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Dennis Storer, 75; founded UCLA's soccer, rugby programs and raised sports' profiles

September 12, 2007|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Dennis Storer, who founded the soccer and rugby programs at UCLA and later significantly raised the profile of both sports on a national level, has died. He was 75.

Storer died Saturday at his home in Malibu after battling cancer for several years.

A former captain in the British army's Royal Engineers, Storer came to California from his native Birmingham, England, in 1966 to work on his master's degree at USC and then his doctorate at UCLA.

In Westwood, he started coaching soccer and rugby as club programs. The first scholarship player he brought to Westwood was Sigi Schmid, who later led the Bruins to three NCAA soccer titles in 19 years as UCLA's coach.

Schmid, now coach of Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew, visited Storer in Malibu in July and on Tuesday fondly recalled his former mentor.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, September 14, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 71 words Type of Material: Correction
Storer obituary: The obituary of Dennis Storer in Wednesday's California section called him the founder of UCLA's soccer program. Storer was the first coach of the UCLA soccer team when it was elevated from a club sport to an official team sport sanctioned by the NCAA in 1967, but soccer had been a club sport at UCLA since 1937. In addition, Storer died at his home in Topanga, not in Malibu.

"He was hugely influential for me because he was the one who allowed me to get into UCLA," Schmid said. "His record was phenomenal in both sports."

Storer's Bruin soccer teams compiled a 103-10-10 record during his tenure from 1967 to 1973, during which UCLA soccer evolved from a club program to a full-fledged NCAA sport.

In rugby, Storer was even more successful. UCLA went 362-46-2 and won national championships in 1968, 1972 and 1975 while under Storer's guidance between 1966 and 1982.

For the final half-dozen of those years, Storer also served as coach of the U.S. national rugby team, the Eagles, which he helped found in 1976.

Ed Hagerty, publisher and editor of Rugby magazine, said Tuesday from New York that Storer's influence went far beyond his won-loss record.

"He was professorial, I guess," Hagerty said. "He was a bright guy. He was a professor and a coach. He was convivial, but he was pretty much no-nonsense at the same time. He was a good guy -- no airs or anything."

Storer's influence on the community extended beyond the playing fields.

He was heavily involved in working with underprivileged youths, and for 14 years directed UCLA's National Youth Sports Programs.

He was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.

His ties to England remained firm, and in 1994 he was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to British American education, sports and commerce. Five years later, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Storer is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and children Gareth, Anna-Kristina and Maria. Services will be held at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park at noon Sept. 19. A celebration of his life is planned on the UCLA campus in late November.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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