Every week at the conclusion of the weekly #SoccerSoapbox Twitter Chat, Soccer Support announces a ‘Tweeter of the Week’ – someone who we felt gave the best insights and responses during the hour and embodied what #SoccerSoapbox is setting out to achieve.
The winner of this award is then entitled to promote a blog, club or website through the Soccer Support channels. This weeks recipient was Scott Viar from Milwaukee (@backseatgaffer) who chose to post his blog on womens soccer and the potential for a WPSL team in Milwaukee. A great #GrowTheGame story and we wish Scott all the best on his new project!
Revisioning Women’s Soccer in Milwaukee
In the spring of 2008, after spending some time working for a soccer club in Buffalo, NY, I returned to the Midwest due to a family crisis. On my way back from the east coast, I began to ponder what my next move in soccer might be. I had gotten an epiphany while in Buffalo after scanning college rosters in the development of a women’s team to play in a regional league that summer with a move to the WPSL the following year (the men’s team at the club was entering its second season in the NPSL, and that eventual move ended up being kiboshed due to the birth of the Buffalo (now Western New York Flash). After finding approximately 45 women from the area that had played college soccer the previous fall via team websites, I realized that NOT ONE OF THEM had attended a Buffalo public high school. Having coached at a public high school in my hometown of Milwaukee, WI (not coincidentally the same school from which I graduated) and having had players move onto the college ranks from our squads, in my mind there was no reason why “city” players could not make that jump given the more than 1000 colleges in the US that have women’s soccer teams in both the NCAA and NAIA. If there was a reason why urban soccer players were not at the level necessary to play college soccer, then there needed to be a means to remedy that. Enter my next move.
On that train trip to Minneapolis, I began to flesh out the idea of a women’s soccer club that would play in the WPSL with a roster based on the residents of the area, with a tiered approach of selection/inclusion whereby college players from Milwaukee public high schools would be first in line rather than last if at all considered. The club would be community-owned, would have a community service and philanthropic focus, and would attempt to expand playing opportunities for the less-well-off. It was an ambitious undertaking. In fact, too ambitious and too regimented. Having created this idea in a bubble, 350 miles away from where it was to be implemented, I did not take into account the number of potential and actual roadblocks that would exist as I seeked to bring this idea to reality (raising funds, finding fellow advocates for this, organizational rules and logistics that precluded entry to the state’s women’s league). After relocating back to Milwaukee in June of 2009 and going non-stop for the better part of 18 months on getting SOMETHING off the ground, I shelved the idea and thought I was done with trying to bring about this urban women’s soccer club dream.
Fast-forward to the here and now. A fellow blogger here at Women’s Soccer United, Shawn Daugherty, and I had been discussing the lack of women’s soccer on the Great Plains beyond the college level (I had started my undergraduate education at Drake University in Des Moines and had some degree of understanding of the regional terrain). From those conversations came his desire to launch a WPSL team in Kansas City and my desire to help him branch out to other cities in the hope of establishing a division within the league consisting of teams from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. As Shawn and his local group have started to develop plans for the Kansas City team, some of their ideas have stoked in me a need to revisit my original plan for Milwaukee WPSL and see if, after stripping away all the extraneous projects and ideas that I had added to the table (and which in hindsight didn’t leave room for others to help shape it), there might be a way to move forward with it at this time.
I am starting more or less with a blank slate, with little more than the desire to expand playing opportunities for women in my hometown beyond those currently offered. Suggestions are welcomed, help is welcomed, and hopefully a fresh look at this notion a few years after its original penning will finally give it launch.
#SoccerSoapbox returns next week (2/15/12) at the regular time and day of Wednesdays at 4:30pm PST and 7:30PM EST.
The conversation doesn’t stop there though. Fans across the country are encouraged to use the #GrowTheGame hashtag during the week to be linked with other like-minded and talk all thing soccer.