Missouri State has produced its share of professional athletes over the years, but Kyle Hiebert’s story is special.
He’s one of the most-decorated soccer players to come through Springfield. Now, he’s racking up accomplishments on Major League Soccer’s St. Louis City team.
Thriving in both academics, athletics at Missouri State
For every honor Hiebert earned for defensive play, he matched it with an award for excellence in the classroom.
He was a four-time all-conference player at Missouri State, earned United Soccer Coaches All-America status three times and was a finalist for the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy twice.
He was also a five-time Academic All-America honoree from 2017 to 2021, earning College Sports Communicators’ Division I Academic All-American of the Year for men’s soccer in 2020 and 2021.
Hiebert was a key architect in the transformational run by the soccer Bears that included:
- Four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
- Four straight Missouri Valley Conference regular-season titles.
- Three straight MVC Tournament championships.
Hiebert helped start that run, and he used his status as a three-time MVC Defensive Player of the Year to help Missouri State run up a 56-7-7 record during his last four seasons.
Joining St. Louis City in the team’s first-ever season
When it came time to pursue a pro career, he first landed with Major League Soccer’s City2 franchise.
Next, he signed with St. Louis City for its inaugural season in 2023. Hiebert not only made the opening day roster, he also earned a starting spot.
Then, on March 4, he was in the starting lineup again for St. Louis’ first-ever home MLS match. His team defeated Charlotte, 3-1, in front of a raucous crowd of nearly 23,000 downtown.
“Having this kind of fan base is something I never want to take for granted,” Hiebert said. “We had (more than) 22,000 fans for the home opener, and I don’t think they ever sat down. It’s a special fan base for sure.”
He scores goals as a defensive player — a rare combo
It only got better from there.
On March 11, Hiebert scored the game-winning goal at Portland Timber with a header in the 75th minute to help St. Louis win again.
For defensive center backs, goals are a scarce commodity, but expansion-team game winners in the third game of a debut season are virtually unheard of.
“It was so cool,” he said. “Especially it being a game-winner on the road. It was something I’m never going to forget, and I’ll always cherish. I feel like carrying the banner for (NCAA) DI soccer players and carrying the banner for Missouri State in the MLS is very special.”
In 88 career games with the Bears, Hiebert scored just six career goals. He rarely got offensive opportunities as the league’s premier defender.
But fellow Bears alum and current City teammate Michael Creek knows Hiebert’s hard work made him ready for the moment when it came.
“We played 5½ years together at Missouri State, and it was so helpful to have him with me to make the transition from college to City2 and then to City1,” Creek said.
“How he holds himself on and off the field has helped me, and I’m so grateful for his brotherhood. To see the success he’s having — no one deserves it more.”
Realizing a lifelong dream on Canada’s national team
Hiebert’s rise would be an inspirational story if his tale ended there.
But it doesn’t.
He is a native of LaSalle, Manitoba in Canada.
When he picked up the phone March 21, he learned he had been added to the Canada Men’s National Team for the Concacaf Nations League as a replacement for injured countryman Kamal Miller. A week later, Hiebert was realizing a lifelong dream of representing his home nation when he subbed in to help Canada top Honduras, 4-1, in a game played in Toronto.
“I wasn’t sure I’d go in, but I was prepared, and you’re always ready to go in,” Hiebert said in a recent article on MLS Next Pro. “I was excited to be able to have the opportunity, especially here at home.”
Looking to the future with fellow Bear teammate
After leading St. Louis City to a remarkable 5-0 start, an MLS expansion record, Hiebert’s special journey will almost certainly include more amazing moments down the road.
And based on his track record, it’s safe to assume it will be something award-winning or memorable. That’s just how Missouri State’s latest professional athlete rolls.
Hiebert credits a lot of his success to his family and his close friend, Creek, who is with him now more than ever.
“He’s been absolutely consistent and reliable and goes about his business at a high level,” Hiebert said of his teammate.
“He’s a joy to be around. We’re close friends off the pitch. Our wives grew up together in St. Louis, and the fact that the four of us get to hang out together outside of soccer is truly special.”