MILWAUKEE (Jan. 7, 2010) - A goalkeeper who anchored the Wave's early years and the team's "First Fan" comprise the 2010 class of the Milwaukee Wave Hall of Fame.
Tony Pierce and Louise Au will be inducted Jan. 23, 2010 when the Wave host Baltimore at 6 p.m. They join the inaugural class of Victor Nogueira, Peter Knezic, Michael King, Art Kramer, Todd Dusosky and Steve Morris. Wave alumni voted for this year's class, from a list of nominees provided by the Wave Booster Club, current Hall of Fame members and the Wave organization.
"It's important that we recognize the history and tradition of this great organization and honor those who have been so crucial to building its foundation," said Peter Wilt, president and CEO of the Wave. "Tony and Louise are excellent choices by the Wave players alumni. Both personify the values and tradition of the Wave. In addition to his goalkeeping exploits and team leadership, Tony doubled as the team's director of community relations. In that position he set the high standard for public appearances and community involvement that is carried on by the Wave today. Louise's support of the Wave is extraordinary. Her enshrinement will not only reflect her dedication to the team, but that of all Wave fans who have supported the team for more than a quarter century."
Pierce played seven seasons for the Wave, beginning in the team's second season, 1985-86. He took the 1991-92 season off, then played one final year as the backup to Nogueira in 1992-93, Keith Tozer's first year as head coach.
He remains second on the career list in games played (178), minutes played (9,393) and saves (2,401). Pierce's career record was 71-83, with a career-best 14-5 in 1990-91.
During Pierce's first year - the team's second - the owner backed out midway through the season. Players weren't being paid, and Pierce admits he thought, "What did I get myself into?" But then a group of local physicians took over ownership, just in time for a team Christmas party.
"We had a Christmas party at my place, I shared with Matt Clark, on 32nd and Highland," Pierce said. "A dodgy little area. We had just heard the news of new ownership. It was a good time, we felt all right, the team is going to stay alive, that sort of thing."
The native of Granite City, Ill., had won a national championship at the University of Connecticut and played in two other Final Fours before coming to the Wave. He fondly remembers signing his first pro contract and seeing his name on the back of a jersey for the first time. As a rookie, Pierce thought he would come in and learn, but ended up starting and playing 33 of 40 games.
"Obviously it's an honor," Pierce said of his selection. "It's nice to know you're still recognized as somebody who contributed and is worthy of the honor."
Today, Pierce is the assistant coach for the U16 boys and manager of community programs at Shattuck-St. Mary's, a boarding school/soccer academy in Faribault, Minnesota.
Michael King, the Wave's all-time leading scorer, arrived the year after Pierce retired. "I didn't have the luxury of playing with him, but the legacy he left in the time he played on the team is something that the (Wave) is better off having had him be part of the organization. He is one of the founders both on and off the field, and I think he's justly deserved in being one of the Hall of Fame members."
Louise Au has been a season ticket holder from the inaugural 1984-85 season. But she's more than just a fan. She founded the Wave Booster Club, befriended players throughout the league, cooked them dinners and opened her home to them.
"She's kind of like the mother hen of the players who came to Milwaukee with really no family, just the bags and soccer skills," King said. "She took them under their wing, and it wasn't just one or two guys. Also, she has supported the team through thick and thin. Not just players make up the backbone of the Wave. She also deserves to be included in this."
Her affiliation with the team started when her 13-year-old son Steve was asked to be one of the first Wave ball boys. She thought, "Since I've got to be here, I might as well buy tickets to get here."
Coach Dave Johnson and original owner Tony Ramos asked her to help launch a booster club, since she'd had experience with a high school booster club. "It started with six people in the back room of a bar in Cudahy," she says.
Her husband, David, also was active supporting the Wave. When he passed away 15 years ago, two players were pallbearers and the team wore black armbands for a month.
Though her children grew, Louise never lost her affection for the Wave or the indoor game. She remains a fixture in the front row at the U.S. Cellular Arena, and considers the team an "extra family."
"To me, [the Hall of Fame is] one of the biggest honors I've ever received," she said. "It just took my breath away when Peter called and told me. I'm just a fan, I'm nobody."
Inductees will receive a plaque and be honored at halftime of the Jan. 23 game. For tickets or more information, call 414-224-9283 or visit milwaukeewave.com.