National Soccer Hall of Fame Artifacts and Inductees
National Soccer Hall of Fame Artifacts and Inductees
Frisco is home to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, an interactive experience filled with 400 artifacts telling the story of soccer. HOF Executive Director, Djorn Buchholz, talks to Hustle and Pro about the experience and the upcoming class of Hall of Fame inductees.
The finalists have been named and the votes are in. David Beckham, Hope Solo, Kevin Hartman, Christie Pearce Rampone — they’re among the 40 finalists in categories of player, veteran, and builder. Who do you think will be in the Class of 2021 during the induction October 2, 2021?
Enjoy this episode and other episodes of Hustle and Pro in our archives.
[00:51] Djorn’s sports background
[03:30] What is the National Soccer Hall of Fame?
[09:11] Finalists & election process for Class of 2021
[20:13] HOF Weekend October 2, 2021 at Toyota Stadium
Resources within this episode:
- National Soccer Hall of Fame: Website |@soccerhof on Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Djorn Buchholz: @djorn21 on Instagram and Twitter
- Kelly Walker: Bio | Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to this episode of Hustle & Pro. I’m your host, Kelly Walker. The National Soccer Hall of Fame is here in Frisco since 2018. And that means a lot of soccer history, and a lot of soccer figures make their way through town. Djorn Buchholz is the Executive Director of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. And he’s talking with us today. Welcome, Djorn. How are you? Good, Kelly. Thank you for having me. Yeah. Thanks for jumping on here on Zoom and giving us a, kind of the scoop and update on what’s going on over at the Hall of Fame. But before we do that, I kind of want to know more about you personally. I’ve seen you down on the field at FC Dallas games and running the show over at the Hall of Fame. But, I don’t know much about you and your own sports, um, experiences as a, as a player and, and then also professionally.
Yeah, sure. Um, I’m actually born and raised on a small town in Nebraska, uh, Hastings, Nebraska. Played high school college soccer realized I wasn’t good enough to play at the next level. So just trying to figure out what was out there from a, uh, from a working standpoint and actually ended up in my first team, uh, in Indiana, the Indiana Blast, uh, you know, it was there for a couple of years and just kind of turn it into a career, you know, bounced around to some minor league pro soccer teams for, for several years is, you know, kind of general managers, uh, president at a couple, uh, then made my way to, to major league soccer at Sporting Kansas City where I was Director of Fan Experience and, uh, just a few other teams after that. And, uh, you know, honestly I’ve been lucky enough to work in the sport I love for, for over 20 years and, and found my, found my way to the National Soccer Hall of Fame really in, in the June of- June of 2017 is when I started there.
Okay. I didn’t know you were a Sporting KC guy original- or before here. So June of 2017, that’s probably when we’re getting close to having the Hall of Fame, uh, done here. Obviously it was built and, you know, being worked on for a while. Um,
When I showed up, I mean, I used to call it the Hole of Fame, cause it was just a big hole in the south end of the stadium. So it was, it was a project getting it, you know, and fun to be a part of, you know, really from the ground up literally. Uh, you know, from what was a hole on the south end of Toyota Stadium and, uh, into what it’s become today.
And I think that’s, what’s kind of, um, cool as a fan standpoint from it too, is that it wasn’t just some existing building that they said, “all right, let’s put some artifacts in.” It was actually a re-imagined section of the stadium that they dug out and built up and, you know, re- like from locker rooms for players and just the way that they kind of reformatted the whole stadium for it and built it into it was really cool to watch and tour and be a part of. So I think that makes it even more kind of personal to us.
Yeah, absolutely. And even made it really a challenging product project. You know, when you’re, when you’re looking at putting on a 56 million addition on to a stadium that’s been there since 2005, you know, so that, that was certainly a challenge for people with brighter minds than, than mine to figure out how to add a place, all of that, those, those new pieces, uh, new buildings into, into an existing structure.
Sure. For sure. Now, for those who have not been inside the Hall of Fame- I mean, obviously if you live in Frisco, you have driven by it, but you might not realize what it is, what’s in there, what’s going on in there. So can you give us a quick little summary, um, for those who haven’t stepped foot, like what, what they could expect going in there?
Yeah. You know, um, this is the second iteration of a Hall of Fame. There was one in Oneonta, New York up until 2010. Unfortunately closed its doors. It just wasn’t getting the kind of traffic that it needed. Uh, so this public private partnership really came together in 2015. And then we opened up our doors in 2018. And, you know, certainly, uh, you know, we’ve got over 400 artifacts that tell the history of the game in this country. It’s kind of funny. We’ve got a Pelé jersey inside, cause he’s a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. And when I give tours, I tell people, “you know, a lot of people in this country think in the 70s when Pelé came over here, that that’s when soccer started. But we can actually trace it back to really the middle of the 1800s.” So we’ve got, you know, over 400 artifacts that tell that story, but we didn’t just want to be a museum. You know, we don’t really call ourselves that. We call ourselves the National Soccer Hall of Fame experience. But we also had to back that up, uh, you know, so inside, um, you know, we’re very digital. Touch screens, virtual reality, gesture technology. But I think one of the coolest things we did is we partnered, uh, you know, with a Japanese company that also has a North American headquarters here called NEC. And they have, they have a facial recognition technology. So we’ve actually incorporated facial recognition into the Hall of Fame. And what I mean by that, as you come into the lobby, uh, you know, we ask, if we can take your photo on these little kiosks, we ask you a few things about you: where you’re from your favorite soccer teams in this country, your favorite soccer position, uh, and kind of your fan level.
Uh, and then the system takes that information. And there are 13 screens inside that recognize you when you walk up to them and give you information that we think is going to be most interesting to you inside of the Hall of Fame. So really at the end of the day, no two people will have the same experience inside the Hall of Fame, which is why we call ourselves the most personalized experience in sports. And that’s, that’s been a really fun process to be a part of, and really at the end of the day, I mean, we’re the first, uh, you know, space like ours to use facial recognition for customer experience. Normally when we think about it, you know, we think about safety and security, which is great, you know, but we’ve been able to take that and tailor it into, into a customer experience for guests.
Well, I love it because like you said, it is different for everybody. So when a family like mine walks in and we do the, you know, we do the facial recognition registration or whatever it is so cool that a 10-year old can walk up to a station and, um, yeah, it, it recognizes you as you walk up at like welcomes you in. But a 10 year-old can walk up and build their favorite starting 11. And my 43-year old husband can do the same from different generations and different types of players and watch different, you know, parts of history unfold in different parts of the experience, or, you know, juggle the ball or try to save goals, all these different, cool, like interactions that are for so many different types of people. Non-soccer people, but also, you know, all ages of types of soccer people too, right?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we wanted to cater, you know, not only to the, you know, the six-year old soccer player, but you know, all the way up to, you know, a grandpa that wants to bring his, his, his grandkids, because, you know, he wants to see some older artifacts and things like that. So I think it was really a beautiful mesh of, uh, you know, really bringing technology and, uh, and that historical artifact components all together in one spot.
So you mentioned older artifacts, I’m going to guess at what are some of the most popular things you think people are there to look at. Uh, there’s some World Cup trophies there, but what, what are the most popular artifacts people are looking at?
Yeah, so I mean, we, we are lucky enough that the four Women’s World Cup trophies do live in our building. They go on little vacations every now and then when they have appearances, but, uh, they are in our building most of the time. So that’s probably the Number 1 thing that I think people come to see, um, you know, but we also have some really interesting things, you know, I mean, if you think about the history of soccer and you can remember back to times, I mean, the 1999 Women’s World Cup that was here in the United States, that the USA won. You know, I mean, we’ve got, you know, reproductions of the, the flip charts from Head Coach Tony DiCicco’s, you know, locker room, speech at final match, you know, and that, that’s something- it’s my most favorite piece because you can just look at it and just see where his brain was and, you know, like, it’s telling the players, “Hey, we gotta make sure we do this.” But at the end of every one that said “score.” And then there’s another thing and “score.” You know, it’s just, just score, you know, and there’s an amazing thing that I, I try to make a correlation inside the Hall of Fame. You know, we’ve got videos that show some of the greatest moments in women’s soccer and they’re in that 1999, uh, Finals match. Um, you know, Kristine Lilly saves a header off the line on a corner kick, you know, I mean, and when you go and look at Tony’s flip charts and you look at like where everybody’s supposed to be on corner kicks, and there’s a KL for Kristine Lilly right in that spot, you know, you saved it off the line. So I’m just-
And that’s when it all, yeah, it all comes together just like it’s planned. Right.
It really does. And when you think about it, I mean, those flip charts, I mean, those were pieces of paper that that’s a lost artifact now, ’cause everybody’s just got whiteboards, you know, so, uh, and everything gets erased at the end of the match, you know, for the next team that’s coming in. So I that’s, that’s really one of my most, most favorite pieces in there that I think really tells a story.
That’s cool. I don’t know if I’ve seen that, so I’ll have to look for it next time I’m running through there. Really cool. Well, okay. So that’s the, um, you know, the history and the artifacts, then I want to talk about a whole ‘nother piece of the Hall of Fame, which is the people, the inductees, the classes that are brought in every year, we hear about, um, you know, Hall of Fames in other sports all the time. But I wanna talk about how the sport of soccer does it here in the US at least. And you know, there’s three categories and the finalists- we’re kind of in this phase right now where finalists have been determined and we’re kind of in a holding pattern, I think, right, before we know exactly who’s this class of inductees actually happened. So tell us about that.
You’re in a holding pattern. I’m not. Oh, okay. Okay. I, I’ve got the advantage of knowing, you know, who’s, who’s going in, but we’re not there to let the world know yet. You can if you want to give us any- No, no, no, I can’t. I’m not going to do that today. Sorry. So yeah, that would be breaking news on your podcast. But we’re going to plan to announce our names in June. You know, originally the induction ceremony was going to be scheduled for May. Um, you know, we wrapped up all the voting in February. Uh, the new, the induction ceremony is now going to be in October. So we’re, we’re going to wait just a little bit to get that information out there. But, uh, yeah, the process, uh, it’s been a work in progress, you know, I mean, for many years, like I said, there wasn’t a physical building. There wasn’t a full-time staff focusing on this. So inductions were kind of happening in the cloud. You know, there were a group of voters and US Soccer was managing it. Um, but I think at the end of the day, we saw that, you know, not necessarily all of the, the right people were getting in. Not, you know- we were getting the good people in, but not enough of them. You know, you look at the class of 2019, we had a player, Abby Wambach and a builder, Sunil Gulati. Well, I feel like we have a lot of catching up to do so, you know, we spent really the last year focusing in on that process and completely revamping it this, this fall, uh, and going into voting for 2021. So when I, when I look at who was going into the Hall of Fame this year, I’m very happy with the progress and the results we have.
We still have some tweaks that we’re going to have to do, but I think the result is going to be much better. And I think people are going to be much happier. You know, but like you said, I mean, we do have three categories, so we’ve got the Player category, you know, which has players that meet a minimum threshold. Um, and have been retired anywhere between, you know, they start, they get on the list when they’ve been retired for three years up until 10 years. Uh, and if individuals from that list don’t get voted in and they moved to the Veterans list, which is individuals that have been retired for 10 years or more. Uh, and then we have, uh, uh, a Builder ballot, you know, which is really not the non-playing individuals, you know, those administrators, general managers, referees, you know, things like that, that the minimum that meet a minimum threshold as well.
The coaches if they weren’t- for the player to get they weren’t in as a player. Yeah.
You know, so, so, so we’ll see. I mean, our new process, we think will guarantee us a, you know, a minimum of two and right now a maximum of four, uh, I think on an annual basis, there’ll be a three, four, three or four people going in. And again, that’s something that we need to evaluate as we move forward. Is that, is that the right number on the annual basis? But, uh, but we’re happy with, with the results this year for sure.
‘Cause I agree with you that, um, having just the two in 2019 wasn’t enough, those were huge ones. Like I got to meet Abby. That was great. Um, she covers a lot of ground, uh, but there could have been more right. So right.
So they could have been worried. We just have, we just had one in 2019, you know, with Carlos Bocanegra. 2020 that we announced with Carlos Bocanegra. And there’s just more people that deserve to be going in there.
Which Carlos will get inducted with this new class, right? Because there wasn’t a 2020 induction.
He will. Yeah, we canceled 2020 obviously because of the pandemic and doing both of those classes in October.
So then you talked about three or four going in. So I wasn’t sure, you know, do they have to get a certain threshold of votes or is it ranked or, you know, I wasn’t sure exactly. And if you can even tell us what gets you in.
Yep, all of that information- you know, I think one of the criticisms of the Hall of Fame for the past several years is nobody knew who was voting or necessarily how the votes, you know, transpired. And, uh, and we made an effort this last year to be completely transparent in that process. So people can go to our website at nationalsoccerhof.com and go to Hall of Famers and see, you know, the exact procedures. If they’re interested in reading 16 pages, uh, you know, that we have written on, on the, on the process, they can do that, but you can also see, uh, you know, when we reduced our voters, you know, down from over 200 people down to what we call our selection selection committee of 96 individuals now. And these are people that are really focused in and want to be a part of the process. Uh, so you can see all the people who are voting, um, you know, and we will put out there not necessarily who voted for who, but we’ll put out percentages of, you know, what people got to. Uh, but yes, there is a minimum threshold that you need to get in. Uh, that used to be at 66%. Now it’s a, uh, it’s a minimum of 50, but we think that that’s a right number. Um, you know, based on the number of voters, but, you know, the results are actually coming in with people, you know, our, our, our candidates are gonna be going in or have exceeded even our previous threshold. And I think that is exactly what we want. You know, we needed that base level of “hey, we need to be putting people in every year and have a minimum.” But the cream of the crop is rising to the top. And I think that was a process of, or a result of us having a really focused selection committee that was on screening calls and on voting calls that we were doing was Zoom. I mean, I had a, a player voting call, you know, with, with 45 of the 48 individuals, you know, that were, we were on a phone call for three hours discussing the candidates. And that’s just stuff that didn’t happen before people were voting kind of in a vacuum. And now we have actual real discussions. And I think what you’re seeing, what we’re seeing from that, and when we publish it, you know, really in June is, you know, people have people came to consensus, you know, who is the right class this year. And you see, and people get just astronomical percentages, which, which is exactly what we wanted.
I would be so interested in hearing some of those conversations because, you know, when the Finalist list came out, I’m looking at it- admittingly, I’m looking at the player list first because those are more of the names I know. And so I look at it and I think, “okay, you’ve got names like David Beckham, Gregg Berhalter, um, Thierry Henry, you know, there are names like that. And then there’s Hope Solo names and, um, Christie Pearce Rampone, like, so like big names. And I wonder “how many of these are gonna make the cut and is it just, is it just a popularity vote?” Because I have these concerns and I’m looking at like, you know, six MLS seasons compared to 202 US Women’s National Teams for somebody like Hope Solo. So I wonder how those things are weighted. And are you saying there’s actual conversations that are had about that?
Yep. They’re actual conversations, you know, with all of our committees, that was one of the commitments that we made or that they had to make, you know, when we started, uh, you know, finding out who really want to be involved in the process is, you know, they had to be involved in the process, not just receive a ballot via email and submit it. You know, we wanted people, you know, we’ve got inside of each of the three committees, we’ve got a smaller screening committee. That’s whittling lists down from, you know, pretty, pretty large lists. Uh, and I think that was one of our problems in the past too, is we weren’t necessarily screening in particular, the players down to kind of a more manageable list. So people had, you know, 10 votes and, you know, they had over, you know, sometimes 50 people that they could spread those votes out amongst. And it was just becoming too convoluted and votes going all over the place that people weren’t hitting that minimum threshold. Well, now we screen the player list down to 20 individuals. Uh, people can vote for up to 10. Um, not everybody uses all their votes and I, I think that’s okay. But, um, but yeah, the process is just just much, much, much better now.
That’s interesting not using all your votes. That’s an interesting strategy because it could make each of your votes even more, you know, important, I guess if you’re not watering it down by people that are, you know, 9 and 10 on your vote list, but that you really don’t want to see it as much as the others.
Yeah. I mean, we, we, we encourage people to use all their votes, but I also, you know, we’re not going to tell people you have to use all 10. If you look at a list of 20 people and go, I only see 7 people that I feel deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, then then use your 7 votes. That’s okay.
Yeah. Okay. Well, I was going to ask you about your favorites now. I feel like that’s not fair since, you know, who’s voted in, but, um, my favorites, I mean, I mentioned Hope Solo. Uh, you know, I just, there’s several men on the list that are deserving too, but I just go back to so many national team appearances and Olympic medals and World Cup wins that makes me, you know, lean over to the girls’ side on so many of these, if I had to do out my own votes. Do you have favorite players- just ignore the fact that, you know, whose votes got in or no. But, um, just on your own personal preference, like who you, who sticks out for you?
Well, uh, that’s a tough question for me, you know, because I mean, when I look at it, you know, I, I feel like, you know, so many of these people are absolutely deserving. I, I think, you know, the way I approach it, you know, is I don’t try to put out any favorites. Uh, you’re not going to get me to here either, uh, you know, what we, what we really try to do on the Hall of Fame side, you know, is be very objective, right. Uh, and really facilitate a platform for the people who actually have a vote. I don’t get a vote, you know, so, and I’m not here to try to influence either, but really facilitate that, that platform for them to have actual conversations. And I think that’s one of the things that, that we were most proud of, uh, you know, when we looked at the end, you know, what the end results were, uh, you know, just that we were able to provide that platform and people participated. Um, you know, so no, I don’t have favorites, you know? I mean, sure. What would I like to see David Beckham show up at the Hall of Fame? Yeah. ‘Cause I think it’d be a circus then it’d be fun. But, um, but that’s up to the voters, not me.
Yeah. Okay. So speaking of somebody like him, there’s a lot of people on this lift list, who’ve come through Frisco already as a player, or, you know, for some reason at Toyota Stadium, um, events and different things, especially, well, I don’t know if any of the players on this list were like, like national team players when the women came through, because that’s all been really recent. But, um, do you know of any, any players on the Finalist list that have ties to this area at all? Because I don’t, but I just, wasn’t sure you know them all better than me. So I wasn’t sure if there was any, any local ties. I always love those stories.
Well, I mean, when you, when you look at the, you know, the list of the final 20 players, I mean, you’ve got Kevin Hartman, you know, that played at FC Dallas for several years. So there’s a, there’s a tie there, you know. Josh Wolff, uh, is now the Head Coach of Austin FC. So there, you know, there’s a tie there. So there there’s a few of them, you know, that have, you know, whether it’s a direct tie with FC Dallas. I can’t think of any of these individuals that are from, uh, you know, Dallas, um, or even Texas. But yeah, I mean, some of them certainly certainly have some ties. Um, you know, most in particular would be Kevin Hartman. He played for FC Dallas for several years.
Very cool. Okay. So then what are the next steps? Um, they were supposed to get inducted in may. It’s all been pushed back, but of course everybody’s so used to new schedules nowadays. It’s no big deal. Nobody even blinks an eye at that. But, um, the, so now it’s an October 2nd weekend, which kind of is what the original fall weekends were anyway when the Hall of Fame first opened. Correct. So I’m used to that. It’s always around my birthday. So I’m always like, “yes, let’s do the concert for my birthday weekend. It all works out.” Um, so I mentioned concerts, so it’s not just a induction ceremony because typically that’s close to the public anyways, you don’t want a circus, like you talked about. I mean, there’s ways that public can have access and some visibility as people show up for those things, but what do, um, what are all the things that, that local fans can look forward to on that October 2nd weekend?
Yeah. So, you know, we, we call it induction week and, you know, typically in the past, you know, it’s been a two or three date of event, you know, we’re going to do, you know, we just say get smart to put everything in this current environment into one day. So what you’re going to see on October 2nd is, uh, probably a luncheon induction ceremony. Uh, and yeah, that is a private event. And that’s mostly because, I mean, we just have a limited space inside of the National Soccer Hall of Fame Club where we do this. Um, but it is always streamed live, you know, so people do have access to it, um, and they can come in and, you know, watch individuals show up. Cause we, you know, it’s a little bit star-studded, which is great. Uh, so we’ll do an induction ceremony at lunch. Um, and then, you know, probably that, uh, you know, early evening, uh, it will be an FC Dallas match. Uh, I think the list of opponents came out. I think, I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly who they’ll be playing that evening. Uh, and then, you know, really following right after that game will be a concert on the stage at the stadium, uh, with Willie Nelson performing. So we’re, uh, we’re pretty excited about this. We’ve been wanting to get Willie in for awhile and you know, the, the dates lined up great. And here we are. So this it’ll, it’ll be a fun day.
Well, I was fascinated to see who you’ll get for that concert cause it’s been great, like so great all these few years. So it looks like FC Dallas plays Minnesota on the 2nd at 7:00 PM. That’s as of right now. Things change, people. Um, and then yeah, the concert after. So I will be in attendance of all of those things you just mentioned and I’m super excited. It’ll be great. So, um, everybody listening, if you guys, um, need a family activity or any, any local, um, outing, go check out the Hall of Fame because there’s something in there for everybody’s interests. Um, even if you’re not a soccer fan, I mean, walk through the area where built into the floor there’s there’s little glass enclosures that show you cleats and just different, like goalie gloves and different cool parts of soccer history. It’ll tell you all about them and you can look up and see things up in the rafters and those World Cup trophies. So you guys get out there and check it out. So I’m, Djorn Buchholz. Thank you. Thank you so much for your time. It was, it was good to talk to you.
Of course. Thank you for having me. And one last note, you know, as you talk about people coming out, we just launched a new promotion that we’re going to move forward with really starting, you know, it started yesterday, But $5 Wednesdays, every Wednesday. The Hall of Fame is open Wednesday through Sundays. But every Wednesday, you know, we’re open 1:30 to 9:00 PM and every single ticket to get in is just 5 bucks. So that’s a new thing that we just, uh, we just put out there.
That’s cool. Very cool. Awesome. Thanks for that. All right. Thank you for listening to this episode of Hustle & Pro. And remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll see you next time.