Share This Page

Soccer star Churchill to be inducted into Quaker Valley Hall of Fame

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

If 5-year-old Chris Churchill had his way, he never would have ever stepped foot on the soccer field.

But it turns out his mother knew best.

“She forced me to do it,” Churchill said. “I didn't want to go, but I went to the first practice and then the second then the third. I eventually fell in love with the sport.”

Churchill became one of the most decorated soccer players in Quaker Valley history and continued his playing career at Penn State before settling at Pitt. Due to his vast accomplishments, Churchill is being inducted to the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 2013 class.

“It is an unbelievable honor,” Churchill said. “I am truly humbled and looking forward to a great weekend when everyone gets together for the induction.

“Soccer is a team sport. Anything I achieved was a byproduct of the success we had as a team. I wouldn't be here without everyone else.”

Churchill was a three-year starter as a defender and served as team captain his junior and senior seasons. For three seasons, he was selected all-section and all-WPIAL. He was named all-state his junior and senior seasons.

“He was always a leader,” Quaker Valley coach Gene Klein said. “He was the guy who got everyone going. He was the guy who picked up the intensity.”

Churchill played during one of the greatest time periods in Quaker Valley soccer history. During his four years with the program, the team claimed three PIAA championships (1993, 1995, 1996) and two WPIAL titles (1993, 1996).

The undefeated 1996 squad — which was recently inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame — was selected as the top team in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The team won 26 games — including 21 shutouts — as it claimed its second straight PIAA title.

“We knew we were in the midst of something magical,” Churchill said of the season. “It was the byproduct of the years of work we put in. We all played together since we were 5 years old.

“We are all still very close. We were lucky enough to get together for the WPIAL Hall of Fame this year.”

After the 1996 season, Churchill was chosen as a National All-American by the NSCAA. He finished his high school career with 50 goals and 22 assists.

“He probably could have played anywhere in the field for us, but his ability to read the game from behind and pick his spots and move forward made him a strong defender,” Klein said. “He was really effective at shooting from a distance. He scored some great and timely goals for us.”

After graduating, Churchill continued his playing career at Penn State after falling in love with the area and the chance to play in the Big Ten. He played in 10 games as a freshman and recorded two goals and an assist. After redshirting the 1998 season, he returned for his sophomore campaign and played in 12 games with five shots on goal.

Despite enjoying his time in State College, Churchill decided to transfer to Pitt before his junior season and became an impact player. He was a two-year starter with the Panthers, earning All-Big East and Regional All-American honors. He helped lead Pitt as high as No. 7 in the national ranking.

Churchill finished with 12 game-winning goals during his college career.

“(Pitt) has a great group of talent,” Churchill said. “I knew a lot of the guys from playing in the Pittsburgh area and felt comfortable right away. The greatest memory from my time at Pitt was upsetting St. Johns in New York. They were ranked No. 2 at the time. That is when you knew something special was going on with the team.”

After graduating from Pitt, Churchill earned his master's degree from Rollins University. While completing his education, he served as an assistant coach with the Tars and helped them claim their first conference title.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.