On November 3rd, 2012, a 22-year-old Josh Sellmeyer celebrated a SLIAC Tournament Championship at Fenton’s Soccer Park – the home of Webster University’s Men’s Soccer team. He was a senior defender and captain of that victorious Gorlok side, starting all 19 games and earning SLIAC Player of the Year honors for his exploits that season.
Josh Sellmeyer. then Associate Head Coach of Webster's Men's Soccer team, overseeing his team warm-up ahead of a game in 2019 (Photo courtesy of Josh Sellmeyer).
On April 24th, 2021, a 30-year-old Josh Sellmeyer celebrated another SLIAC Tournament Championship at Fenton’s Soccer Park. This time, he was the Associate Head Coach of the very team he played for eight and a half years ago. The Gorlok defense was the best in the SLIAC that year, conceding just 5 goals in 14 games – something that Sellmeyer, a defensive specialist, played a crucial role in fostering. The players on that team still fondly talk about Sellmeyer’s uncharacteristically vigorous celebration that misty spring night.
The very next season, the team repeated the feat and Sellmeyer was part of another title celebration at Soccer Park. This time, the defense was far and beyond the best in the conference, boasting twelve clean sheets. Another feather in Sellmeyer’s cap.
On October 14th, 2023, a 32-year-old Sellmeyer will return to Soccer Park. But, for the very first time, he will be seated in the visiting dugout - donning the colors of Fontbonne University. By happenstance, the once thoroughly Webster man is now on the coaching staff of their biggest rivals.
Sellmeyer announced his departure from the Webster Men’s Soccer coaching staff seven months ago. The announcement followed that of Head Coach Michael Siener who had stepped down in December of the previous year.
“Ultimately, it was time for a change,” Sellmeyer said. “I had a fantastic time as a student-athlete and coach at Webster University and I’m incredibly proud of everything the men’s soccer program accomplished while I was there. Lots of tremendous memories and relationships built.
“But I’m also extremely excited to be at Fontbonne University and am grateful to be a Griffin. I love my new school and I’m having a blast coaching alongside some awesome people and coaching terrific student-athletes. God is good.”
Sellmeyer spent twelve and a half years at Webster – as a player and coach – so he knows all about this rivalry and its implications.
Sellmeyer referenced the fierce battle that these two teams had in the Conference semi-final last season - The Gorloks came back from a 0-2 deficit to win 3-2 on that dramatic night in Soccer Park. He was also aware of Webster’s ongoing 11-game win streak against Fontbonne, which he played a significant role in engineering. Now, he has the task of reversing it.
Josh Sellmeyer (right) alongside Michael Siener (left), coaching the Webster Men's Soccer team in 2019 (Photo courtesy of Josh Sellmeyer).
“I've never done something like this before,” Sellmeyer said. “It’s a new experience and it will be a challenge emotionally. I’ve recruited a lot of the guys on the Webster team and won championships with many of those guys.
“My fingerprints are all over the program still, so being on the other side of that now is going to be like nothing I’ve done before in my life.”
Sellmeyer admits that Saturday’s game crossed his mind when he made the transition six months ago. “I knew when I took this job that there was gonna be all sorts of layers going into this game.”
Fontbonne and Webster are located just four miles from each other, connected by the same road – Big Bend Boulevard. So, the two schools’ sports teams tend to get in each other's way quite often. When it comes to Men’s Soccer, their history goes back almost forty years - when they first met on September 24th, 1984 (Fontbonne won 7 – 1). Since then, this game has been played 62 times, making Fontbonne, Webster’s most frequent opponent.
Sellmeyer is excited however, to see the familiar faces surrounding the Webster team and University.
“Just seeing the faces who I haven't seen in several months will be enjoyable. I’ve built relationships with most guys on the Webster team and spent several years working with those excellent student athletes. I am looking forward to seeing them and chatting with them. Now, it will be fun and challenging to coach against them.”
Sellmeyer’s new team is off to a flyer in the conference this season. They are yet to be defeated, with a 5 – 0 record that includes wins against Spalding, Greenville, Principia, Eureka and Lyon (all of whom are title contenders).
Meanwhile, the Gorloks find themselves in a predicament. They have had their worst start to conference play in four years, with one win, two draws, and one loss after four games. The home side will be yearning for a season-changing win when they host their local rivals and former coach. The result of this game can have major consequences in the race for the SLIAC regular season championship and seeding for the SLIAC tournament.
Ultimately, Sellmeyer is happy in his new surroundings, and he hopes to keep winning at Soccer Park.
“Once the game gets kicked off, I will do everything in my power to do what it takes to give my team the best chance. It's going to be difficult to coach against a team I know so well and love. But now, I love where I’m at - being part of the Fontbonne family.”