…welcome to the cut throat side…
I never thought, in the small existence of this blog [realistically] that I’d end up writing a post like this. As has been the theme for the past several days; the acknowledgement and anticipation of a new professional women’s soccer league, along with a new women’s professional soccer team in Kansas City has had my direct attention.
To the average reader; this isn’t that big of a deal, and the past couple days I’ve had to sit down with people and try to explain what’s going on, and the hype behind all of this. So you, the most devoted reader I have, I’m going to try the same with. Some of this will be review, so; try to keep up:
In September of last year I was honored to be able to cover the USA vs Canada women’s soccer match that was held at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. I was in the media box of this brand new stadium, on the field with the players [and these athletes are my icons mind you], and I also got to absorb the 17,000 screaming fans throughout the stadium [of all genders and ages]; it was breath taking.
Prior to moving back up north; while I was residing down in southern Missouri I started to knock around the idea of what it would take to build my own soccer club; an all girls competitive program. It would consist of those with equal skill with less resources [money], and through ethics, morals, and faithful players and fans, we’d show that section of the world that anything was possible when passion overwhelmed expectation. While thinking about this, I started looking into the different leagues that existed for women’s soccer in the United States; W-League, a premier division associated with the United Soccer League [USL], the WPSL [Women's Premier Soccer League] which was a private entity that was derived from the USL W-League, but wasn’t a part of the United States Soccer Federation [tricky, right?], and the WPS [Women's Professional Soccer]. The WPS were the ‘cream of the crop’ so-to-speak; the Hope Solo’s, Alex Morgan’s, Abby Wambach’s, etc…similar to the former WUSA [former professional league] the WPS front office over spent, under marketed, and eventually due to travel costs and poor showing of fans [and media] the league painfully died over a court case from a crazed owner.
That was around March/April of this year . A month prior to that, through my soccer blog and Twitter, I started to knock around the idea of building a competitive club [multiple ages] in the county that I grew up in, in northern Missouri. Being as how this was after the divorce, being broke, living in the truck, etc…my life had panned out a bit better, and it seemed somewhat doable. However, it was met with enough resistance that I placed it on the back burner and started in a different direction; Kansas City.
I had over the years, primarily the past two, watched professional men’s soccer flourish in Kansas City, so I thought; why not do the same on the women’s side? However, I immediately had some issues. There was no way this team would be part of the WPS, because the league was almost dead and it would have been a worthless investment. I had no staff, no coach, no players, and no direction. So, I did what any smart person would have done; I went to Twitter. I started jawing up a team in Kansas City, and people loved the concept. A few men stepped up to say they’d help and it was settled; we were going to bring women’s soccer at the premier division to Kansas City.
By July of this year we were able to host our own summer kick-off tournament, and meet some great people, such as goal keeping glove maker; Pro Ebiria [makes gloves for the goal keeper at Sporting Kansas City], and even some of the staff and players of the Missouri Comets, the men’s professional indoor team was there as well.
The tournament was a success for the most part, and we had filed our papers with the league we were ready to go, and then we started to hear rumors about a new professional league that was going to be created in the United States [this would be the third attempt in the past decade], and that the United States Soccer Federation was going to be backing it [similar comparison: Government bailout for GM]; that meant national players were going to have home teams to play on, salaries would actually exist [most leagues in the United States don't have salaries because they allow college players on their roster, it's an NCAA issue]. However, the catch would be that this league would be designed to assist ‘feed’ the national team roster [since we all know women's soccer is just about the national team...], and it would effect 5% of the players in the country, but the other 95% [those without the skill, knowledge, name, school, pedigree, money] would be left out.
I didn’t give the new league much thought until I got the bomb dropped on me last Thursday when it announced that one of the new eight teams would be in Kansas City.
The same city that my team/business, the Kansas City Shock, was going into, and they were both going to be started in 2013.
So in less then twenty four hours Kansas City went from having no women’s soccer teams at the competitive level; to two, including one with a $500,000 franchise tag and national players from Canada, USA, and Mexico.
…it all started with a concept for a high school club program in southwest Missouri…
I would later learn that the new teams and league started to be put together in July of this year, and I also learned that the owners of the new team in Kansas City…were the exact same owners of the men’s indoor team that came out to our tournament in July.
This is business. This is politics. This is soccer.
Naturally, I’ve given long hard thoughts on everything [and slept very little]. There’s a lot of faith going into the Kansas City Shock, and I mean a lot. It’s my ministry, my calling, and my lifetime investment. I’m reaching people through this outlet that I would have never imagined elsewhere.
Today, for my Friday after Thanksgiving; I spent the day in a coffee shop talking to our head coach and general manager; making each next move of our program very carefully.
In many ways; to make it make a bit more sense to the reader, my life is now like this: I’m the local gas station and the international truck stop just opened up across the street. See the stress?
It’s a hard place to be; soccer politics isn’t clean, it really isn’t; it can take Major League Baseball to an entirely different level. It’s to the point to where even on this site, my own personal page; I have to be careful not to say ‘too much’ about the Kansas City Shock’s developments just because, as I learned via LinkedIn tonight, there are all sorts of people watching my every move at this moment. The fascinating thing about a new professional team being announced in Kansas City [which it does have its own name] is that our popularity [especially after the press release stating that we're not the professional team, we're the premier team] has actually increased. Quite an interesting development.
As my girlfriend can tell you; there have been a lot of loud evenings in the apartment, lots of chatter with God. I’m definitely not mad at Him, because my dream is coming true; my hometown has become Soccer City USA. Truthfully, I still get frightened. Our tryouts are in a month, and there are some areas that I’m still working on, and there are so many times that I’m sitting there thinking, “OK God, I have no idea what’s going to happen, I’m just trying to do what is right”. At the moment, that means having to quiet down the chatter of my soccer life; who would have thought? I’m just a small town kid, wrote a blog about being divorced, works at Subway, and found myself in the spotlight of Kansas City and soccer. What?
You just can’t make this stuff up.
This is business. This is politics. This is soccer.