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16 July 10:50 am

The Kevin Gray Awards, presented by Pepsi, are presented annually to soccer players in the Kansas City area for outstanding performances in a single season. Many Gatorade Player of the Year winners and First Team All-State selections have earned Kevin Gray Award honors. However, it is a unique occurrence that we have the pleasure of bestowing this award upon a player whose performance on the field can truly be matched by his performance off the field.

Derek Schrick, the 2012 Kevin Gray Awards Youth Male Player of the Year and a product of the Sporting KC Development Academy, is one such player. During a calendar year, Schrick will work 10 soccer camps around the Kansas City area. He primarily assists at Sporting KC and Rockhurst High School, but will also work camps for UMKC.

Schrick's coaching camp travels take him as far as Sedalia, Missouri, but he still finds a way to make it look easy. “Not only do I try to teach kids new skills in soccer, I always try to make their experience as enjoyable and positive as I can," Schrick said. "Balancing playing, school, and giving back is a challenge, but it can be done with hard work.”

In addition to coaching camps, Schrick gives up more of his time to volunteer with Special Olympics of Kansas City, as well as a program called the UMKC Bags of Fun Soccer Camp, which raises money to buy toys for children in hospitals.

Schrick was named the 2012 Kevin Gray Awards Youth Male Player of the Year after his senior year at Rockhurst High School, where he was named Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, one of the highest honors a high school athlete can earn. Going into his freshman season at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Schrick was ranked #66 in an ESPN Rise poll and was a Top Drawer Soccer four-star recruit. Schrick played in 16 games for the Mustangs and registered his first point by delivering a game-winning assist in overtime against Harvard. After his freshman season, he transferred closer to home and joined UMKC. Schrick began what will surely be an exceptional career by scoring in the first game of the 2013 season against Wisconsin.

Schrick’s strong performance on the field and commitment to giving back makes him the ideal selection for a Kevin Gray Awards Player of the Year. Look out for him in the future -- if his passion for giving back to the sport continues, there may be an award named after him some day.

Check back on Wednesday to read about our next Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight, Matt Besler! And for all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow us on twitter, @SportingKC_SCN, and like us on Facebook!

15 July 5:36 pm

Sporting Kansas City concludes its two-game road trip with a visit to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday. Peter Vermes' men are fresh off a 2-1 win at Montreal on Saturday as defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi started together for the first time since returning from the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Wednesday's contest features the two best-possessing teams in MLS. Should Sporting KC defeat Columbus, it would be the first time in franchise history that the team has won four straight on the road in the same season. 

Check out MLSsoccer.com's preview as Dan Haiek and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle discuss what to watch for on Wednesday. Tune into KMCI-TV 38 the Spot and SKCTV across the Midwest, as coverage begins at 6 p.m. CT.

15 July 11:33 am

Jaycie Johnson, winner of the 2013 Kevin Gray Awards Youth Female Player of the Year, made sure to continue to build on her successes from high school soccer almost immediately. She began doing this just months after winning the prestigious award by bursting on the scene at the University of Nebraska women’s soccer program, and followed up by putting on one of the greatest single season performances that the Huskers have ever seen. 

In the summer of 2013, Jaycie was named Kevin Gray Awards Youth Female Player of the Year. The Kevin Gray Awards, presented by Pepsi, are given in remembrance of the late Kansas City Sports Commissioner, and recognize the top players, coaches, and ambassadors in the KC soccer community over the past year. On being named Kevin Gray Awards Female Player of the Year, Jacyie said, “It meant the world to me getting honored with this award... It has made me work so much harder towards soccer and my training just to make him proud.”

And work hard she did. At the start of her college career, Jaycie was ranked as the No. 42 Forward in the country, and the No. 4 Forward in the Heartland Region. These rankings certainly proved to be accurate, if not an understatement of the simply extraordinary talent that Jaycie possesses. Just six weeks after Jaycie was honored during half time at a Sporting KC game for earning the title of Kevin Gray Awards Youth Female Player of the Year, Jaycie was leaping in to the arms of her teammates in celebration of scoring the first goal of her college career. This would become a familiar sight during the 2013 Fall season, as Jaycie netted a whopping 17 goals in all competitions, including 7 game winners. Check out some of her video highlights here.

There certainly is no shortage of statistics for the prolific Jaycie Johnson, here are a few of her most notable accomplishments from just her freshman year:

  • 2013 All-Big Ten Second Team
  • 2013 All-Big Ten Freshman Team - Unanimous Selection
  • 2013 Big Ten All-Tournament Team
  • 2013 Big Ten Tournament - Offensive Player of the Tournament
  • Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week (Aug.26)
  • 3X Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Aug. 26,Sept. 23,Oct. 28)
  • 2013 TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI - First Team Freshman
  • 2013 Soccer America All-Freshman First Team
  • First freshman in NCAA Tournament history to score four goals in a match
  • First freshman at Nebraska to score four goals in a match

Big 10 defenders beware, the freshman phenom now has a year of experience under her belt. With 17 goals in her first college season, we can only expect that Jaycie Johnson, 2013 Kevin Gray Awards Female Player of the Year, will continue her spectacular run of form and impress upon the nation the superior kind of talent that soccer players from Kansas City can produce.

Check back in on Wednesday to read about our next Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight: former Sporting KC Academy player, Derek Schrick. And for all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow us on twitter, @SportingKC_SCN, and like us on Facebook!

12 July 8:56 pm

Cast your vote below for the Man of the Match from Sporting Kansas City's 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at Stade Saputo. Voting is open through Sunday evening.

11 July 2:09 pm

Sporting Kansas City trained in Montreal this morning ahead of tomorrow's showdown at Stade Saputo. Manager Peter Vermes' squad will be frequent visitors north of the border with three of their next four road games coming on Canadian soil (7/12 at MTL, 7/26 at TOR, 8/10 at VAN), where Sporting KC has six regular season victories all-time -- second most among MLS clubs.

Montreal, in particular, has been the source of valuable road points for Sporting KC since the Impact entered MLS in 2012. Sporting KC is one of just two teams with multiple victories at Stade Saputo in MLS play, including a 3-0 victory there in May.

  • Sporting KC all-time in Canada: 6-4-5

    • ...at Montreal: 2-1-1
    • ...at Toronto: 3-3-3
    • ...at Vancouver: 1-0-1

For more on the #MTLvSKC match-up, check out the MLSsoccer.com Scouting Report below with Nick Firchau and Matt Doyle...

11 July 2:03 pm

Congratulations to Vonda Norman from Shawnee, KS for being this year's winner in the Rally House Ultimate Fan Experience! Vonda won a $500 shopping spree with Sporting Kansas City Defender, Ike Opara. Her friends and family were treated to quite the experience on June 25th at the Kansas Sampler across from Oak Park Mall and stocked up on lots of great merchandise to go with the authentic Sporting Kansas City jersey she won as part of the prize package. Vonda also received two tickets to last Sunday’s home match on July 6th vs. Chicago Fire at Sporting Park, which will included a meet-and-greet, stadium tour and pre-game field access to watch warm-ups.

Sporting Kansas City and Rally House entered a three-year sponsorship agreement last season. In addition to the fan sweepstakes, look out for player appearances at Rally House and Kansas Sampler locations across the area. Follow Rally House on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest.

11 July 11:16 am

Food is fuel. You have probably never given much thought to building one of your daily meals and have allowed hunger and personal taste play the bigger role in choosing your daily meals.  Whether you are a professional athlete or not, the goal of nutrition is to provide the body with stable energy and sufficient nutrients to perform.  Without the proper quality and amount of fuel we cannot expect the body to function at a world class level and be able to sustain the demands of life and sport.  So how do we do this?  Well here at Sporting Kansas City our main strategy with players is educating them on which choices to make to fuel, build, protect, prevent and hydrate their bodies for high performance.  We use the following categories to help educate our athletes on food selection:

  • Foods that Fuel: select minimally processed high fiber carbohydrates that provide sustainable energy.  Examples include whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, steel cut oats, quinoa, kamut, lentils.
  • Foods that Build: use lean proteins that provide the body with the building blocks for repair and recovery.  Examples include fish, chicken, turkey, lean red meats, tofu, cottage cheese, egg whites.
  • Foods that Protect: choose health fats that decrease inflammation and nourish the brain, such omega 3’s in salmon, tuna, flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil
  • Foods that Prevent: eat colorful fruits and vegetables that provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for repair and immune function.  Examples: spinach, kale, berries, peppers, beets.
  • Hydrate: take the proper amount of liquids on a daily basis, aiming for 1 oz of water per pound of body weight per day.

To optimize our nutritional success we teach players some basic strategies to follow on a daily basis:

  1. Eat clean by choosing non-processed natural foods, avoid things in wraps or packages as much as possible. 
  2. Eat every 3 hours, aiming for 6 meals a day (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack) to maintain energy levels throughout the day
  3. Fuel with minimally processed carbohydrates, eat healthy fats, power with lean proteins
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Eat breakfast everyday, this kick starts your metabolism for the day
  6. Eat a rainbow of colors for fruits and vegetables
  7. Recover after workout with a recovery shake or meal (protein and carbohydrates within 30 min)