Tori Foster, Sports Editor
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has a rich history.
Ruth Harker, a former UMSL Women’s Soccer player, is being inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame. She played as a goalkeeper.
Harker has built up an impressive soccer career resume over the years. She is in the UMSL Hall of Fame for the 1982 team, was the MVP of the 1985 Olympic Festival, played on the first-ever U.S. Women’s National Team—and now she is about to be inducted into the St. Louis Soccer HOF.
Growing up Harker couldn’t play sports until she was a teenager due to financial limitations, but she was determined to play. Harker wanted to follow in the footsteps of her older brother, who played a variety of sports. By the age of 13 she was managing all the sports teams at her junior high and got a job so she could pay for cabs to go to practice. Not to mention, she is blind in one eye. However, Harker never made excuses and pressed towards her athletic goals.
At 14 years old, Harker got her first uniform and stepped in the goal for the first time. Her athleticism and drive were quickly noticed by high-level coaches. By next summer, she was training overseas in Sweden and Finland.
Harker decide to choose UMSL along with some of her other friends.
In 1981, UMSL was the first major-college women’s soccer team in St. Louis and played in the first-ever U.S. women’s national college soccer tournament. As a freshman, Harker was a starter and remained a starter all four years. The Riverwomen went 16–0–0 until losing in the national semifinals and the third-place game to finish fourth.
While attending UMSL from 1982 to 1985, Harker’s 1982 team was coached by Ken Hudson. They finished with a 16-2-1 record in its first season as an NCAA team. The team was ranked second in the national poll, finished fourth in the season, and currently still hold the school record of a 17-game winning streak.
According to UMSL Athletics:
“During regular season competition, UMSL defeated 1981 national champion the University of North Carolina, 2-1, at a tournament in Florida. The team received a bid to the NCAA Tournament, placing fourth. They defeated Harvard, 2-1, before North Carolina avenged its earlier season loss with a 2-1 victory. UMSL then lost a 2-1 decision to the University of Connecticut in the consolation game. The 1982 team had four players earn All-America honors, including Joan Gettemeyer, Jan Gettemeyer, Patty Kelley and Sue Richert.”
During her college career she was selected in the All-Region team in all four seasons, as well as the All-West first team.
Harker thought UMSL’s hometown reputation might work against her when the selection process was to be held for the first United States Women’s National Soccer Team. Players was picked from the 1985 Olympic Festival in Baton Rouge, La. The soccer portion of the festival consisted of four regional teams playing each other. Harker played for the North, led by her St. Louis select club coach Mark Kaiser. The players who would make up the U.S. Women’s National Team were announced at the end of the Olympic Festival.
Harker was named MVP of the 1985 Olympic Festival. Kim Wyant and Harker were then announced that they had gotten the last two spots on the team.
Her debuted on the U.S. Women’s National team for what served as the women’s World Cup in 1985 was at Mundialito where the team faced England. Harker was substituting for Kim Wyant, who eventually became the first and only woman to lead a men’s National Collegiate Athletic Association soccer program. The team played four games in Il Mundialito, losing three and tying Denmark 2-2.
The team soon went to Italy to play their first international matches in program history.
A knee injury prematurely ended Harker’s U.S. Women’s National Team career while still in her early twenties.
Later in 2014, UMSL inducted Harker into the UMSL Sports Hall of Fame for being a part of the famous 1981 and 1982 women’s soccer teams.
The current mother and businesswoman has created her own charity called Easter Seals. Easter Seals serve individuals with disabilities. Harker then realized her passion for charity and community as well as the resources that she had gained from her career could benefit the others around her.
On Friday, Oct. 11, she will become the fourth member from UMSL’s great soccer teams to be inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame along with Jan and Joan Gettemeyer, who were each three-time All-Americans at UMSL, and Maureen Lee (McVey), who recently retired as the longtime soccer coach at St. Joseph’s Academy.
The event will be held at Union Station Grand Ballroom off Market Street. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and a sit-down dinner will be served at 6:30, with the ceremony starting at 7:30 p.m.