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Hall of Fame Spotlight - Hugh O'Neill (2002)


Hugh O'Neill came to the United States in 1960, at the age of 21. Seven years later he helped organize, coached and served as Commissioner for the Soccer Youth League of Georgia. In 1968, that league became the DeKalb Youth Soccer Association. O'Neill continued to coach and serve as Commissioner, but also acted as a referee, field marshal and administrator for the expanded league.

In addition to these responsibilities, O'Neill took on helping to develop a strong high school soccer program as well. In 1971, O'Neill organized and coached the Hotspurs Soccer Club., alongside fellow Hall of Fame member, Walter Gray. During his time with them, the Hotspurs won numerous state championships and competed in regional finals. 

Shortly after this, O'Neill organized another U19 team with the goal of competing in the USSF Under 19 National Cup. A year after their start, they won the state championship, regionals eliminations, Southern Regionals in Dallas and went on to compete in Nationals in San Diego where they made it to the semifinals. 

In 1976, O'Neill became the head varsity soccer coach at Georgia State University and held that position until 1987. During his tenure, the team amassed an enviable record of 145 wins, 57 losses an 4 draws. They also achieved 7 conference finals and 3 conference championships. He was named Conference Coach of the Year in 1978.

That same year, O'Neill helped organize a youth soccer program in Douglas County, as well as a new varsity soccer program at Douglas County High School. O'Neill spent 20 years growing soccer in the state of Georgia before moving elsewhere. He passed away in 1998, but was inducted into the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame, posthumously in 2002.