Big 12 Soccer making a home in Kansas City
The 2014 edition of the Big 12 Soccer Championship is less than one month from making a return trip to Kansas City, with games scheduled for November 5, 7 and 9. If you ask conference coaches, they hope that the event has found a home at Swope Soccer Village.
“We want people to come out, we want passionate soccer fans at our championship,” West Virginia coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “Having it in a facility like Swope Park is just awesome. And the facility is just going to get better. We have a great opportunity to keep making noise for Big 12 soccer in Kansas City.”
“I’m excited about having the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City because it’s just three hours down the road for us and our fans,” Iowa State coach Tony Minatta said. “We have a big fan base in Kansas City but it’s such a soccer hotbed that I think fans will come out for the Big 12 Championship.”
Baylor co-coach Paul Jobson echoes the thoughts of his fellow coaches.
“The main thing is that you’re getting the support of a great soccer community for the young ladies competing for a Conference championship,” he said. “It’s a world-class facility. As a coach, you want a great experience for your student-athletes and that’s what Kansas City is providing.”
Not only is Swope Soccer Village an outstanding, award-winning facility, Big 12 coaches like the fact that Kansas City has become a hotbed for the sport.
- Swope Soccer Village is the home for Sporting Kansas City, the 2013 Major League Soccer champions.
- In August, FC Kansas City won the National Women’s Soccer League championship. FC Kansas City has three former Big 12 players on its roster – Missy Geha from Kansas along with Sara Keane and Frances Silva of West Virginia.
- Kansas City, Kan., will be the home to the $75 million National Training and Coaching Development Center for U.S. Soccer. The complex will feature 16 soccer fields, state-of-the-art conditioning facilities, and a 125-room hotel for visiting teams and fans. Located in the middle of the country, it is expected to provide a world-class environment to develop players, coaches and referees of all ages.
“I hope that it opens the door for Big 12 coaches to take part in training with the national team coaching staff or being part of the coaching staff,” Minatta said.
“Anytime you get a specific facility for soccer really speaks volumes on how much U.S. Soccer wants to invest in youth soccer,” West Virginia coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “Having something in the Midwest is going to be huge – it will be great for grass roots and for our national team.”
The Kansas and Missouri state cups in youth soccer will be held on adjoining fields at Swope Soccer Village during the Big 12 Championship and that should add exposure and fans for the Conference games.
“There are a lot of positive things from a soccer stand point,” Francis said. “I think we’re going to get some really, really good crowds. It should be a great atmosphere for the fans and the players.”
Swope Soccer Village’s pristine pitch is something that also excites Big 12 coaches. The nine soccer fields in the Big 12 are in immaculate condition and the teams that compete for the championship experience the same type of playing surface in Kansas City.
“We’re like a number of teams in the Big 12 that like to possess the ball, the balls on the ground quite a bit,” Francis said. “It’s like playing pool on a table that’s smooth as opposed to one that has holes and divots. The ball just doesn’t roll as smooth. The playing surface (at Swope Soccer Village) was great last year and this year I’m sure it will be even better.”
After being held in San Antonio from 1997 through 2012, the Big 12 relocated its championship to Kansas City last season and will return again this year. The current contract calls for the 2015 championship to also be held at Swope Soccer Village. The Big 12 has also recommended the soccer championship remain at the site through 2017, contingent on improvements to locker room facilities at Swope Soccer Village.
“Kansas City has the tradition of being a soccer city and it’s an appropriate environment for Big 12 soccer to host the championship there,” Oklahoma’s Potter said. “It’s a wonderful stage for our student-athletes and a positive for everyone involved. Long may it continue.”
Fans interested in attending this exciting event can purchase tickets now via a link at Big12Sports.com/buytickets or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
In conjunction with this year’s Big 12 Soccer Championship, the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation will also host a free youth clinic on Saturday, November 8 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at the Swope Soccer Village with the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League champion FC Kansas City as the clinicians. A new educational session will also be held during the clinic where parents will have the opportunity to learn the importance of concussion awareness as well as how to create a positive environment for young athletes. To register for the clinic, visit sportkc.org.
By Wendell Barnhouse, Big 12 Digital Correspondent