Chris Wingert Inducted into Long Island Soccer Hall of Fame

Published Mar 11, 2020

Former New York Cosmos defender Chris Wingert was inducted into the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame at the Huntington Hilton on Saturday night.

Wingert played for the Cosmos during the 2018 National Premier Soccer League season. Besides the Cosmos, the Babylon, N.Y. native distinguished himself in a 15-year career that included Major League Soccer teams Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew and New York City FC.

Hall of Fame founder Kevin McCrudden, who inducted Wingert, said he was an admirer of the defender. Wingert was a standout at St. John the Baptist High School and went on to earn All-America honors at St. John's University and winning the 2003 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy as the best men's college player in the nation.

"Chris is not 6-5 and 200 lbs.," he said. "There was a finesse, there was an intelligence, there was a brilliance to his game that he was able to take to the next level. When you are a ball player like that, you say, 'Wait a second, he's not the fastest guy on the field, he's not the biggest guy on the field. oh, that's right, he must be the smartest guy on the field.' And that's what Chris brought to the game."

McCrudden remembered when he watched Wingert take on the LA Galaxy's David Beckham.

"Lo and behold Chris decides to slide tackle David Beckham and wipe him out on the sideline," he said. "David Beckham gets up and looks at him; What in the world are you doing? Chris stands up and looks at him and runs back on defense. He didn't get a yellow card for it."

In his acceptance speech, Wingert thanked many people who helped him achieve greatness, including former coaches, teammates and colleagues. Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes, who was inducted into the Hall in 2019, was one of them.

"Carlos, man, did we put in hours, brother," Wingert told the audience. "For about a 15-year span, Carlos and I would put together pretty much every single offseason training for the pros in the New York area. The only thing was that Carlos would always put us on different teams. He would always put us on opposing teams. He always knew that his team would beat mine and he'd get bragging rights. I would try to tell myself that he and I would get after and compete and give ourselves a good challenge. But I always felt I was in midseason shape during preseason because of all those training sessions. So, thanks for that. I always appreciated that."

A few years ago, McCrudden caught up with both players at the same time and asked them to sign a Long Island Junior Soccer League jersey.

"I knew this day would come and they would both be in the room and both be part of this, the club of amazing and great soccer players," he said. "Chris, it is my honor to induct you into the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame."

Wingert said he could not have had a better place to grow up than on Long Island.

"Throughout my playing career I have been lucky enough to travel throughout the globe and meet people from every continent except maybe Antarctica,” he said. “I can't tell you how many people said to me, 'Don't you wish you were somewhere else, that you were born in South America or Europe? You would have been a much better player.' The initial response is always no because my childhood was amazing, growing up, playing all different sports, going to beach on Long Island and I wouldn't have given that up to up slightly better at soccer. But aside from that, I actually don't know if I would have been a better player. I grew up watching, emulating guys like Chris Armas and Mike Petke and Keith Beach, all great players from Long Island, playing against and with some of the best players in the country."

Wingert was one seven individuals who was inducted into the Hall, including the DiMartino sisters of Massapequa, N.Y. -- Tina, Gina and Vicki -- former Long Island Rough Riders Gary Sullivan and Paul Grafer, who also played with the NY/NJ MetroStars and one-time U.S. international Mary Frances Monroe.