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NEWS
WALTER KIRCHNER INDUCTED INTO WOODSTOCK WALL OF FAME
Walter Kirchner (right) inducted into Woodstock Wall of Fame.

It’s been 28 years since Canadian-born Tim Ypma then a 12 year old, was coached by Walter Kirchner at St. Mary’s gym in Woodstock.

“I couldn’t skate very well, so my dad—and Walter, encouraged me to take up soccer and I’ve loved the game ever since, “ said Ypma, one of group of soccer pals on hand at a City of Woodstock Sports Wall of Fame induction Saturday to witness Walter Kirchner being honoured by his community.

Kirchner, 64, chief referee for the Canadian Professional Soccer League who brought soccer skills from his native Romania to settle in Southwestern Ontario in 1970, was inducted into the Wall of Fame as a ‘Builder of Sport’ along with three other individuals and an all-star hockey team from 1956-57.

Walter Kirchner is the first soccer individual to be inducted into the Woodstock Wall of Fame, with its impressive array of athletes, some of whom competed on the world stage.

Kirchner started organized soccer in Woodstock from scratch when, after learning enough English to persuade the municipality to convert a nearby field to a soccer pitch, he formed the Woodstock Soccer Club. (His first English teacher in Canada was Bill Gillespie, a basketball player who was also inducted on Saturday in the Male Athlete category and who was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.)

“I threatened to not pay my taxes if the city failed to come up with at least a patch so we could get the game going,” said a determined Kirchner while explaining how so much took place in the 70s.

He was president of the Woodstock club for four years then and took up refereeing at an early stage, an occupation that continues to be an important part of his life today with more than 150 indoor and outdoor games under his belt during the past year. He makes more than 500 game official appointments for the CPSL each season, a job he has been doing for 15 years while also Referee-in-Chief in the National Soccer League and Canadian National Soccer League, forerunners of the CPSL.

“But I also enjoy coaching and think women are easier to coach. They take the game very seriously, are very receptive and determined to master the skills,” said Kirchner who is presently coach of the Woodstock Senior Women.

Tim Ypma remembers his boyhood coaching sessions like it was yesterday. “Walter was firm – even tough. You had to get it right and we enjoyed that.”

Harry Gauss, coach and general manager of CPSL team London City, a friend of Kirchner since the 70s, was at the induction ceremony because, as he said: “Soccer with Walter has always been a passion, a labour of love, not a money thing. And he always got the job done – and always did it well.”

Other individuals honoured were Julie Kivinen (Bowerman) in the Female Athlete category and Myrton Showers in the History Category who, like Walter Kirchner all have a certificate and have earned a place in society that somehow allows them say out loud: ‘I did all that.’


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