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24 June 2:50 pm

The annual Kevin Gray Awards, presented by Pepsi and co-sponsored by Sporting Kansas City and Global Sports International, recognize the achievements of soccer players and coaches in the Kansas City area. Each year, as the event quickly approaches, we at Sporting Kansas City enjoy catching up with a few of the past winners and featuring them in blog posts that are released in the days leading up to the show. Welcome to this year’s first Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight! Today, we highlight the 2011 Kevin Gray Female Youth Player of the Year, Caroline Gray.

Gray, a St. Teresa’s Academy alumna and recent 2015 University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, had no difficulty continuing her soccer success in college after receiving the award following her last season at STA. During her freshman year at UNL, Gray started all 18 games for the Huskers and scored her first career goal at Penn State on October 14, 2011. In her sophomore season, she, again, played in every single match and added two goals and six assists to her increasingly impressive stat sheet. Gray’s third year at UNL proved to be, arguably, the most eventful. Maintaining the trend established by her performance in the two years prior, Gray started all 24 games for the Huskers in 2013 and provided leadership en route to Nebraska’s first-ever Big 10 Tournament Championship. According to Gray, that year’s regular season and postseason titles serve as two of the proudest achievements of her entire soccer career. Finally, in Gray’s senior season, she started all 19 matches, averaged 87 minutes per match, and earned Big 10 Player of the Week honors in November 2014 for scoring the game-winning goal against Iowa in the final game of the season. After adding this recognition to the long list of individual honors she had managed to collect throughout her college soccer career, Gray went on to graduate as a 2-time member of the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team, with an Academic All-Big Ten award and 5 appearances on the Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll—effectively leaving her mark on the Nebraska women’s soccer program for years and years to come.

Reflecting upon her time at Nebraska, Caroline says she will miss most “the friendships [she] made with the girls on the team” as well as the opportunity she had to play in one of the best conferences in the country, an experience that she says “took her game to a whole other level.”

As the daughter of the late Kevin Gray—of whom these annual awards are held in honor—Caroline articulated how appreciative she feels not only because the awards were and are instituted in remembrance of her father, but also to have won the award for Female Youth Player of the Year in 2011 just a month after her dad’s passing. “It was the most amazing award I could have gotten,” Gray said, “and I just knew how proud he would have been.” Regarding Kevin Gray’s monumental impact on sports in the Kansas City area, Caroline recalls “his incredible drive to improve every aspect of sports in Kansas City, especially women’s sports” through his creation of the Women’s Intersport Network (WIN for KC). As for soccer, “he wasn’t the most knowledgeable,” Gray said, “but he loved to watch, regardless.”

This summer, Caroline is excited to have moved back to Kansas City full-time and plans to stay heavily involved in the growing sport of soccer while working at GSI Sports, one of the co-sponsors for the Kevin Gray Awards.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for our next Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight on Salina, Kansas native and USWNT prospect, AD Franch! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter & Instagram, and like us on Facebook for all things Sporting Club Network!
 

24 June 9:00 am

Hardware is not exclusive to the Sporting KC first team and the Sporting KC Academy is ready to add another trophy of their own to the case.

The Sporting KC U-14s will square off against Des Moines Menace Red at 10 a.m. CT in the US Youth Soccer Region II U-15 championship in Fox Cities, Wis. The match will be broadcast free in high definition.

The Sporting KC Academy U-14's are looking to defend their title after winning the US Youth Soccer Region II Championship in 2014. The winner of today's match will punch their ticket to the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Tulsa, Okla.

23 June 4:26 pm

Created with flickr slideshow.

 

This weekend, thousands of Kansas Citians flocked to the West Bottoms to spend time enjoying live music, beer and food during the second-annual Boulevardia beer festival. During the three-day event local charities managed each of the bars within the festival borders to gain brand awareness and raise funds for their respective organizations. With the help of nearly 70 volunteers, The Victory Project managed one of these bars located near the main stage.

To add to the excitement of the event, on Friday night attendees visiting The Victory Project Bar were served from some of their favorite Sporting KC players including Ike Opara, Kevin Ellis, Marcel de Jong, Roger Espinoza and Jon Kempin. 

In exchange for their hard work, The Victory Project will receive a percentage of beer sales and all tips made from the bar.

Boulevardia, which recently celebrated its second year in the Historic West Bottoms, is a beer festival founded by the Boulevard Brewing Company. The festival showcased a wide selection of various Boulevard brews, a family carnival, various food trucks, and a Makers Market for the craft enthusiasts. Bands selected by 96.5 The Buzz and Kansas City’s local performance group Quixotic provided the entertainment.

To find out more about the Victory Project or to make a donation please visit VictoryKC.org or follow @VictoryKC on Twitter or @victoryprojectkc on Instagram.

23 June 1:08 pm

Sporting KC Doppelgangers have returned, but this time, with a twist! As it is hard to match the looks of our really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking players and coaching staff, we figured some simple addition might make it a little easier. We found a few images that contained certain characteristics of a Sporting KC player and added them together to make a doppelganger!

Let us know which look-alike is your favorite or send us your own doppelgangers on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #SKCLookAlikes for a chance to win a pair of tickets to Saturday's match against the Colorado Rapids at 7:30 p.m. CT!

GOALKEEPER:   

David Duchovny

+

Ben Foster

=

Tim Melia

DEFENDERS:   

Jeremy Piven

+

Zach Gilford

=

 Matt Besler

Zorro

+

Hansel

=

Chance Myers

Chris Andersen

+

Wilson

=

Marcel de Jong

 

Tiger Woods

+

Lil Bow Wow

=

Saad Abdul-Salaam

 

MIDFIELDERS:

Paul Rudd

+

Freddie Mercury

=

Benny Feilhaber

  Robinho            

 
+

 Mr. Dalvin from Jodeci

=

Soni Mustivar

        

Roger Espinoza

=

Patrick Star

 
FORWARDS:
 

Alan Cumming

 
+

 

A Tanning Bed

=

Krisztian Nemeth

Oscar

+

Josh Brolin

=

Bernardo Añor

Michael Ealy

+

Neymar

=

Dom Dwyer

The Coaching Staff:

Ben Affleck

+

 R. Lee Emrey

=

 

Peter Vermes

Derek Zoolander

+

 Rob Lowe

=

Kerry Zavagnin

 Jonathan Banks

+

Ernst Stavro Blofeld

=

Zoran Savic

 

 

22 June 12:02 pm

This week’s Sporting Spotlight showcases Kerry Zavagnin, the team’s former midfield anchor and current assistant coach. KMCI-TV 38 the Spot host Crystle Lampitt met up with Zavagnin to learn more about his soccer journey culminating in Kansas City.

Zavagnin, who has played and coached for Kansas City since 2000, reveals how he made his way to MLS and solidified his place during an 11-year playing career. Tune in every Monday morning for the newest Sporting Spotlight on 38 The Spot or check out their YouTube playlist to catch up on previous segments.

21 June 10:06 pm

Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer scores his fifth goal of the regular season in the 30th minute (assisted by Benny Feilhaber) to level the match at Rio Tinto Stadium against Real Salt Lake.

19 June 10:25 pm


Clockwise from top left: @alexis17quevedo, @k8e_jay, @greghill5280, @mrmortensen

Four causes for cheer this Father's Day:

  1. #RSLvSKC in the MLS Soccer Sunday doubleheader
  2. 20% off the entire Sporting Style men's department
  3. A chance to win a $250 gift card to MLSstore.com
  4. Boulevardia Day 3, featuring craft spirits and cocktails 

Need we say more? Well...

Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake kick off their 2013 MLS Cup rematch at 9 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1. It's been 16 years since the team took the field on Father's Day in a 6-0 romp over New York at Arrowhead Stadium back in 1999. Might the team's newest dad, Benny Feilhaber, play a starring role on Sunday? His seven assists are second most in MLS to go along with goals in three of his last four MLS matches.

In celebration of the holiday, Sporting Style is offering 20% off all men's items at Shop.SportingKC.com through Sunday. As always, free shipping is available on orders over $50 and every purchase is eligible for free returns. Perhaps the newest t-shirt from the Sporting KC and Boulevard Brewing Co. collaboration would make a nice addition to his wardrobe?

Speaking of Boulevard, they're throwing a party in the West Bottoms this weekend that is right up dad's alley. Sporting KC is a proud supporter of Boulevardia, a three-day festival that brings together the best in music, food and beer. Don't miss Sunday's schedule of events from 11am-5pm headlined by musical acts across three stages and the one-day only "Craft Spirits & Cocktails" special experience.

Finally, Major League Soccer is getting the Father's Day fun started early with their annual social media contest. One lucky fan will win a $250 gift card to MLSstore.com and all you have to do to enter is post a pic of you and your pops wearing Sporting KC gear to Twitter or Instagram by 11 p.m. CT on Saturday. Be sure to include @MLS and the hashtag #MLSdad to make your entry official.

Good luck and a happy Father's Day from our Sporting KC family to yours!

16 June 11:51 am
Ten years ago today, Jefferson Roblee led the KC Pace U17 boys to a Missouri State Cup championship -- becoming the state's first representative from outside St. Louis to advance to regionals in the history of the competition. Now the head men's and women's soccer coach at William Jewell College, Roblee reflects back on the milestone in the guest post below as Sporting Kansas City prepares to face St. Louis FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tonight at Sporting Park.


J.D. Warman jumps on the back of Brant Bishop with Brian Wurst (#11)
also celebrating the KC Pace's first goal in a 3-1 victory in the Missouri
State Cup U-17 Championship on June 16, 2005 (photo by Dan Peak)

The KC Pace had to win six games in six days to take the title 3-1 over Lou Fusz-Popovic. Park Hill South's Brant Bishop, who later went on to play at Stanford University, scored all three goals in the victory. Prior to that victory, every Missouri State Cup championship -- every year, every age -- had been won by a team from St. Louis.  

The win is considered to be one of the defining moments signaling the shift of the "Soccer Capital of America" title from St. Louis to KC.      
 
St. Louis was and still is a soccer hot-bed. At that point in time, 2005, before MLS teams sponsored youth academies, all youth teams competed for one national title. Club teams from the state of Missouri (St. Louis) had won more youth national championships than any other state, and the defending U17 and U18 boys national champion club teams were both from St. Louis. 
 
St. Louis soccer had produced numerous All Americans, Olympians and World Cup players. St. Louis's soccer reputation had such a national soccer footprint that many KC area youth teams wouldn't event register for Missouri State Cup because winning was thought of as Mission Impossible. When the KC Pace won the Missouri State Cup Championship, a competition that pits one city's best versus another city's best, it shook the St. Louis soccer community and sent a warning around the nation. KC soccer is not only growing...it's thriving.
 
The KC Pace were coached by three Kansas City natives who are now college coaches: Jefferson Roblee (Head Coach of men's and women's soccer at William Jewell College), Lincoln Roblee (Head Coach of women's soccer at Benedictine College) and Burke Slusher (assistant men's coach at KCKCC). The three (of us) grew up playing competitive club soccer while watching the KC Comets professional indoor team play in front of sold out crowds at Kemper Arena in the early and mid 80's. 
 
Back then serious youth players had to go to St. Louis to play in big tournaments, participate in the Olympic Development Program or watch a National Team game in person. Now St. Louis youth players and soccer fans are traveling to Kansas City. The shift has been the result of a progressive soccer community boosted by an abundance of quality professional soccer.
  
"The Comets, Wizards, Sporting Kansas City and now the FC Kansas City women's team have been great for youth players in the area to watch professional soccer up close. Watching the professional game is exciting and educational for players looking to improve," says Lincoln Roblee.    
 
On June 16, 2006, exactly one year after making history, the KC Pace repeated as Missouri State Cup champions, winning the U18 boys division. However, on that June 16th, the KC Pace weren't the only KC team to take home the elusive Missouri State Cup title. The U13 Rockets boys team and the U13 KC Scream girls team also were crowned champions. The Western side of Missouri's soccer scene wasn't backing down and soccer around KC's metro has continued to grow.
 
This year, on June 16, a USL team from St. Louis will travel as the underdog to play at Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City in Cup competition, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Players, coaches and parents from the KC Pace team are planning a reunion at the game at Sporting Park to not only celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their historic victory but also for another reason.
 
"We'll all be cheering for another Kansas City soccer win," said Slusher. 
15 June 5:07 pm

This week's Sporting Spotlight is shining bright on the man who makes our players and staff look so good. In her most recent journey into the Sporting KC world, 38 the Spot host Crystle Lampitt met up with equipment manager Mike Flaherty. Mike, aka @KitManSKC, explains what it's like to be the man behind-the-scenes in the locker room.

He tells of his interesting journey to joining the team's staff in 2009, his relationship with the players and also how the fan support makes his job so much more exciting. Tune in every Monday morning for the newest Sporting Spotlight on 38 The Spot or check out their YouTube playlist to catch up on previous segments.

15 June 10:55 am

Sporting Kansas City players recently visited Breakout KC -- newly opened in the River Market area -- and were able to escape Room 13 in 55 minutes and 30 seconds. Matt Besler had so much fun trying to breakout, the team captain wants to do it again! And you can join him as he tries to beat the the time clocked a few weeks earlier.

Do you want to breakout with Besler? Enter for your chance to be part of the World Cup veteran's team.

All submissions must be in by 12 p.m. CT on Friday. Seven lucky entrants will be randomly selected for 60 minutes of hang-time with the three-time MLS All-Star and U.S. MNT centerback. Good luck!