The program raised more than $15,000. “The charities were special to my parents as they were longtime donors and participants, especially with SVDP and Marygrove,” Joe Olwig said. “Our parents were very generous and they instilled in all of their children to be giving, helping those in need.”

Bill and Pat Olwig watched a lot of soccer games over the years, starting with the oldest son, Bill, playing at St. Ferdinand Parish in the CYC sports program. The Olwigs later took in their children’s games at Aquinas High School and then at area colleges.

Bill McDermott, known nationally for his soccer broadcasting, knew Bill and Pat from Saint Louis University (Joe played soccer at SLU) and other soccer events. The fundraiser was “a great way to honor their memory,” McDermott said.

Just naming the top 10 athletes from St. Louis who played soccer is hard enough, McDermott said.

His list includes Frank Borghi, goalkeeper on the 1950 USA World Cup team that defeated England, who, in the words of Harry Keough, “won the game for us.” And there’s Keough, soccer “royalty” in St. Louis who played the game differently because he saw the game differently, McDermott said.

Included is Lori Chalupny, with more than 100 international matches for her country who returned to the national team after a long absence because of concussion issues to be a member of the 2015 World Cup winning team. Becky Sauerbrunn, with 177 international matches for her country, won a gold medal at the Olympics and two World Cups.

“Then of course Al Trost and Pat McBride. Any discussion of the best players in St. Louis soccer history will include many players but these two will always be on anyone’s list. Both St. Louis stories begin with playing in the CYC, as is the case with so many St. Louis greats,” McDermott said.

Others in his top 10 were Bobby Kehoe, Brad Davis, Carl Gentile and Taylor Twellman. “It was an impossible task but I tried to cover different eras,” McDermott explained.

Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.

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