Out and About
Sporting KC goalkeeper Jon Kempin at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic | Photo by Joe Petro
Sporting Kansas City homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin will make a special appearance from 3-4:30 p.m. CT on Friday in conjunction with Kia's programming at the KC Auto Show. If you're going to the annual event -- held at the Bartle Hall Convention Center (301 West 13th St.) in downtown Kansas City -- stop by Kia, an official partner of Sporting Kansas City, to meet Kempin and get your picture taken with the Major League Soccer and USL PRO champion. The Leawood, Kan. native will be signing personalized autographs so be sure to have your Sporting KC gear in hand.
Kempin, 20, started two games for Sporting Kansas City last month at the 2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic with a clean sheet against Fluminense FC U-23's in a 3-0 win before adding another victory over the Montreal Impact to clinch the team's first-place finish in Group B. He enters the 2014 season, his fifth with the club since turning pro at age 17, after helping lead affiliate Orlando City SC to the USL PRO title in 2013 while on loan with the Lions.
With the start of the 2014 season less than two weeks away, Sporting Kansas City is immersed in their preseason schedule including training and participating in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. Even with their jam-packed schedule, the team set aside some time on Sunday to give back to the local community. Sporting KC players and The Victory Project teamed up with USL PRO affiliate Orlando City SC to visit the special kids staying at the Give Kids the World Village located in nearby Kissimmee, Florida.
Players -- including Dom Dwyer, C.J. Sapong, Christian Duke, Oriol Rosell, Aurelien Collin and Seth Sinovic -- participated in the Village’s “Candyland” theme night and spent time playing games, eating cotton candy and riding the carousel with kids and their families. The Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre, non-profit “story book” resort, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations.
“We are just here to try and amplify the smiles and amplify the love - so far so good,” said Sapong.
The Victory Project, Sporting KC’s foundation, has a mission to help children thrive through challenges and was founded in 2013. For more information please visit VictoryKC.org or follow us on Twitter.
This past year, Special Olympics Kansas created the Kansas Unified Soccer League, which allows students with disabilities to participate in soccer competition with their general education peers. It provides an opportunity for a variety of students and skill levels to come together and interact while playing a sport they love. During the first ever Kansas Unified Soccer League's Tournament Championship match, Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic made a special appearance and explained the importance of this type of an environment and all of its benefits.
Special Olympics Kansas partnered with Sporting Kansas City through the Sporting Club Network in 2013. Special Olympics Kansas is dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports competitions, health and nutrition programs and leadership development. The Kansas Unified Soccer League of Special Olympics Kansas will continue this spring and is encouraging local high schools to form teams for their upcoming season.
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MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Sporting Kansas City players were in attendance today at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City, MO to unveil a major makeover as part of MLS Cup Week 2013. Major League Soccer’s community service initiative, MLS WORKS, and Sporting Kansas City through The Victory Project came together ahead of MLS Cup 2013 to renovate the lower level family rooms at the local Ronald McDonald House over the past 10 days.
The basement was transformed by local TV celebrity and season three winner of HGTV's Design Star Jennifer Bertrand to benefit children and families who will stay in the Ronald McDonald House during treatments at Kansas City area hospitals. The Sporting Kansas City-themed rooms include great items for all ages including a specially made foosball table featuring the team’s players.
Check out the video above and photos below from today's commemoration ceremony.
Ever wonder what it would feel like to score a goal in front of the KC Cauldron at halftime during a Sporting KC match? Well, according to Sporting Kaw Valley player Kanak Masten, there may have been “a lot of people watching, but there was no pressure really.” Confident words, to say the least, from the Academy Affiliate player and 2013 Chipotle Challenge Champion.
Kanak recently earned the opportunity to compete in the final Chipotle Challenge of 2013 after winning a skills competition at the end of a Sporting Club Network mini-clinic in September. At various camps and mini-clinics throughout the year, Sporting KC’s youth soccer staff held Chipotle Challenges to test the dribbling, juggling and shooting abilities of all participants involved. Kanak was one of six to win these contests and with this honor came not only a spot in the final Chipotle Challenge on-field at Sporting Park, but also a gift card provided by Chipotle worth 25 free burritos for him and his friends!
If a team’s worth of free burritos and the chance to compete in a skills contest in front of a sold-out Sporting Park wasn’t enough, Chipotle and the SCN even had a grand prize lined up for the eventual Chipotle Challenge Champion: dinner with a Sporting KC player! As you can see in the video above, Kanak got to take some of his close friends to a Chipotle location in Kansas City and have dinner with one of his heroes, Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer.
To see pictures from the final Chipotle Challenge at Sporting Park, view the slideshow below. And to stay up to date on future promotions and engagements from the Sporting Club Network, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Sunday was a busy day for the Sporting Club Network, with player appearances spread out over the Metro Area at three different locations. Accompanied by members of the SCN Staff, Sporting Kansas City players Mikey Lopez, Jon Kempin, and Seth Sinovic all took some time to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
First round draft pick Mikey Lopez appeared at Sporting Kaw Valley's Concussion Awareness and Prevention Clinic. Thanks to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, many parents and players were informed on the dangers and side effects of concussions. Players were able to experience the "Impact" concussion test and had the chance to meet Mikey and hear of his experiences with concussions throughout his soccer career.
Goalkeeper Jon Kempin attended Sunflower Soccer's Governor's Cup in Topeka, KS. Topeka played host to the girls tournament this weekend with over sixty five teams competing. Jon was thrilled to be making an appearance at a tournament which he had played in when he was younger and was overwhelmed by the support he received from the fans who stopped by. Sunflower Soccer will host the boys side of the Governor's Cup next weekend.
Finally, defender Seth Sinovic appeared at the Special Olympics Kansas’ Unified Soccer Championship Tournament at Harmon High School. The Unified Sports League is a program that brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and their peers without intellectual disabilities (called partners) on the same team for training and competition. Seth was honored to be invited to this event and enjoyed spending some time with everyone who came out to support.
To see pictures from Sunday's Special Olympics appearance, view the slideshow below, and to stay up to date on the Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
The Shadow Buddies foundation provides therapeutic dolls to children suffering from a variety of illnesses, disabilities and medical treatments, including cancer. The Victory Project teamed up with the foundation by donating two Sporting KC packages which were auctioned off during their annual gala on Sept. 23rd.
One of the donated packages was a private soccer clinic run by Sporting Kansas City teammates Soony Saad and Dom Dwyer. Last week the pair held a clinic for the KC Zoom – a Heartland Soccer team in Parkville, Missouri -- who won the auction. The boys had their hands full with the 14 nine-year-old girls and were surprised by how much the girls learned during their short time on the field. The hour long clinic included a variety of drills, including ball handling and shooting drills, and was capped off by autographs and photos with the players.
Follow @VictoryKC on Twitter for all the latest from The Victory Project.
Last week at the Sporting Club Training Center in Swope Park, Sporting Kansas City hosted a very dedicated group of soccer loving students from Prairie Ridge Elementary school. All 109 students of the PRE Soccer Readers Club were in attendance at Wednesday’s Training session and a chance to meet a couple of the Sporting Kansas City players they had been learning about, Jimmy Nielsen and Soony Saad.
Earlier this fall, Prairie Ridge Elementary School joined forces with the Sporting Club Network and Sporting Kansas City to increase enthusiasm for reading through soccer by forming the PRE Soccer Readers Club. Led by PRE Teacher Brandi Leggett, who in addition to leading this program has been nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year, these one hundred or so 3rd to 5th graders, armed with a passion for soccer and reading, met on Wednesday mornings at 7:30 to not only work on their own soccer skills, but to read and discuss the bio of that week’s Sporting Kansas City player.
When the discussion was over, the students were assigned homework consisting of five questions relevant to the player that they had learned about that day. The students were challenged to come up with critical answers which showed a greater understanding of what they had read beyond just simple observations. The only way to make the trip to Wednesday's Training session was to complete every assignment, and miraculously not a single student missed out on this requirement. To top it off, each weekly gathering ended in the way that all Sporting Kansas City fans should end their meetings - with the “I Believe” supporter’s chant.
This past Saturday, Sporting Club Network member, Kansas Rush, in conjunction with One World Futbol & Chevrolet, held an event at a public-use turf field located just east of downtown Kansas City at 9th and Van Brunt. At this event, Kansas Rush players, coaches and staff members helped organize a game and clinic with kids from the local community, before giving every kid in attendance their own One World Futbol – an indestructible soccer ball.
It was during this ball drop that Sporting KC first got involved. Summer signing, Brendan Ruiz, along with former Sporting KC striker, Kei Kamara, spoke to the kids in attendance about their playing history and how important an indestructible ball like this is to kids in developing nations. Prior to signing with Sporting Kansas City, Ruiz spent two years playing for a club in Brazil and saw first-hand how simply having an inflated ball to play with can be a luxury for some. After helping give every kid a ball of their own and signing some autographs, Brendan then joined everyone in attendance for another round of activities on the field with their new One World Futbols.
To learn more about the One World Futbol, including ways to get involved or get your own indestructible ball, view their website here. To view photos from this weekend’s event, check out the slideshow below, and to stay up-to-date with the Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.