Topeka Youth Soccer Organizations Prodigy Soccer Club 6021 SW 29th St., Suite A www.prodigysoccer.com Shawnee County Parks and Recreation (North Community Center) 300 NE 43rd St. (785) 286-3358 www.snco.us/parksandrec Sport Zone 3909 Burlingame Road (785) 267-4658 http://isportzone.com/sportsprograms/soccer.htm Sunflower Soccer Association P.O. Box 750194 (785) 233-9700 (785) 233-7099 — weather hotline www.sunflowersoccer.org Topeka Select Soccer Club 1309 SW Sixth St. (785) 235-2208 www.topekaselect.com Upward Soccer Wanamaker Woods Nazarene Church 3501 SW Wanamaker Road (785) 273-2248 www.wwnaz.org/upwards/ soccer.htm
the program’s main goals, says Kevin Stoner, who works as the athletic programmer for Shawnee County. Lance Wilson, who heads the city’s clinics and camps, keeps an eye out for kids who want to develop their game as they grow older. But he thinks soccer programs benefit younger kids most by offering recreation and friendship. “Soccer is probably the best fitness-related sport that you could do as far as keeping kids in shape,” says Wilson, “and the benefits are the socialization, part of being a team, some of the extra activities like swimming parties and meeting new friends.” Keeping score
As kids get older, says Jerry Stamm, president of Topeka Select Soccer Club, they want their soccer games to be about more than just having fun and getting guaranteed playing time. “You get to a point where it’s inherent in our nature,” he says. “We want to compete.” With soccer, that means tryouts to make it onto a competitive team, higher fees for a coach, and league and tournament play. And the whole point of playing the game shifts. “The emphasis changes to the aspiration of the team,” Stamm says. “Kids play the position they are best suited for. It’s a team thing and you are keeping score and the team is trying to win.” Previously, this competition has meant traveling to the Kansas City area and other out-of-town places for league play. But in the past year, league play has focused back on the Sunflower Soccer Association’s 11 fields just north of the Kansas River and west of U.S. Highway 75 on the edge of Topeka. They are, after all, some of the finest soccer fields in the Midwest. “At Sunflower, they do a lot of work,” says Colby Williams, a former soccer pro who has coached in Topeka for more than a dozen years. “It’s a really good treat to play there.” Williams, who started the Prodigy Soccer Club, agrees that the movement to remain in Topeka for competitive play is a convenience for players and parents as well as a testament to the sport’s growing popularity in the capital city. “When we started a soccer summer camp in 1998, we had 100 kids enrolled. This year we had about 300 boys and girls and have even begun a toddler summer camp,” says Williams. Most soccer players take a break from the sport in the winter, but Stamm says enthusiasts can play year-round if they want to because Sport Zone has an indoor field with a winter program that he runs. And no matter how much time a kid invests in soccer, Stamm says it’s never wasted because having quick feet can help in other sports as well. “Soccer is a good, healthy sport,” he says. “It deals an awful lot with foot speed and coordination.” But beware, he warns. The sport can be addictive. “A lot of kids who play soccer, it gets in their blood,” Stamm says.
TOPEKAMAGAZINE Spring 2009
Topeka Magazine Spring 2009