Published on February 14th, 2012 | by Staples Soccer


Steve Baumann ’70: Starfinder Extraordinaire

Ever since earning All-American honors at Penn — and playing 3 years with the NASL Miami Toros — Steve Baumann ’70 has combined his twin passions of soccer and education.

Steve Baumann, enjoying fans' attention while playing with the NASL's Miami Toros (1974).

He’s been president of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, executive director of Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, and a director of the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.

He’s taught public school and been a college instructor — and served as head coach at the University of Pennsylvania for 7 years.

Now, Steve is president and CEO of Starfinder Foundation. The unique non-profit uses soccer, educational and personal development programs to inspire young people from underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods to achieve success both on and off the field.

Starfinder pairs athletic instruction with a range of educational and enrichment programs, delivered after school and at summer camps for 800 children, ages 6 to 18.

Starfinder organizes a fantasy league, so youngsters can learn to use Excel spreadsheets.

Players come from  Albania, Poland, Liberia, Afghanistan, Ghana, Mexico, Haiti — literally, all over the world.

This week, featured Starfinder. Baumann said:

We’re providing an opportunity that is more organic. If we didn’t have coaches here, they’d all still show up. It’s not like suburban soccer where if the coach isn’t there to call practice, nobody plays soccer. These guys, it’s in their blood and it’s in their culture and it’s in their being. They want to be here.

It’s sort of the most pure form of what we can get in soccer right now, given how organized it is. There’s some purity to it, some passion to it.

One 17-year-old from Afghanistan lost his father to the Taliban. According to

Hussain Ali had never played on an organized soccer team at home, just kicked the ball around with his friends. He doesn’t claim to be a star but said he really enjoys being at Starfinder. Whatever your nationality, he said, “If you can play, you can play. There’s no difference between black people and white people. . . . They always give a pass, a chance to take a shot.”

A Starfinder team is all smiles.

The eight-year-old foundation held its first college showcase last month, inviting coaches from most of the area schools. At least a dozen colleges were represented.

“They have aspirations,” Baumann said of the typical soccer player at Starfinder. “What they don’t have is people to help them create pathways from where they are to where they want to be.”

Actually, what they do have is Steve Baumann, and the superb Starfinder Foundation.

(To contribute to the Starfinder Foundation, click here.)

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