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Longtime coach embodies spirit of soccer

The Cochrane Rangers boast more than 300 players in its soccer club – and one particular member will receive the VIP treatment later this month to honour his longtime commitment to the sport.
Norman Sattler, 81, is being honoured after decades coaching soccer.
Norman Sattler, 81, is being honoured after decades coaching soccer.

The Cochrane Rangers boast more than 300 players in its soccer club – and one particular member will receive the VIP treatment later this month to honour his longtime commitment to the sport.

“He’s been every possibility in terms of a volunteer club: board member, adviser, technical director, coach, friend…,” said Rangers past-president Terry Norman of 81-year-old Reiner Sattler.

“Not a year goes by that we don’t want to celebrate him.”

Sattler was born in Germany and started playing organized soccer when he was 10 years old. He played in the farm system for FC Cologne until he was 18, then moved to Canada shortly after. All the while, everywhere he went, he would find a place to play his favourite game.

“Soccer has always been my passion,” he said. “To get to know people, I would go out and start playing a little bit.”

After years as an elementary school teacher in Edmonton, Sattler came to Cochrane in 2002 to be closer to his grandchildren, and just as before, one of his first stops was the soccer pitch.

“That gave me a chance to meet people,” he recalled. “Everybody knows and plays soccer to some degree – you can go to China or Russia, South America or Canada … it doesn’t take long to find somebody who is kicking the ball around.”

Norman remembered meeting Sattler one of his first times out on the Cochrane fields, and said the newcomer quickly immersed himself in the Rangers club – not only by playing, but also coaching a kids’ soccer camp and running clinics for the town.

Soon, Sattler became a valued member of the Rangers’ board of directors, and always came to the table with strong thoughts and opinions about the game, the club and the philosophy of the sport.

“Wherever there’s soccer, that guy’s going to go find it – and when he’s not playing, he’s talking about it,” said Norman. “The guy’s a Rolodex of ideas … He’s been wonderful to have.”

To honour Sattler’s time as a Ranger, the club is putting on a public event on the soccer pitch at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre on Feb. 23. The social evening includes a host of small-sided games and culiminates with a special presentation to Sattler.

The octogenarian – who still coaches part-time – said his most enjoyable times have been on the field, working with youth and adults to instil the same passion for the game that he has maintained all these years.

“I like to convey to them that this is a sport that size or specific things that you can’t do much about don’t really matter – in soccer, you can play,” Sattler said, adding he takes his lead from the ancient Greeks, who believed in the healthy body healthy mind concept of living.

“I believe very much into that upbringing. I feel that’s the best way to teach – to be an example.”