Kai Haaskivi

Induction Year: 2006 Sport: Soccer

He arrived in the United States in 1978 bringing an impressive dossier of soccer credentials with him from native Finland to make a major impact on American soccer first as a player, and later as a player coach and eventually solely as a coach and teacher. Nowhere had that impact been stronger than in Ohio and particularly in the Greater Cleveland area. He began his American career in the North American Soccer League, playing for three years there and also playing indoors with the newly formed Major Indoor Soccer League. He joined the Cleveland Force for the 1982-83 season and gave the city its first genuine indoor soccer hero during five seasons in which his Nordic good looks and scoring feats so captivated the town that in a 1985 Plain Dealer poll asking readers to name the Top Ten Greatest Athletes in Cleveland sports history he finished third behind Bob Feller and Jim Brown. When the franchise floundered he left to join the Baltimore Blast in 1987-88 and 1988-89, only to return triumphantly as player-coach of the reborn Cleveland Crunch in 1988-89, continuing as a player here until his retirement in 1993. When his career in the MISL ended he ranked second in assists, third in points scored, eighth in total games played and 10th in goals scored and had the privilege of seeing his Number 12 become the first number retired in the 24-history of Cleveland indoor soccer. He has since served in a variety of coaching positions in professional, amateur and youth programs, and in 2005 became the head women’s soccer coach and assistant to the director of athletics at Cleveland’s Myers University. He lives in Rocky River.