By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FORT WRIGHT - John Toebben turned the men's soccer team at Northern Kentucky University into a Great Lakes Valley Conference powerhouse.
He coached the Norse to three GLVC championships during his 13 years as head coach.
His 1995 team posted a school record of 16 wins on the way to the league championship, and the 1996 team ranked No. 14 in the final NCAA Division II poll.
The league named him coach of the year twice.
"When you think of John Toebben, you think of soccer," said Jane Meier, NKU athletic director. "He loved the game and was a true ambassador for the sport in our community."
Mr. Toebben died Saturday night at the St. Elizabeth Medical Center South Unit in Edgewood after a seven-month battle with cancer. The Fort Wright resident was 61.
While coaching soccer was a big part of Mr. Toebben's life, it was merely a part of his larger goal - to provide a way for youths to improve their bodies and minds.
A developer, he built the first indoor soccer facility in Northern Kentucky - in Park Hills. Later, he developed Town & Country Sports Complex in Wilder - a state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor facility. It was not just for soccer, but also for volleyball, basketball and other sports.
Town & Country - owned by Mr. Toebben until he sold it just prior to his cancer diagnosis - has served as NKU's home field since 1998.
A native of Lorup, Germany, Mr. Toebben traveled to Kentucky at 19 to join a brother and two sisters who had already settled there.
He hooked up with the German Kolping Society and joined its soccer team. He coached the under-19 team from 1983 to 1985. One year, he took team members on a playing tour of Germany, where they finished with an 11-4 record.
Mr. Toebben coached at the high school level from 1975 to 1984, first at Covington Catholic High School and later at Covington Latin.
He came to NKU in 1990 after a three-year stint as coach of men's soccer at Thomas More College.
"He took over the NKU program when it was down, built it into a contender and eventually won three GLVC championships," Meier said.
Mr. Toebben's career coaching record was 137-105-15. Coaching against GLVC teams, his record was 75-42-8.
At Thomas More, Mr. Toebben guided the Saints to a 24-24-5 record.
He was an "outstanding gentleman who cared deeply about his players," Meier said. In turn, he was "loved and respected by his players and the entire athletics staff, and he will be deeply missed."
Survivors include: his wife of 37 years, Judy Adick Toebben; a son, Jack Toebben of Taylor Mill; a daughter, Jenny Wichmann of Crescent Springs; two brothers, Matth Toebben of Villa Hills and Rudolf Toebben of Surwold, Germany; five sisters, Marie Kreutzjans of Lakeside Park, Agnes Wessels of Crescent Springs, Anna Moring and Tekla Rieken , both of Lorup, Germany, and Elizabeth Oldopp, also of Germany; and three grandchildren.
Visitation is 4-6:50 p.m. Wednesday followed by Mass of Christian burial at 7 p.m. at St. Agnes Church. Burial will be at St. Mary Cemetery.
Memorials: John Toebben Soccer Scholarship Memorial Fund, c/o Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY 41099 or a charity of the donor's choice.
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