Blog

Academy

21 August 6:42 pm

Four years ago this month, Jon Kempin became the club's first homegrown player and the youngest signing to that point when he turned pro at age 17.

"This is a great day for our organization," Peter Vermes said at the time. "We had the opportunity to identify a talented player in the area, bring him into the (Academy) program and develop him to the point where we could sign him to a professional contract. Jon has incredible talent and now he has the opportunity to continue his development at a professional level and not have the pressure to perform on the field right away.”

Pressure to perform, like being told at halftime to warmup for your MLS debut and then facing a penalty kick for your first shot on goal faced.

Or lining up across from the League's top paid player, U.S. Men's National Team star Michael Bradley, in your first career MLS start.

Or following that with a 2,000+ mile trek to Central America three days later for a Champions League encounter in Nicaragua.

Kempin aced all three tests since being summoned back from his loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC in the aftermath of an injury to starting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and then stepping into the spotlight when Andy Gruenebaum was sidelined with a strained shoulder. Now 21, Kempin is the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS match in team history and the youngest at his position to appear in MLS this season.

To quote Kempin on his first day as a professional, "Now is when the fun starts."

06 August 11:46 am
July 19th marked the third annual Sporting Club Network Reception and Kevin Gray Awards Ceremony as the achievements of various players, coaches and those dedicated to the growth of the game were recognized. One hundred and twenty-three members were in attendance, representing 33 Sporting Club Network Academy Affiliates and Member Clubs from five different states -- a display of Sporting Club Network’s far-reaching effort to bring players, coaches and communities into the Sporting Club family.
 
Established in 2012, Sporting Club Network aims to create a more personal relationship between its members, their local communities, Sporting Kansas City and its parent company, Sporting Club. Athletes, coaches and families within the Sporting Club Network are provided with exclusive opportunities to interact with members of Sporting Kansas City’s senior team, receive coaching and education instruction from the senior team technical staff, and be recognized at Sporting Park for their efforts to expand the game in their locality.
 
The end of the year reception gives Sporting Club Network members the opportunity to meet fellow members, exchange ideas and reflect on the many on-and-off-the field accomplishments achieved throughout the year. In conjunction with the annual reception, Sporting Club Network hosts the Kevin Gray Awards.

The Kevin Gray awards, presented by Pepsi, were established in honor of the late Kansas City Sports Commission President. Kevin’s passion for the game and his desire to see it grow in the Kansas City area are exemplified in the winners of his namesake. The Kevin Gray Player of the Year Award recognizes youth, as well as adult, players for their outstanding performance on the field. The Kevin Gray Coach of the Year Award is given to a Kansas City coach who has led his or her team to remarkable success. The final award, Soccer Ambassador of the Year, is presented to an individual whose commitment to the game and tireless effort in support of its growth reflects the ideals that the Sports Commissioner Gray embodied.
 
The Kevin Gray Awards, co-sponsored by Sporting Kansas City and Global Sports International, bestowed the following awards, as decided by a panel of soccer leaders in Kansas City:
  • Male Youth Player of the Year – Jo Jo Piatczyc
  • Female Youth Player of the Year – Cristina DeZeeuw
  • Adult Player of the Year – Seth Sinovic
  • Coach of the Year – Peter Vermes
  • Soccer Ambassador of the Year – Robb Heineman
This year's awards ceremony, hosted at Sporting Park, preceded Sporting Kansas City's game against the LA Galaxy and was broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel the following evening. Former club captain Diego Gutierrez emceed the event and moved the crowed as he reflected on the growth of the game in Kansas City and the abundance of opportunity youth players now have, thanks in part to the work of Sporting Kansas City and the Sporting Club Network.
 
Gutierrez has a special connection to the club and the Kansas City area. He was a graduate of Blue Springs High School and was a two-time NSCAA All-American at Rockhurst University before joining the club in Major League Soccer’s inaugural season in 1996. He would go on to win the MLS Cup in 1998, four U.S. Open Cup championships and record 40 career playoff appearances (third most in MLS history).
 
At the conclusion of the reception, guests enjoyed the game and took in the electric atmosphere as they watched Sporting KC go on to beat the Galaxy by a 2-1 scoreline. The award winners, however, were given a truly unique experience as they were escorted onto the field and recognized for their achievements at halftime.
 
Thank you to all of our network members and guests for making this year's Sporting Club Network Reception and Kevin Gray Awards Ceremony such a memorable experience! To stay up-to-date on upcoming events and for all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow on Twitter and like the SCN on Facebook.
30 May 12:36 pm

Two years ago this month, two of the most successful clubs in Kansas City, Blue Valley Soccer Club and Kansas City Football Club, completed a major merger that saw both clubs’ membership come together to form Sporting Blue Valley. This was the first instance of an Academy Affiliate in the Sporting Club Network taking on the “Sporting” name and for some time it was considered one of the main local feeder clubs for the Sporting KC Academy teams. Times have changed since then with the Academy Affiliate program growing immensely, now including 11 different affiliates across the Midwest, spanning as far as Minneapolis, Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee.
 
As Sporting KC Academy tryouts returned this May, the influence of these Academy Affiliates was certainly apparent with trialists coming from at least seven different cities and five different states. Among the represented affiliates were Omaha FC, Sporting Wichita Rojos, Sporting StL Rangers, Sporting Nashville Heroes, Sporting Kaw Valley, Sporting Iowa, Sporting Columbia SC, and Sporting Blue Valley, with a number of these players receiving roster or developmental player spots across the four Academy age groups for the 2014-15 season.
 
A major goal of the Sporting Club Network and its Academy Affiliate program is to better scout and develop the youth talent throughout this region in hopes of providing a clear path for these players to strive for a place on the Sporting KC senior team. Seeing growth like this is a testament to this program and hopefully a sign of the club getting closer to having its first Academy Affiliate player starting in a competitive match at Sporting Park.
 
To keep up with the Sporting Club Network and the Academy Affiliate program, be sure to follow on Twitter and like on Facebook.
30 May 10:26 am
With upcoming plans to replace the pitch at Sporting Park during the World Cup break in MLS play, Sporting Kansas City offered up a unique opportunity to its partners: a chance to reserve 3-hour time slots to host events on the very field that the 2013 MLS Cup was won on. Academy Affiliate Sporting Kaw Valley took advantage of this occasion & will be hosting what they are calling “Party on the Pitch” on Saturday.
 
Attending SKV club members will get to come out to Sporting Park and participate in a variety of activities on the field, but the fun doesn’t end there with Sporting KC player appearances, autographs, music, giveaways and much more being included in the overall event. While on-field, participating youth players can compete in various skill-based games and will each be given a “passport” to travel through the different activities.
 
Upon completion of said activities, players will receive a stamp showing their accomplishment and completed passports will earn players the chance to win different SKC prizes including autographed merchandise. Following these on-field challenges from 3-6 p.m., members are welcome to stick around the stadium in the Boulevard Members Club for an additional player appearance during a Sporting KC watch party for the team's road match against D.C. United at 6 p.m.
 
For your chance to be a part of this exclusive event, register today at www.sportingkv.com/registration. And to stay up to date on all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow the program on Twitter and like it on Facebook.
28 April 12:53 pm

Sporting Kaw Valley has made an exciting addition to their coaching staff. Former Sporting KC midfielder and Grenada international Craig Rocastle is the newest member of Sporting Kaw Valley’s premier coaching staff and will fulfill a variety of roles within the club. Rocastle currently holds a National “C” Coaching License and will now serve as an Assistant Age Group Director in their Premier Division.
 
"Rocastle will bring with him a wealth of individual soccer related knowledge and experience," said Marcus Dudley, Sporting Kaw Valley’s Executive Director. "He truly understands what we're trying to build here at Sporting Kaw Valley.”

Sporting Kaw Valley partnered with Sporting Kansas City through the Sporting Club Network as an Academy Affiliate in 2013. Sporting Kaw Valley is dedicated to providing opportunities for fun and development in a family-friendly environment. Their goal is to enable youth players to enjoy the game of soccer, while realizing their full potential as a player. Today, they serve more than 2,200 players between the ages of 3-19, primarily in the Lawrence and Topeka areas.
 
To read more about this announcement, please click here. To stay informed on all things Sporting Club Network, follow the SCN on Twitter & like them on Facebook.

24 April 10:03 am

Homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin started for the United States Under-21 Men's National Team on Wednesday in a 2-1 victory against Club Tijuana (MEX) Under-20's at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The 21-year-old Leawood, Kan. native kept a clean sheet for the opening 45 minutes before head coach Tab Ramos made mass changes at halftime and Kempin was replaced by Kendall McIntosh for the second half.

Wednesday's scrimmage was the highlight of the training camp, the first for the U.S. U21's with an eye toward qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Kempin now returns to OKC Energy FC ahead of their home opener against Orlando City SC on Saturday. Kempin has started three games during the team's inaugural USL PRO season with one shutout and 10 saves, and was named an honorable mention on the USL PRO Team of the Week yesterday.

16 April 11:12 am

The Sporting Club Network is happy to announce two additional tour stops added to this spring’s #MLSCupTour of the Midwest.
 
Later today, the Cup will be making an appearance at the Sporting Blue Valley Benefit Game at the Overland Park Soccer Complex from 7-8:30 p.m. CT. Each spring, Sporting Blue Valley holds this annual benefit game where the premier coaches play one of the top teams in the club to raise money for the Sporting Blue Valley Scholarship Fund. Admission is free to the game with donations highly encouraged. The event is open to the public and fans are invited to stop by and support the local community while also having the opportunity to take their picture with the MLS Cup and see Sporting KC players, Matt Besler and Chance Myers. The Cup will be on display by the Fieldhouse pavilion near Field 1 where the exhibition game will be played.
 
On Tuesday, April 29th the Cup will continue its trek across the Midwest, as it will be taken to Columbia, Mo. for a Sporting Club Network Mini Clinic in conjunction with Sporting Columbia SC. The clinic will be taking place at Pride Park from 5:30-7 p.m. CT and the Cup will be on display for pictures. All are welcome to come take a picture with the Cup during this time!
 
For other MLS Cup Tour dates and locations, click here and to follow all of the adventures of the Cup, visit the Tour Storify page and include #MLSCupTour for your chance to be featured! Beyond that, be sure to follow the Sporting Club Network on Facebook and Twitter.

07 April 10:45 am

Since scoring the team's first goal of the year, homegrown defender Kevin Ellis has been in the spotlight for Sporting Kansas City throughout the opening month of the 2014 season. The Kansas City native and Sporting KC Academy product has started five games across all competition in 2014 and on Saturday, was featured in the Sporting Park videoboad series "Two Lies and a Truth" presented by The Parking Spot.

Take the test by watching the video below and for more, check out previous episodes quizzing fellow defenders Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin.

03 April 3:14 pm

In August of 2013, during the Academy Affiliate Weekend, the Sporting Club Network named the very first Academy Affiliate All-Star Team with representatives from over seven different cities throughout the Midwest. During their time in Kansas City, this select group of young players received training from SKC senior team coaches at the team's training facility and competed in an exhibition game against Sporting KC's very own U14 Academy team.

With the success of the first Academy Affiliate All-Star Team, the program has been expanded in 2014. Now, the Sporting Club Network hosts two Academy Affiliate All-Star Experiences each year with the first one having taken place in late March. Eight Academy Affiliate clubs had the opportunity to select their top U14 and U12 male players to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Over 40 All-Stars were selected from over 10 major Midwestern cities to come to Kansas City to participate in a unique and exclusive opportunity.
 
To view pictures from the 2014 Spring Academy Affiliate All-Star Experience and learn about what these players got to be a part of, view the Storify below. Additionally, to stay up to date on all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow them on Twitter (@SportingKC_SCN) and like them on Facebook.

21 March 12:59 pm

This weekend marks the start of the Spring Academy Affiliate All-Star Experience, hosted by the Sporting Club Network. Over the course of this weekend, players from eight of the nine SCN Academy Affiliate clubs will be represented as they train at Swope Soccer Village under the guidance of the Sporting KC Academy coaching staff, which has recently made some significant additions to their team. In addition to experiencing training at the same facilities as SKC’s Academy and senior teams, these players will even get a chance to compete against the Sporting Kansas City Academy teams in a series of exhibition games Sunday morning.
 
These U12 and U14 Academy Affiliate All-Star teams will be drawing players from over 10 major cities throughout the Midwest, spanning as far as Nashville, Tenn. to Minneapolis, Minn. And if the training opportunities and a chance to test themselves against Sporting KC’s Academy players wasn’t enough, these two teams will get to have a number of special game day experiences as Sporting KC takes on San Jose Earthquakes tomorrow night.
 
Any and all Sporting Club Network members are invited to attend the exhibition games, which will be kicking off on the championship field of Swope Soccer Village at 9 a.m. (U14) and 10:30 a.m. (U12). And as these players compete on the field, all fans in attendance will have the opportunity to take their picture with the MLS Cup, as part of the SCN’s #MLSCupTour. It will be on display from 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the same location of the fields. Admission is free and open to public and games will be played on the Academy Champion Field in Swope Soccer Village.
 
We encourage everyone to come out, take a picture with the Cup, and support some of the best youth players from all over the Midwest. For additional MLS Cup Tour dates and locations, click here and to follow all of the adventures of the Cup, visit the Tour Storify page and include #MLSCupTour for your chance to be featured! Beyond that, be sure to follow the Sporting Club Network on Facebook and Twitter.