From the President



  Books, Film, & Music



  My Response

  Letters to the Editor

  From the Editor

  Contact Response

  Submit Footnote

  Submit Letter to Editor

  Address Change

  Back Issues

  Response Home

  SPU Home

Autumn 2006 | Volume 29, Number 4 | Alumni

Goodwill Goalkeeping

Star soccer player Marcus Hahnemann wins fans in Europe, represents America in the World Cup

It’s a brisk midwinter evening in Reading, England. After a fan watches the hometown soccer team win, his car fails to start. Stranded, he flags down a passing vehicle. The man quickly recognizes the driver. It’s Marcus Hahnemann ’93, star goalkeeper for Reading Football Club. The man asks to borrow the driver’s cell phone to call for a tow. But Hahnemann gets out of his vehicle, looks under the stalled car’s hood, and fiddles with the engine. The vehicle starts, and soon both men are on their way.

Meet one of America’s best sporting ambassadors of goodwill.

In an age where the United States’ popularity has taken a beating overseas and professional athletes are distancing themselves from their followers, Hahnemann has Britons draping the Stars and Stripes over the rails of Reading’s stadium on game days. When he dives at the feet of foes to make a save, fans chant, “U-S-A, U-S-A!”

“Marcus is always the last guy out of the stadium, and that’s probably why he was able to help the guy with the car,” says Amanda Day Hahnemann ’96, his wife. “He’s just as comfortable talking with the team owner as he is with the janitor. People notice that. He’s very genuine.”

Perhaps one of the sports world’s most visible Seattle Pacific University alumni, Hahnemann is a prominent figure in the English Premier League, regarded as the strongest in the soccer world.

He has come a long way in the 12 years since he graduated from SPU. As a student, Hahnemann was a three-time All-American and member of the Falcons’ 1993 NCAA championship team. From there, he worked his way up. It took six years to reach Europe, and he finally got his chance to shine four years ago with Reading, then a second-tier team.

The starting goalkeeper, Hahnemann has played a prominent role for Reading. Last season, he held 22 teams scoreless, helped the club advance from the second tier to the Premiership, and earned himself a place on the U.S. World Cup team. “It’s been pretty crazy for over a year,” says Hahnemann. “When we clinched our promotion to the Premiership and then I got named to the World Cup team, that was like every dream I’ve ever had, rolled into just a week and a half.”

At the World Cup in Germany, the U.S. team was based in Hamburg, the childhood home of Hahnemann’s parents. The Americans were eliminated from the competition early, something Hahnemann hopes is not a harbinger of what happens to Reading amongst giants such as Manchester United and Chelsea in the Premiership.

“We’re playing with the big boys now, the best players in the world,” he says. To remain in the Premiership, Reading has to avoid the bottom three places. “It’s going to be tough,” he says, “but we’re all up for the challenge.”

With money and pressure exerting more influence, professional sports around the world are becoming fraught with gamesmanship, foul play, and cheating — which threatens to drive a wedge between players and fans. Given such a climate, fans say it’s refreshing to see Hahnemann building bridges in his game. He and Amanda invite American players from opposing teams to their home to celebrate Thanksgiving. He signs autographs long after the other players have gone to the locker room. And at his own expense, he sends his jersey sailing into the stands.

“I really appreciate the fans and don’t take them for granted,” says Hahnemann. “I grew up in the States, where soccer players would die for any publicity. Over here, the fans are begging for any sort of interaction. We kind of feed off each other.”

Hahnemann tries not to take himself too seriously. He wears cowboy boots to each game and bears the tattoo of the American flag on his left arm. Still, he knows that some of his fans have found fault with U.S. politics. “A lady told me she may disagree with our country, but she chants ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ because she knows I like it,” he said. “That supersedes everything else.”

On the evening that Reading clinched promotion to the Premiership, Amanda Hahnemann says the family walked into a local Chinese restaurant. “One man stood up and said, ‘Well done!’ and soon everyone was applauding.”

Marcus Hahnemann was probably more embarrassed than flattered, says his wife. “He has stayed grounded, and I think having two little boys has helped. When he walks in the door, they’re all over him.”

Another thing is certain: Fame has not fazed the former Falcon. He still owns his orange “Volkswagen Thing,” and savors his memories of road trips with SPU teammates, intramural basketball games, and the comical stories of his coach, Cliff McCrath.

His wife sums it up best: “Marcus is the same guy he’s always been,” she says.

— By Frank MacDonald (
— Photo courtesy of Reading Football Club


Send This Page Send-to-Printer

Back to the top
Back to Home


Beyond Intellectual Mastery
President Philip Eaton offers a more complete view of education: Learning is “a bigger story than our own little pieces of intellectual mastery.”

Advising Future Physicians
In 2006, SPU achieved a 100 percent medical school acceptance rate through its unique, longtime approach to “shepherding” premed students.

Fiction on a Small Canvas
A new volume celebrates the best in Christian short stories — and leads off with a creation of SPU Adjunct Professor Mary Kenagy.

Goodwill Goalkeeping
Star soccer player Marcus Hahnemann ’93 wins fans in Europe, and represents America in the 2006 World Cup.

My Response
Principal and SPU doctoral student Karol Pulliam considers the classroom implications of John Medina’s 12 brain rules.

Back-Cover Art
Class of 2000 alumna Anne Faith Nicholls gives Response readers a “Page One Examination.”

Copyright © 2006 Seattle Pacific University. General Information: 206-281-2000